Top 100 Angels: Scott SPIEZIO #37

Genral Manager Bill Stoneman's first two signings: Scioscia and Spiezio

#37 SCOTT SPIEZIO, Infielder (2000 - 2003)

Post-2005 Top 100 Angels Rank: 33 - Read our Spiezio coverage.

Franchise Win Shares Rank: 62 (45 Win Shares as an Angel)

Highest Franchise Ranking:
SLG% - .446 - 10th Place All Time (minimum 2,000 Plate Appearances),
OPS - .787 - 11th Place

From the 2005 comments section, here is Rob McMillin's excellent summary of Scott's career as an Angel:

There was little in Spiezio's background to predict his coming, brief stardom. The son of major leaguer Ed Spiezio, a utility infielder/outfielder and sometime starter for the Cards, Padres, and Chisox, the switch-hitting Scott was a sixth-round pick by the A's in the 1993 draft who raised few eyebrows. Drafted out of the University of Illinois, he showed enough promise to make the big club as the team's starting second baseman in 1997, spending about half his time at third in 1998. But in 1999, the advent of power-hitting Eric Chavez cut his time at third, and the A's acquisition of former Angel Tony Phillips to play second relegated him to a migratory role with the club, filling in whatever infield spot needed a player that day. He lost the starting job at second base to veteran Tony Phillips, and actually spent a significant amount of time at AAA Vancouver; to make the indignity worse, the A's traded with the Angels for Randy Velarde three days after he was promoted back to Oakland.

Allowed to walk as a free agent that offseason, the Angels picked up Spiezio in January, 2000, as the first major free agent signing by new GM Bill Stoneman. Stoneman had signed three second basemen that offseason, the other two being Pat Kelly and Jason Bates, both signed to minor league contracts, and Trent Durrington. Former president Richard Brown thought the acquisition wasn't nearly enough, rebuking Stoneman's claim that the team would contend as an "insult" to the fans. With an offseason trade of Jim Edmonds yielding promising newcomer Adam Kennedy, Spiezio mostly spent time at DH that year.

With the discovery of a ruptured tendon in Mo Vaughn's leg in January, 2001, the Angels' first base job opened up. The heir apparent was old Angels favorite Wally Joyner, but a strong spring training by Spiezio made the choice tough on sophomore manager Mike Scioscia. But Spiezio had a bit more pop, hitting 17 homers the year before, versus Joyner's five. The answer finally came on opening day, when Spiezio started at the position. Managing only 13 home runs, he started an unfortunate Angels tradition on recent teams of having weak-hitting first basemen.

Spiezio's 2002, while not a barn-burner for home runs (he only hit 12), marked the high point of his OBP (.371) in any season with more than 400 at bats. The Mo Vaughn trade cemented Spiezio's position as the starting first baseman, and any lack of power from first was balanced by the acquisition of righty-masher Brad Fullmer.

Of course, Spiezio's postseason outburst of 19 RBIs on 18 hits was the stuff of legends; while Angels fans will forever replay his Game 6 homer, he also played a critical role in the ALDS against the Yankees as one of four Halos to homer in the crucial Game 2 the Angels won 8-6 at Yankee Stadium. Too, he helped provide the exclamation point on the club's ALCS win against the Twins in Game 5 with a solo shot against Joe Mays in the fifth that tied the game followed by Adam Kennedy's second shot on that historic day.

Spiezio's heroics put the club in a precarious position with regards to his then-expired contract. On the one hand, he was essentially a utility infielder playing out of position at first, but on the other, the fans would riot if he were allowed to simply walk. Bill Stoneman made a good choice, re-signing him for one year. A significant drop in his batting average from .285 in 2002 to a more pedestrian .265, along with a much more shocking drop in his OBP to .326, led to his release at the end of a disappointing, injury-plagued season for the Angels.

Rob (aka scareduck) blogs at the 6 - 4 - 2 Baseball Blog, a daily must-read.

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