What are the greatest single game performances in Angels franchise history?
This is the first installment of an ongoing series exploring WPA throughout Angels history...
With WPA (Win Probability Added - simple explanation LINK here), we can measure how much any player contributes (positively OR negatively) to the outcome of any game with a box score.
So the greatest single game performances in Angels franchise history are...
The Angels designated hitter Chili Davis drove in a run in the bottom of the first inning on a groundout. He struck out looking in the third. He singled and scored in the fifth. The Angels were down 8-6 in the seventh when he doubled and scored. So far a decent game for him personally, but the team was behind. With the score 8-7 in favor of the Pale Hose in the bottom of the ninth with one out and Chad Curtis on 1B, Davis hit a two-run walkoff homer. Angels 9, White Sox 8.
They used to play double headers quit regularly. Some of them went extra innings! Catcher Buck Rodgers was not in the lineup for Game One, which the Angels lost to 4-2.
Now, his real name was Bob Rodgers. But in 1967, having the last name Rodgers and a first name that started with a B would be the equivalent of your name being Luke Skywall... Buck Rodgers was bigger than the soon-to-be cancelled Star Trek back in '67, as big as Luke Skywalker is today, and so even though his baseball card reads "Bob", he was Buck Rodgers and he played for our team.
He brought plenty to game two, though. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Don Mincher and Bubba Morton each singled. The Angels were down 2-0. Buck hit a three-run homer. Cool. But that was not enough. The Orioles tied the game up at three apiece in the top of the seventh. Bummer.
It stayed that way into extras when in the top of the twelfth, Brooks Robinson drove in his second run of the game and it might have been a bigger inning but Frank Robinson was thrown at at 3B in a put-out recorded as 8-6-3-5, which indicates that Frank tried to take 3B on a throw to 1B trying to catch Brooks taking 2B.
That stroke of luck or skill, whatever it might have been, probably did not seem like much as it came at the cost of the lead in extras. With two on and one out in the bottom of the twelfth, reliever Eddie Fisher intentionally walked Bubba Morton in order to get to Rodgers. Buck hit a sacrifice fly to score the tying run and an errant throw by Centerfielder Paul Blair allowed Rick Reichardt to score!
Maybe this shows us the big flaw of WPA, which is that fielding errors are not considered in the calculations. Rodgers hit the ball that would be thrown terribly and got all the credit for the run scoring. This is the place where sabermetrics and "mojo-chemistry" meet - as WPA clearly assumes that the molecular spin that only Buck's grit and willpower could have caused the specific domino effect that led to a sac fly and E-8 delivering the same result as a clutch double.
NEXT UP... not a postseason moment, but a Spiezio appearance nonetheless...