#85 - J.T. Snow, 1B
This was a player who I was dying to worship. Didn't come to pass. Quite the disappointment. Helped heartily in 1995, though, getting him this far up the list. Played a lot of games as an Angel. 2 Gold Gloves under the Halo. Funny that he should show up on the day this team is courting a lard-ass overhyped, arthritic Free Agent First-Baseman...
The world's #1 Angel Fan, Shredder, of the L.A. Seitz Blog, reminisces...
When I think of JT Snow as an Angel, two things stand out to me, and neither of them is the fact that he came over in the Jim Abbot trade (which would make it three things, I guess).
The first thing is the incredibly hot start he had in his first season in Anaheim. The majority of the hype that season centered around Tim Salmon, and rightfully so. There was a feeling among some that Damion Easley would be the best of the trio of rookies that found their way into the starting lineup on opening day (when Snow hit his first Angel home run). But it was snow who had the scorching April that made him an instant rookie of the year favorite. As quickly as it came, it went. He never did live up to the promise he showed that month, although he did have a solid 1995, and truth be told, in that stretch, he played miles above what was expected of him, and his numbers at the end of his rookie season weren't awful for a rookie. I still have this vivid memory of how sweet his swing looked from the left side when he'd hit a home run.
The second thing I think of is something that still boggles my mind to this day. How could a legitimate gold glove first baseman, and arguably the best first baseman in the league at the time, miss such a weakly hit 12-hopper down the first base line at such a critical time in the one game playoff against Seattle in 1995? I still don't think the Angels would have won that game, but how could he have failed to even knock it down? The Chronicler once mentioned in a post at his site that Wally would have had that ball. I still maintain that I'm pretty sure my dead granmother would have had it.
Still, to this day, I'd much rather have had him at first for a few more years than the rotting corpse of Allen Watson and his 93 ERA+.
Now let's hear from Blackhawk Waterloo, the Chronicler himself...
J.T. Snow was horrible.
"Surely," you say, "you exaggerate. He wasn't great, but he certainly wasn't horrible."
Let me clarify:
Snow had just short of 1800 at-bats with the Angels, and in that time hit 258/333/410, an OPS+ of 91 (100 is average, by the way).
There are fifteen players who have had between 1600 and 1900 at-bats with the Angels; of those fifteen, Snow ranks a sterling 13th in OPS+ as an Angel. The two below him are Jerry Remy, a second baseman, and Gary Pettis, a superlatively excellent defensive center fielder who stole mondo bases.
How good was Ron Jackson, with the Angels? Or Jim Spencer? The answer -- at least as it pertains to hitting -- is: better than J.T. Snow. They each had OPS+'s better than Snow's, and had roughly the same number of at-bats.
The Angels second baseman their first couple of years was a guy named Billy Moran. Now, Billy Moran is before my time, and likely before yours, dear reader. But Billy Moran, while playing second base, managed a 94 OPS+ in about 130 less at-bats than Snow. That's not bad.
"Yes, yes," you continue to say. "But he was a Gold Glove first baseman!"
Well, he won some Gold Gloves, it's true. But I never thought he deserved one, not even close. Yes, he was an excellent receiver of infielders' throws. And he had very good hands -- within the range of a step and dive. If he had to move more then two steps for anything, it was past him.
Luis Sojo's triple in the 1995 play-off game. How did Snow, Alleged Gold Glover, not even knock that ball down? I still don't understand it. I never will. (Wally woulda had it.)
We traded J.T. Snow for Allen Watson, who gave us one mediocre year before ripping open his arm while trying to open a beer bottle. I don't care; it was still a good trade. Snow was entering his age 29 season and put up exactly one season with the Angels where he was a better than league-average hitter.
One year! Out of three-and-a-third! As a first baseman, where you have to be at least a decent hitter! It would have been a good trade if we had traded him for Mark Gubicza and Mike Bovee (as if anyone were stupid enough to -- oh, whoops...).
He went on to have a few solid years with the Giants, but Snow just never did much of anything with the Angels, outside of 1995 (where he had a decent offensive year, but still in the bottom half of AL first basemen). He was acquired for Jim Abbott, he was replacing Wally Joyner in the smooth-swinging-smooth-fielding lefty first baseman role ... he had an uphill battle, it's true, as those were two huge Angel icons of the time. But he just never did much of anything in an Angel uniform.
Okay, maybe he wasn't horrible. But he wasn't very good, either.