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!
Since I was born over a decade after Gary Pettis played his last game in an Angel uniform, I only know him as the third base coach down in Houston, down with those baseball players who may have used a little extra help to reach said third base. In looking up Pettis’s stats, I found a decently valuable player who played a pretty mean center field and ran like the wind.
By traditional metrics, Pettis was a prototypical player. He couldn’t hit much, but he stole bases at a ferocious rate back in the 80s, when everyone was running. Compiling 186 stolen bases during his Angel career, he checks in at 3rd on the all-time list, only behind Chone Figgins and Mike Trout. He stole those bases at a 79.8% clip, higher than the mark required to ensure the running was worth it. And frankly, as much as decry Trout stealing bases, because he has gotten a little thicker, and because the injury risk is too great, I do miss a good, solid base stealer, and Pettis is one of those.
From 1982-1987, Pettis slashed .242/.332/.319/.651, good for an OPS+ of 80. His OBP is high for someone of that OPS+, and he used this above-average OBP and speed to his advantage. In fact, his oWAR totals were all positive save that final season in 1987, when he suffered a down year offensively and on the basepaths. After the season, the Angels shipped Pettis off to Detroit.
A good chunk of Pettis’s value, however, came with the glove. As the LA Times puts it, “Defense was never a problem. Pettis could always make the running catch, the diving catch, the silky-smooth spectacular catch. He has won five Gold Glove awards.” Combining his defense and the fact that the position was offensively-starved, Pettis managed 13.2 bWAR in essentially four full seasons, topped by an amazing 5.1 bWAR 1986 campaign, proved to be especially impressive. He hit well in the postseason series against Boston that year.
Fun facts: His 1985 baseball card did not feature him. His son plays in the NFL.