#40 - SCOTT SPIEZIO, 1B
First we have to look at two separate Scott Spiezios - The man who had exactly 2,000 Plate Appearances for the club and the man who showed up for the 2002 playoffs looking to break a curse.
Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman signed Scott Spiezio as one of his first acts on the job. The four year, eight million dollar contract was back-loaded, ensuring Speez of plenty of rope. He had played a few infield positions for the Angels but, against all sabemetric wisdom (a Stoneman specialty), the team put him at DH and then primarily at1B and there he performed a little better than league average for four seasons: His OPS+ for his four seasons here: 99, 99, 115 and 105. The best one there, the 15% better than average was of course, his 2002 season... but again let's just talk about his regular seasons.
DH and 1B are power positions, so Scott Spiezio has no great contribution in those departments that correlate with him being an irreplaceable first baseman. He hit 58 HR (32nd most by a Halo) and his slugging percentage of .446 ranks 17th best in club history. HIs OP+ of 105 ranks in the Top 35 of players with more than 1,500 PA as Angels but the players he rnanks with who had similar numbers of PA with his numbers, players like Leroy Stanton and Juan Beniquez, Jack Howell and Carney Lansford... they all rank a lot lower than 40 on our Top 100 Angels countdown. So we can extrapolate that Speez earned a 30-50 place bump because of his production for the team when it absolutely mattered most.
Troy Glaus was the MVP of the 2002 World Series and Adam Kennedy was the MVP of that ALCS, but Scott Spiezio was the MVP of the 2002 postseason. And while his Game Six Home Run is the single most important swing in the history of the franchise, he delivered the numbers from the day the team walked into Yankee Stadium as afterthought underdogs until he was leaping in the air after Erstad made the catch.
Spiezio batted .400 with a 1.137 OPS in the four game ALDS against the Yankees. He batted .353 with a 1.068 OPS in the five game ALCS against the Twins. He batted .261 with a .922 OPS in his 30 Plate Appearances in the seven game World Series against the Giants. The most important PA in Angels history, though, was hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Angels down 5-0. Sure it was only Game Six, and sure making a 5-0 game a 5-3 game with eight outs left only mathematically lifted the team's chances to win the elimination game by about ten percent. Sure, the Erstad homer to lead off the eighth and the Glaus double to put them ahead later that inning added more Win Probability to the night's contest and to the series, but the swing by Spiezio off of Felix Rodriguez in release of Riss Ortiz, sitting on the bench holding the game ball Dusty Baker had given him, that home run swing added more to the glory of the Angels franchise than anything in its history up to that point or since. And that is why Scott Spiezio, a lovable league average infielder is more than a Top 100 Angels, he a Top 40 Angel.