(This post was edited to fix some mistakes. Sorry about that.)
Acquired in Free Agency in 2008, Torii Hunter was a defensive star and a big splash made by Mr. Del Taco himself, Tony Reagins. He had already won 7 Gold Gloves and was mostly known for robbing home runs like the one vs Barry Bonds in the 2002 All Star Game. He was welcomed, but there was some cause for concern. After all, Gary Mathews Jr was also known for robbing home runs and he didn’t do so well. Hunter had the longer track record, but was also 32. There really wasn’t any room for improvement and keeping things up as a CF would be difficult at his age.
Torii Hunter didn’t decline though, in fact, he got better. His top 3 seasons offensively were as an Angel. Hunter fulfilled the Big Splash expectations and even surpassed them. In 5 seasons, Torii Hunter bridged the gap from the 2000’s golden age to Mike Trout. And in every season he brought his A game.
It didn’t take long in 2008 for the Angels to see how good he was. As on April 7th Torii Hunter hit a walk off Grand Slam. It was an indication on how the season would go for him. 21 home runs and 37 doubles for an OPS of .810 and an OPS+ of 111. Beyond just being a solid CF though, Hunter brought joy and energy to the team. While the team fell to Boston in the ALDS, Hunter won another Gold Glove, and his BWAR of 3.5 was 4th best on the team.
2009 was even better for Hunter. With a 128 OPS+ and career best .873 OPS, Hunter was motivated. In part due to what happened early in the season as Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver. The incident really impacted him. Hunter made the All Star roster in 2009, won the Gold Glove again, and got his first Silver Slugger, He was certainly a slugger now, with a Slugging of .508 and a three home run night.
With a BWAR of 5.3, second best on the team, and a promise to make Nick proud, it was the Angels vs. the Red Sox yet again in the ALDS. It was the third straight season of Angels vs. Red Sox, and everyone was ready to be let down again. But Hunter said not this time! With Torii fired up, everyone else played their part and the Angels made it to the ALCS. But then the MFY, with Teixeira came into town – and the most stacked team the Angels had isn recent memory, lost.
Hunter was impressive in 2010 as well, making the All Star Game for the Angels in Anaheim. He also had an OPS+ of 126 with 23 home runs and 36 doubles. Sure it was only worth 3 BWAR as his OPS dipped but with Vlad gone, he was the team’s slugger. Age was getting to him and the rigors of CF were taking a toll. He still made great plays but he was pushed more to RF as younger, speedier guys were on the roster. He still played mostly in CF but it was for the last time.
Now as the starting RF for the Angels, Hunter adapted quickly, and his 2011 numbers were amazing per usual. 3.6 BWAR, 116 OPS+, hitting 23 home runs again and having fun. The team was stacked, yet couldn’t win enough games to get into the playoffs. This was the year of peak Weaver, peak Bourjos, peak Angels Haren, and peak Aybar. It was also the year Trout got his first games in, but it was not enough.
Saving the best for last, in a contract year, Torii Hunter gave it his all. Comfy in RF, Hunter has a career best 129 OPS+ and a beastly 5.4 BWAR. It was a year where he just had his eye on the ball, hitting .313 on the season even as his strikeouts went up. He was second to Trout that season and they really enjoyed each other. Unfortunately, no playoffs again, and it was time for Free Agency.
Conflict with the Angels
Things did not go smoothly with the Angels and Hunter off the field. Earlier in 2012, Hunter had a gun pulled on him by police in his own home. The Angels told him to keep quiet about it.
Later, when in free agency, he wasn’t kept by the team and it was apparent that Arte Moreno wasn’t being forthcoming with the plans when in discussions with Hunter. Arte claimed that money was tight, and unable to afford Hunter so he left for Detroit and Arte before signed Josh Hamilton to a big deal. Hunter was mad and at being lied to and went on to still be great in Detroit. Fans didn’t like to see it go down that way, but hey, Josh Hamilton was a big bat, it would be fine… /s
Torii Hunter was one of the best FA signings in Angels history. He is 20th all time in BWAR for the Angels, 13th best position player, has the 11th best batting average, 11th best OPS, 18th most home runs, and the 9th best OPS+. A consistant, excellent player who in five seasons had 258 extra base hits, more than Spiez Head, Kendrys, and Napoli. Despite playing in only the 31st most games in Angels history, he has the 12th most offensive BWAR. He is on 35 top 50 lists, and if you were to rank just OF, Hunter has the 5th best OPS, 7th most Home Runs, 6th most hits, 7th most extra base hits and 7th best OPS+.
