MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Los Angeles Angels Mt. Rushmore
Whether you know them as the Los Angeles Angels, the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, this franchise has had some success under each name. In their second season way back in 1962, the Los Angeles Angels finished third in the American League with the league’s best road record at a time when expansion teams had little chance of competing. As the California Angels, the team won three AL West titles from 1979-86, losing in the ALCS each year. In 2002, the Anaheim Angels won the organization’s only World Series title. And as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the team has won five division titles. Of the franchise’s 54 seasons, there have been 23 winning seasons with more than half of those coming since 1995.
The original owner of the Los Angeles Angels, Autry held the team until his death in 1998. He also served as vice-president of the American League from 1983 until his death. Autry was determined to bring a winner to Anaheim and showed the willingness to support efforts to bring top players to the team via free agency. The team made the playoffs three times and had six second-place finishes during his ownership, but never reached the World Series. The club retired No. 26 in his honor.
The manager since 2000, Scioscia has directed the team to 11 winning seasons in those 15 years including six division titles and a World Series championship in 2002 as the American League wild card team. Under his leadership, the Angels have been one of the most aggressive teams on the bases and regularly have one of the best pitching staffs in the AL.
The hard-throwing righthander became the Ryan Express in Anaheim, frequently reaching triple digits on radar guns. Among his record seven no-hitters, he threw four for the Angels from 1973-75. During his eight seasons spent in California, Ryan averaged 302 strikeouts per season and just 190 hits allowed.
Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the expansion draft, Fregosi was the first major star for the Angels. The shortstop made six All-Star teams, starting for the AL twice, in 1964 and 1968. He and Hall of Famer Rod Carew are the only six-time All-Stars in franchise history. He returned to manage the team in 1978 and directed the team to its first division title in 1979.
Garret Anderson is the all-time leader in most every offensive category.
Tim Salmon ranks second all-time in almost every offensive category.
Lefthander Chuck Finley is the franchise’s all-time leader with 165 wins.
Possibly the slowest — although one of the best — leadoff men in history, Brian Downing is third in almost every offensive category.
Before Dave Henderson one-upped Bobby Grich in 1986, the All-Star second baseman’s home run to put the Angels on the cusp of their first World Series is considered one of the greatest moments in team history.
Hall of Famer Rod Carew earned most of his accolades as a Twin, but he was a vital cog on two playoff teams.
Reggie Jackson earned his first big free agent deal by starring for three World Series winners in Oakland, then became Mr. October in New York. But he did have 123 home runs for the Angels and a cameo in Naked Gun.
The popular closer Troy Percival is the team leader with 316 saves and closed out the only World Series title in team history.
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Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: