#43 - KIRK MCCASKILL - P
Canadian righty Kirk McCaskill was drafted out of the University of Vermont - by the Winnipeg Jets to play hockey. He was also drafted by the Angels in 1982 to pitch. He was the son of a hockey player, Ted McCaskill who briefly played for the old Los Angeles Sharks of the WHA along with a cup of coffee with the NHL's Minnesota North Stars. But baseball won out - He was in the Halo rotation less than three years later where he trial-by-fired an okay 1985 debut of a 4.70 ERA in 189 IP. Not bad for a 24-year old #5 rotation afterthought.
1986, though, was something few expected - he was easily the team's #2 starter and the American League knew it by mid July when he pitched a complete game shutout in Fenway Park to raise his record to 10-5 and lower his ERA to 3.36 and a great component of the 1986 division winners was cast. By Wins Above Replacement, Kirk's 1986 seasons 4.3 WAR was the 38th best season ever pitched thrown by an Angels arm.
He lost playing time to injuries in 1987 and 1988 and the proof is in the pudding - the Angels failed to make the playoffs either year without ace Mike Witt having a backup starter juggle in some W energy.
1989 was seemingly a make or break year for the then-28-year-okd and he responded with his best season. He only struck out 107 batters compared to 202 in 1986 despite pitching over 200 Innings in each season. He walked thirty fewer batters but otherwise had similar peripherals to '86 except in letting fewer overall runners score. His 130 ERA+ was a career high (ranking in the Top 35 for Angels single season pitching marks) and while the 1989 Angels would not make the playoffs they would actually have qualified for the first Wild Card spot had it existed then.
In addition to pitching great, Kirk was easy on the eyes - he was named on People Magazine's 1991 list of Sexiest People Alive (clocking in at Number 30 - LINK). That offseason Kirk left as a free agent - after his fantastic 1989 and a great 1990 (117 ERA+ and 3 WAR) he lost 19 games in 1991 (and folks say Sports Illustrated Magazine is the one with the curse) and the Angels backed off a contract. It was a wise move on the part of the Halos - he signed with the White Sox but by his second of five seasons there he had switched to middle relief.
His 14.8 WAR ranks 12th all time for an Angels pitcher. His 78 Wins for the franchise still ranks tenth. He pitched 1,221 innings, eleventh most ever by an Halo arm and his 714 strikeouts are the twelfth most. His 189 Games Started is tied with Clyde Wright for ninth most in club history. He had 30 Complete Games (14th most) and 11 Shutouts (eighth most) and these are all reasons why he ranks this high among Angels greats.