#44 - BOBBY KNOOP - 2B
In September, Bobby Knoop was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame. I wrote a piece summarizing his Angels career. I will just copy and paste it here but you can read the original at THIS LINK if you please.
Bobby Knoop was drafted out of Montebello High School by the Milwaukee Braves in 1957. He didn't make the majors until he debuted with the Angels in April of 1964 at age 25. His 1964 season was one for the defensive record books. He put up a 3.3 dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) at 2B, which stood as the greatest single season mark in franchise history until Darin Erstad accumulated 4.2 WAR in Centerfield in 2002. Knoop's mark still ranks second in franchise history. Also in the top ten seasons of all time is Jim Fregosi's 2.5 WAR at SS in 1964 - consider Dean Chance won the Cy Young Award that year - and that it was give out for all of baseball, not one per league and understand that the defense behind Dean polished up his numbers quite well.
Of all Angels 2B, he played the fourth most games at the position - his 801 games there being surpassed by Howie Kendrick on August 5, the night he was injured in game #802 at 2B. Adam Kennedy is second all time and Bobby Grich - who admitted he was a fan of Knoop's going to games at the Big A as a kid in the 1960s - is first on the list. But defensive stats bare out that none were as good with the leather as Knoop and that BK was great, not just good. A three time gold-glover and one-time All Star while with the Angels, his offensive numbers are similar to Kennedy's, albeit from the right side. KNoop's 803 total games as an Angel still ranks 22nd most in club history.
In franchise history, Knoop still holds a few top ten marks:
His 8.9 dWAR ranks fifth all time and he accrued that in five full seasons and 27 games in 1969 before he was traded. Most everyone on the top ten had much more playing time under the halo to make their marks.
His 25 triples is tied for tenth all time in Angels history with... yep, Howie Kendrick. It took Howie 800 more Plate Appearances to get to that mark. His single season mark of 11 triples in 1966 still ranks sixth.
Knoop was intentionally walked 13 times during the summer of love. That 1967 mark still ranks 10th most in franchise history and was second all time for almost two decades. His 39 total IBB remains the tenth most in club history.
If you consider Gary Pettis the model of a defensive whiz who also contributed with his bat you will pleased to know that he and Knoop are tied with 13. WAR as Angels - ranked 21st all time in club history. Bobby's 7.1 Offensive WAR as an Angel ranks 42nd - but for perspective it is just behind Reggie Jackson's 7.3 at #41 - in almost the same total number of Plate Appearances for both men.
Knoop's 44 home runs still ranks in the Top 50 All Time in club history - add in that it was done during the peak of the deadball era for good measure.
In comparing the defensive numbers of Knoop, Kendrick, Kennedy and Grich, Knoop's defensive numbers with the Angels stand out favorably.
A composite go-to Defensive stat available on BaseballReferenceDotCom is Total Fielding Runs Above Average. A "Total Zone" statistic, this measures the number of runs (above or below average) the player was worth based on the number of plays made.
Howie Kendrick has compiled 31 TFRAA in all his innings at 2B as an Angel. Adam Kennedy accrued 54 TFRAA at 2B with a Halo. Grich (who was much older as an Angel than the other four, having come here as a free agent from Baltimore) and compiled 21, not counting some seasons where his TFRAA went into negative territory. Meanwhile Knoop saved 66 Total Fielding Runs Above Average in his time with the Angels - and it was a substantially shorter period of time than Kennedy and Grich and about the same at 2B as Howie.
And so it is no stretch to say the Bobby Knoop was the greatest defensive second baseman in Angels history. And now he is in the team's Hall of Fame, deservedly so.