The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
#51 – Gary Disarcina
The Angels really love having good SS don’t they? Gary Disarcina was the Angels shortstop of the 90’s after being drafted by the team out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the 6th round in 1988. He would spend his entire career with the team, being a solid regular from 1992-1998 of his 1989-2000 career. Him being solid though was not about his bat, however. Even as more SS became offensive beasts in the era, Gary was more of a traditionalist.
By traditionalist I mean freakishly good with the glove. 12.8 defensive WAR from Baseball reference, the 3rd best in Angels history. Every single season (besides 1989 when he played 2 game) Gary had a positive defensive WAR. 11 straight seasons. Even Fangraphs has him positive in all his defensive numbers for his career and they are much more conservative when it comes to defense.
Offensively he had his moments, like in 1995 when he became an All Star and posted a pretty decent offensive season of .307/.344/.459. That is an .802 OPS for an OPS+ of 108. He even got some MVP votes that season. In 1998 he wasn’t quite as good with the bat, but was outstanding even more with the glove, which gave him his best season at 3.3 BWAR. Not bad for a glove first and usually glove only SS.
Alas, the steroid era was underway and that same 1998 season which was his best paled in comparison when there was a juiced home run race going on. Just turning 31 in 1999, Gary was on his last legs from the organizational standpoint. Which made 2000 his final year in the MLB, but not before he had his best 12 game stretch of his career, hitting .395 in his short time in 2000.
For his career, he did end up on many of the top 50 lists for the Angels thanks to his longevity. 11th most AB, 12th most plate appearances, 20th most runs scored, 15th most hits (2 behind Rod Carew), 11th most doubles, 18th most triples, 34th most SB, 21st most total bases, and tied for 10th most games played. When he retired, he was actually tied for 4th in games played and to this day there are only 12 players in Angels history with at least 1,000 games played. Longevity is something rare for this franchise.
Angels didn’t need to worry about their defense at short, however. Some kid named Eckstein was ready to take over. Still, for Gary, it was over. He never got to go to the playoffs as even his All Star season in 1995 couldn’t prevent the collapse from happening. With how little the rest of the country paid attention to Anaheim, even finding highlights is hard to do. But there is this one of Gary hitting fellow Top 100 Angel Bartolo Colon deep.
After his playing career was over, Gary went on to manage and coach in the minors back on the east coast. Was in Boston for the 2000’s and did some sports analysis too for their local stations. But he came back to Anaheim in 2011 and 2012, becoming an assistant to the GMs Tony Reagins and Jerry Dipoto. After leaving for Boston again, he came back in 2014 to be a base coach for the Angels for a few seasons before leaving to join the Mets’ bench.
Gary showed that not everything in baseball was about offense. That a team needs more than that. Being a shortstop, it was much more important for him to make good plays anyway. Sure his offensive stats are really 90% compiling due to his long career, but how many Angels players have actually had a long career? With how much change the 90’s brought, smaller division, heartbreak, stadium redesign, new owner, name change… having a constant at one position made it a little easier to accept.