BIG HAT TO FILL - Stephen Dunn
The 12th-ranked Angels acquisition, as voted on by the HHVB. Gubi-approved!
In yesterday's installment, we reviewed the eight-season tenure of the fan-favorite super-utility man, and 13th-ranked on the countdown, Chone Figgins.
Today, however, we'll be taking a look at #12--and at one of the first non-expansion transactions in Angels history that brought forth the Angels' first star pitcher.
On December 14, 1960, the first-ever MLB Expansion Draft was held, to stock the major league rosters of the Los Angeles Angels and of the reincarnated Washington Senators. With the 42nd pick of the draft, the Angels selected outfielder Joe Hicks. But Hicks would never play a game with the Angels. Why? Because the Senators had selected a player the Angels wanted, and so in retaliation, the Angels did the same. The two teams, as soon as the draft ended, struck a deal. The Angels would send Hicks to the Senators, and in return, the Angels received...Dean Chance.
DEAN CHANCE, STARTING PITCHER
74-66, 2.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 48 CG, 21 SHO, 857 K, 122 ERA+, 19.1 WAR (average 3.2, 6 seasons)
Wilmer Dean Chance, though not the Angels' first ever number-one starter (that honor belongs to the one and only Eli Grba), was truly the Angels' first real ace. After a brief stint in 1961, faring horribly, he was installed in the rotation in the Angels' pennant-threatening season of 1962, and he delivered in almost every fashion: 14-10, 2.96 ERA, 24 starts, six complete games, two shutouts, 16 games finished, 8 saves, 127 strikeouts, and a 3rd-place finish for Rookie of the Year. After a "down" season in 1963 (his respectable 3.19 ERA earned him a 13-18 record from a paltry Angels offense), he came into 1964 guns a-blazing and put up a career season: 20-9, 1.65 ERA (MLB-leading), 15 complete games (AL-leading), 11 shutouts (MLB-leading), 200 ERA+ (MLB-leading), 0.2 HR/9 (MLB-leading), 278.1 IP (AL-leading), 207 K, and to go with all that, 4 saves. Chance handily won the Cy Young Award--back when only one was awarded, regardless of league--and earned an All-Star spot and a 5th-place finish in AL MVP voting.
Chance put up a respectable season in 1965, though certainly not the sequel sought by many, going 15-10 with a 3.15 ERA and 164 K. 1966 saw another good season from Chance, although issues with his control became apparent. Despite a 3.08 ERA, Chance went 12-17 and walked a league-high 114 batters. After the season ended, the Angels saw these control issues, coupled with the fact that his 1964 season was likely the exception and not his rule, and flipped Chance to the Minnesota Twins with Jackie Hernandez in exchange for Pete Cimino, Jimmie Hall and Don Mincher. He went on to post two great seasons in Minnesota, however, somewhat bucking the Angels FO's forecast, until he began to fade in 1970, bouncing around with Cleveland and the New York Mets. His final season came in 1971 with Detroit, at the young age of 30.
Chance burned brightly as quickly as he burned out, but his efforts in the Angels first contending season, plus his Cy Young season of 1964, cemented his place in Angels lore as the emblematic team ace, until the Angels swung another pitcher with control issues in a trade a few years later, whose legacy ran much larger than Chance's did.
In voting, Chance received one third-place vote, one sixth-place vote, three seventh-place votes, one eighth-place vote, and one tenth-place vote, for a total of 29 points.
The team's first-ever ace, Mark Gubicza's idol, a prime example of even the brightest stars losing their shine. But when he was bright...man, he was blinding.