Yesterday, we looked at the 12th-greatest acquisition in team history, profiling the times of 1964 Cy Young winner Dean Chance.
Today, however, we look at the 11th-greatest acquisition, and it's a bit of a mind-boggler.
After a strike-shortened 1981 season, in which he posted down numbers from what the Bronx officials were used to seeing, this player was handed an unceremonious release, which was surprising given what he'd done for the team. Not long after this, Gene Autry, desperate to field a champion, snatched the free agent up on a five-year contract, hoping to reel some fans back in and prove that the Angels were capable of the 1979 magic they'd put up, and knowing that a big name would do just that, as it did in the past with names like Joe Rudi and Bobby Grich. Hoping this would be a move healthy going forward--and later admitted by George Steinbrenner himself to be "the worst decision in [his[ tenure as owner," we look at the Angels' signing of Reggie Jackson.
REGGIE JACKSON, OUTFIELDER/DESIGNATED HITTER
.239/.343/.440, 123 HR, 374 RBI, 362 BB, 2.3 WAR (0.5 average, 5 seasons)
Despite a Hall of Fame career, Jackson actually put up some of his worst career numbers as an Angel, becoming something of a boon to a pitcher's counting stats in his five years here. Although Jackson did have ONE good season in a Halos uniform--his first one, in 1982, where he posted a slash line of .275/.375/.532, and led baseball with 39 home runs, placing sixth in AL MVP voting. The season AFTER that, however, was not only the worst season of Jackson's career, but arguably the worst season by an Angels hitter, going .194/.290/.340, and SOMEHOW still bagging an All-Star appearance, across 116 games. Across his final three Halo seasons, Jackson did not accrue a batting average higher than .252, and did not top 27 home runs. His on-base percentages, thankfully, went up each year from that horrid 1983, posting an even .300 in 1984, .360 in 1985, and .379 in his contract year of 1986, when he seemed to finally learn that walks are okay.
His reputation as "Mr. October," however, seemed to stay in New York. As an Angel in the playoffs, Jackson hit .159 (7-for-44) with 1 home run and 14 strikeouts.
Jackson would come back almost two decades later, grouped with Jackie Autry and Jimmy Nederlander, in an attempt to buy the Angels from Disney, only to be outbid by advertising entrepreneur Arturo Moreno by over $50 million. You can bet Jackson's first move as owner would've been to retire his #44 and sell Reggie! bars at every concession stand.
In voting, Jackson received one third-place vote, one fourth-place vote, two fifth-place votes, one ninth-place vote, and three tenth-place votes, for a total of 32 points.
His signing boosted fan morale--I mean, Mr. October was coming to town and he did hit his 500th home run here--and restored media appeal to the Angels once again after the baseball world had decided their 1979 season was an anomaly. His individual numbers weren't great, but it was certainly an adventure, having Mr. Anytime-But-October in the lineup.