Torii Hunter wore the Halo for five seasons. Here are his ten greatest moments in an Angels uniform.
There is almost no chance that the Angels will re-sign outfielder Torii Hunter. And so it is time to look back on his ten greatest games as an Angel.
After losing to the Red Sox in four playoff series dating back to the 1980s, the Angels swept the Chowds in the 2009 ALDS. The first nail in the coffin was a booming three run homer off of Jon Lester in the bottom of the fifth inning of a then-scoreless Game One. It was off the bat of Torii Hunter. There was never any doubt that Torii was a team leader, but for all the talk of chemistry, setting the tone for this series with his bat was his greatest chemical concoction as an Angel.
#2 - APRIL 7, 2008 - Walkoff Grand Slam versus Cleveland
Just a week into a somewhat controversial Five Year, $90 Million contract, Torii hit a walkoff grand slam in front of the hometown faithful, underscoring that his welcome mat was a red carpet. The WPA (Win Probability Added) of .894 was one of the highest in club history.
#3 - APRIL 10, 2009 - Pregame Ceremony for a fallen Angel
The Angels played their first game after the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart at Angel Stadium. The game from the night before had been cancelled. In a solemn pregame ceremony, John Lackey and Torii stood holding Nick's jersey. No Angels fan needs a further explanation of what this moment meant.
#4 - APRIL 18, 2008 - Walkoff Catch
The Mariners would have gone ahead of the Angels in the top of the ninth when Richie Sexson's fly ball went over the the deepest point of the Angel Stadium centerfield fence until Torii Hunter's perfectly timed and placed glove caught it and brought it back. CLICK THIS TO READ WHAT Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing composed in defeat that I could never construct in victory. Priceless. In a season of amazing Spiderman catches, this one most certainly saved the lead and probably saved the game.
#5 - JUNE 8, 2012 - Debut at the Two Hole
A struggling Torii took a game off ahead of the team's travel day to Colorado for a weekend interleague series. He was put into second in the batting order for the first time in his career. Many a player in a contract year would have griped. Torii instead showed up and went six for six and began a comeback to amount to the best season of his career a few days before turning 37.
#6 - MAY 30, 2011 - .726 WPA
This was Torii's second most productive game as an Angel next to Highlight #2 above. The Angels were down 6-3 to Kansas City in the fifth inning when he singled in a run to make it 6-4. He hit a solo homerun in the seventh to make it 6-5. The Royals, however, scored a few more. The Angels played rollercoaser with them and, down 7-6 in the top of the ninth, Torii hit a two run homerun to take the lead for good. Final in KC: Angels over the Royals 10-8.
#7 - AUGUST 3, 2010 - No Drama in Switch to RF
Peter Bourjos was promoted to the big club for good and, recognizing the value of his glove, the Angels asked Torii to move to Right Field. Imagine if Derek Jeter had admitted that he was losing range at shortstop and had selflessly moved to Left Field five seasons ago - do you think the Yankees pitching staff would have benefited? Torii is selfless, team first, hungry for wins and willing to sacrifice his personal goals to see the team win. That is why the fans cheer. He personified integrity on this day. An All Star Gold Glove centerfielder changed positions for a rookie with no drama.
#8 - JULY 4, 2010 - A Fourth of July to Remember
Some games are blowouts and advanced stats do not measure individual performance as well as good old fashioned mashing. Torii hit two homeruns and had seven RBI in this 11-0 Angels win. The game was 1-0 in the bottom of the third when he hit a three run bomb off of starting pitcher Anthony Lerew, but he was just getting warmed up. He hit a two run homer in the seventh and a two-run single in the eighth. He also walked and scored in the sixth in the game perhaps best remembered for being the one Paul McAnulty homered in.
#9 - SEPTEMBER 8, 2008 - I Don't Take No Mess
In this 12-1 blowout of the Yankees at home three days before clinching the American League West title, Torii Hunter was tagged out hard at home by Ivan Rodriguez. It was 6-1 Angels at the peak of a charmed season but that did not cool the fire in the Hula Dula when he felt the slap of the glove was unnecessarily hard. He walked behind Pudge and gave him a push, he gave him a shove, he pushed with all his might, he pushed with all his love. A bench-clearing brawl ensued, After the game Torii spoke his peace for all of Angels fandom in the face of Yanqui imperialism, "I don't take no mess." Neither do we, Torii, and thanks for reminding us.
#10 - SEPTEMBER 30, 2012 - Final Road Win as an Angel Helps Bury Rangers
The Texas Rangers collapsed at the end of the 2012 season, falling out of the AL West lead in the final game, forced to settle for a Wild Card playoff spot that they lost. One reason the Rangers were one and done was Torii's third greatest offensive game as an Angel as measured by WPA. He accrued .683 of the victory with his bat. In the top of the ninth inning with two on and tow out, facing former Twins teammate Joe Nathan, Torii hit a booming double for a 5-4 win that twisted the knife deeper in the flat, listless Cocaine Cowboy Ranger Fadeouts, sending them reeling to a humiliating last week of the season.