#24 Adam Kennedy, 2B
He came to the team in a controversial trade, a prospect handed a position the team had seen remain unsteady since Bobby Grich had retired 14 years earlier. The player he was traded for was popular with the fans but hated by his teammates. While it sounds like a soap opera, Adam Kennedy never made it into one. He just played better and better baseball until he became an all-time Angel.
His lifetime .282 Batting Average is 8th all-time for an Angel with more than 2000 plate appearances. His 107 stolen bases are 10th in franchise history. His stellar defense has been a solidifying presence on the team.
But it might be those three homeruns on an October afternoon that he is eternally remembered for. The three homers that broke every franchise curse, as well as silencing the grumbling army of fans still loyal to that outfielder traded for Adam. Nobody could ever call it a bad trade. One Angel had lifted the team into the World Series - the butterfly wingflap had caused the prayed-for tsunami.
Beyond his 2002 heroics, Adam Kennedy was an integral part in the Angels' Western Division Titles of 2004 and 2005.
The Chronicler from the Chronicles of the Lads blog examines Adam's place in Franchise History among 2ndbasmen:
Kennedy ranks pretty well on this list for reasons beyond his turning "ALCS Game 5" into a happy memory instead of a tragic one. He's got to be the second-best second basemen in club history, doesn't he? I mean, we all know Mr. Grich is first. The number two spot comes down to Adam, Sandy Alomar, and Bobby Knoop.
*Alomar was with the Angels six years. He enjoys a good defensive rep (he is before my time), but his OPS+ with the Angels was 71, which ain't good.
*Knoop was with the Angels five years. He was by all accounts a great defender, and an okay hitter (an 89 OPS+ -- he played during a big time for pitchers, which makes his raw stats look uglier than they are).
*Then you have Kennedy, who has played six years for the team, has an OPS+ of 92, has deserved two or three Gold Gloves that he hasn't won because the system is corrupt, and he's one of the franchise's biggest postseason heroes. He's easily the number two guy, if you ask me.
What's more, he's one of my personal favorites. The guy's just fun to watch, one of those people who contributes, and who you don't really miss until he's gone. And he's responsible for one of the most exciting days of my life -- I was in attendance for ALCS Game 5. The good one.
Angel Lifer Brent Carter was also there that day to see the 3-Bomb miracle, but also sees the dynamics of what makes Adam Kennedy so great:
His incredible improvement on defense over the years has made Kennedy the all-around great player that the Angels thought he could be when they took the Cardinals package of he and Bottenfield for Edmonds. Fortunately, Kennedy has become a one of the better secondbasemen in baseball and thus validated the trading of "Pretty Boy" Edmonds. Kennedy is a great contact hitter, excellent at executing the hit and run and a good bunter. He does a lot of the little things Scioscia likes the bottom of the order to get done. Hopefully he will make the All-Star team this coming season -- he deserves it. I'll never forget that Ruthian performance in Game 5 of the ALCS -- I was there, and it was just spectacular to see.
In our Top 40 balloting, Adam was ranked #22 all-time by Brent as well as by Matt Welch. Four other balloteers ranked him 24th - matching his final position on the Countdown.