John Lepore | May 4th, 2020
If we have a Major League Baseball season this year, it will be the 60th for the California/Los Angeles Angels. For teams like the Angels that have a shorter history than most, it is hard to pick four players. Nevertheless, let’s see who would be on the Los Angeles Angels Mount Rushmore.
Be sure to check out all of our Mount Rushmore articles here.
Mike Trout (2011 – Present)
The best player in the world being here is a no-brainer. After a forgettable 40-game season in 2011, Trout started his domination in 2012. He won Rookie of the Year honors leading the American League in runs (129) and SBs (49). Trout finished second to Miguel Cabrera in the Most Valuable Player voting. It started a string of eight consecutive years where the Angels center fielder would finish in the top four of MVP voting. He’s won the award three times and finished second four times.
What defines Trout’s greatness is not just the fact that he has incredible talent, but he is incredibly consistent. He never has a bad season. His career-lows in wRC+ and wOBA are 167 and .402 respectively and his 72.8 rWAR already ranks 56th among position players and 85th overall. Did I mention he’s only 28 years old? Blessed with a linebacker’s body and Mickey Mantle‘s talent, the good kid from South Jersey, who has a penchant for weather patterns, absolutely deserves his face on the Los Angeles Angels Mount Rushmore.
Nolan Ryan (1972 – 1979)
On December 10th, 1971 The New York Mets traded the 24-year-old Texan to the California Angels as part of a deal to bring shortstop Jim Fregosi over to Queens. Ryan was coming off a season where he threw 152.1 innings with 116 walks and 137 strikeouts. His 10-14 record and 3.97 ERA weren’t impressive either. Boy did the switch flip. Ryan would always walk a ton of guys but in his first of eight years with the Angels, Ryan tossed 284 innings, won 19 games, and posted a 2.28 ERA. Although he led the league with 157 walks, he also led the AL with 329 strikeouts and allowed just 5.3 hits/9. The Ryan Express had arrived.
Ryan set the all-time single-season strikeout record the following year. He struck out Rich Reese in the 11th inning on September 27th to pass Sandy Koufax. In the eight seasons Ryan played for the Angels, he would lead the league in Ks seven times. Although he never won a Cy Young Award, his only three top-3 finishes came in California. His years on the West Coast are when he established himself as an absolute workhorse. He started 288 games and completed 156 of them averaging 272.2 IP. His #30 was retired by the Angels in 1992.
Tim Salmon (1992 – 2006)
Salmon played in an Angels uniform for his entire 14-year career. Similarly to Trout, Salmon came up for a brief stint and did poorly only to bounce back and win ROY honors the following season. Starting with the 1993 season, he put together an excellent eight-year stretch. From 1993-2000, Salmon slashed .294/.396/.532 with a 162-game average of 34 HRs, 105 runs, and 112 RBI. In that time he had a 138 wRC+ with a .400 wOBA. After a rough 2001, Salmon bounced back in 2002 to help lead the Angels to their only World Series title. Not only did he hit 22 bombs and drive in 88 during the season, but he came through in the World Series going 9-26 with two HRs and five RBI. King Fish was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame in 2015.
Brian Downing (1978 – 1990)
Many younger fans likely won’t remember Downing, but older fans surely recall “The Hulk”. He came to the California Angels on December 5th, 1977 from the Chicago White Sox as part of a trade that sent Bobby Bonds to the South Side. Downing was a 27-year-old catcher at the time with an impeccable eye at the plate. In 1979, he had an excellent year finishing third in the AL, batting .326. He missed most of the 1980 season and the Angels decided to move him to left field.
He never caught another game after 1981 and in 1982, without the grind of being behind the plate, Downing’s power came through. For nine seasons from 1982-1990, Downing had a .367 wOBA and 129 wRC+. He averaged 25 HRs per 162 and his plate discipline remained amazing with a 12.7% BB Rate and an 11.3% K Rate. Downing was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame in 2009.
Check out the 2020 Season Preview of the Angels here.
Questions and comments?
Hit us up on the Socials:
Check out our Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow John Lepore on Twitter @jball0202
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images