If Darin Erstad had played his career for the Yankees, Central Park would have been renamed in his honor.
Here are the Top 9 Highlights in his Angels career:
9. 2004 Gold Glove at 1B made him the only player in baseball history to win a GG for an infield and outfield position.
8. June 25, 2000 – Erstad becomes the third player in baseball history to hit a leadoff and walkoff homerun in the same game. Two more players have done it since – five players in 128 seasons.
7. His 2000 season saw him get 240 hits for a .355 Batting Average in 747 Plate Appearances – all of these marks remain Angels single season records. Vlad Guerrero tied Erstad’s 366 total bases from that season in his MVP 2004 campaign.
6. On August 18, 2000 he made an amazing catch to rob a walkoff hit from Jorge Posada and end the bottom of the tenth inning. It remains the single best leaping lateral catch I have ever seen an outfielder make. But he wasn’t done – in the top of the eleventh he hit a tie-breaking solo homerun that would be the difference in the game.
5. 3.39 Range Factor in CF in 2002… never be under the impression that the Angels would have won it all without Ersty’s glove assisting a flyball-prone pitching staff.
4. Game Three of the 2002 ALDS October 4, 2002 – Down 6-5 to the Yankees in the bottom of the 8th, Erstad doubled home Scott Spiezio to tie the game and force Mike Stanton from the game. Tim Salmon hit a 2-run bomb to score Erstad and the Angels had their first home postseason win since 1986 and were up two games to one in a a best of three series.
3. Game Two of the 2002 ALCS October 9, 2002 – Erstad batting with one out in the top of the first inning hit a HR into the retractable seat bank of the old HHH Metrodome. The ball just stuck there and the Angels never looked back, going up 4-0 early and cruising to a 6-3 win. The homer’s Win Probability Added of 10% was the biggest hit of the game measured by WPA.
2. Game Six of the 2002 World Series October 26, 2002 – Erstad hit a homerun Joe Buck immortalized with the call “Smoked into right and it’s a one-run game”. The Angels had scored three in the bottom of the seventh but were still down 5-3 with only six outs remaining before they would be eliminated. Erstad led off the bottom of the eighth with this solo homer off of Rob Nenn. A big step toward saving the season.
And finally the Number One highlight of Darin’s Angels career took place on Sunday evening, October 27, 2002 and it is five simple words:
ERSTAD SAYS HE’S GOT IT…
Glad you remembered and included Number 6 Rev. For me that is among the greatest catches I’ve ever seen, not least because it saved the game — it was highly meaningful. This catch was better than the Edmonds catch in Kansas City. Edmonds and Ersty were so different. While Jim was a flashy pretty-boy who intentionally got late jumps on balls so he could look good making lunging or diving catches Ersty left it all out on the field every game and never gave less than 100%.
I’ll always remember that series in NY because I flew there that weekend and attended the Sunday game, which the Angels won on the back of a late Salmon HR. But that Friday extra-innings affair (highlighted by the Erstad catch) was one of the best games in Angels history. If this site ever does a “The 10 Best Angels Games Ever” that contest will have to be on the list.
I still get chills when I see Ersty make the catch that clinches the World Series.