But it was beyond just numbers where Torii Hunter had an impact. Mike Trout looked up to him and Hunter really rubbed off on Trout. Hunter was a 9 time Gold Glove winning CF. Trout listened when he had something to say. Vets helping the young players get better is a part of their job, but some do not do so well of it. To see Hunter’s impact this far in the future, he certainly belongs up there as one of the greatest Angels in franchise history.
He does indeed “belong up there as one of the greatest Angels,” and in fact l, I think this rating is too low for Torii. In my estimation he is somewhere between 11-15, (probably 11 or 12) just missing the Top Ten being nudged out by Vladdy.
I don’t think he was nudged out of the top 10 by Vlad. I rank Vladdy top 5. My top 5 in no particular order
* Downing/Salmon (tossup)
I have Vladdy lower, mainly because of his key playoff failures that likely cost the Angels playoff series vs Boston on two separate occasions;
My Top Twelve;
1 ) Trout
3 ) Salmon
what? No Andy Hassler?!?
I haven’t made a list but if I were to do so I’d start making a pile of names to be considered and there would be a lot of 1986 and 2002 names on it. I’d consider Mike Witt and Chuck Finley and Jered Weaver, along with Ryan, Percy, Dean Chance. Hitters….Trout, Vlad, Salmon are givens, then Carew, Downing, Glaus, Grich, DeCinces, GA. I’d probably consider Boone, too.
Anyway, I’d likely end up with about 30 names and then the hard part would start, narrowing that down to, say, a top 10.
Yeah, that is a good method Eric. That is kind of how I do it, and it is not strictly based on total Angels WAR. Guys like Witt, Finley, Baylor, Carew, Boone, Bengie, Eckstein etc would round out my Top 20.
No worries. Difference of opinion is all, and that’s fine.
Hell of a player but most Angels fans overlook the fact that he was a racist homophobe who defended an abuser (Mayweather). That certainly wouldn’t fly today.
I loved Torii as a Twin. He was my favorite non-Angel then I found out on Thanksgiving Day that he was now my favorite Angel. Always a play worth the price of admission, always a smile, and the HUGE bomb off Lester in game 1 in 2009.
He’s very high on my all time favorite players list.
Yep. Same here Jeff.
I love the guy, and he’s one of the few players whose jersey I own.
He was the spiritual leader of the Halos while he was here. He had all the qualities of a team leader, including passion, commitment, inspirational ability, sacrifice, and even a great sense of humor to help lighten the mood in the clubhouse when necessary.
Torii Hunter is everything a Major League Baseball player should be.
Hunter was certainly a favorite of mine as well. Him and Weaver really were the team in 2010 and 2011.
Torii was sooooo friggin’ pumped after he hit that blast.
I was there. It was awesome. Torii was really the first player whose career highlights I got to see live. I moved to OC in 2006 and bought my first mini plan in 2007.
So I saw the walk off Grand Slam, the incredible catch on Mother’s Day, and that epic bomb off Lester among a litany of other highlights and web gems. I also saw a young Mike Trout trail Torii for a year, learning as much as he could. And I’m thankful that Trout had Torii as a mentor.
I loved Torii. I remember when he ran into the concrete wall in SF. The joke was that Torii was fine, but the wall went on the 10-day list. [p.s. yes, I know Torii went on the DL]
Uh, 2009 was when the MFY happened, not the ChiSox. The ChiSox happened in 2005.
Also, Torii signed with Detroit BEFORE the Halos signed Hamilsuck.
So what if Torii signed with Detroit before?
That’s not the point; the point is that Arte lied. He never negotiated with Torii in good faith. He made an insultingly low offer and then claimed “We tried” (to appease the fans), but that was bullshit.
Arte has something against Torii, partly because Torii was vocal about Arte spending to sign free agents etc. But so what? Star players in the NBA do that all the time. It came out of a place of Torii wanting the Angels to be the best team possible, not from him trying to tell Arte what to do, which is seemingly how Arte took it….
It’s a matter of getting cause and effect correct. Facts matter. If WE can’t get the story right, how do we expect anyone else to? Yes, Torii left because Arte was jerking him around, but he DID NOT leave because we signed Cokehead.
You are correct that the writer got his chronology wrong. But I just need to keep reminding people that the narrative of “Torii left in FA,” is all wrong. Torii WANTED to stay. All Arte needed to do was make a decent and fair offer. But Arte did not want Torii. That’s the truth, not the other way around.
Still, a lot of folks have the idea that Torii was some kind of mercenary, lol. That’s BS.
You may know this Red but a lot of people don’t.
I agree with this. When it comes to facts, this blog should be held to the very highest standards if we want to be thought of as the best place for on the internet for Angels news and discussion.
Oh wow. How did i mess that up? I have to stop doing these things past midnight. Sorry.