Every Day Is The FIFTH of July! - Stephen Dunn
Counting Down to Opening Day, We Are Counting Down The 100 Walk Off Homers in Angels History. #11 was hit by a man during one of the great Angels offensive seasons ever, despite it being the height of the deadball era.
Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 11 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #11, a blast by a man in the middle of one of the great Angels offensive seasons.
George Brunet took the mound for the Halos and Jim Lonborg started for Boston. Leading 2-1 in the top of the ninth inning, Brunet gave up a two-run homer to George Thomas. Reggie Smith fouled out to end the inning but the Angels would need to do something in a hurry now down 3-2 after having never trailed in the game.
Reliever Jose Santiago came back out for the ninth after having pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning but Jim Fregosi lead off with a single. Dick Williams stuck with him to face Don Mincher, 0 for 2 with a HBP in the game. Mincher hit a come from behind two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the game. Final Score: Angels 4, Red Sox 3.
Don Mincher was one of three players the Angels got from the Twins in exchange for pitcher Dean Chance after the 1966 season. His 1967 season, at the height of the deadball era, is still in the Angels record books. He batted .273 with 25 HRs and an .854 OPS... but the value of advanced stats is that they contextualize the era he played in.
In the context of advanced stats, Mincher's 1967 shines bright. His adjusted OPS+ of 156 that season ranks sixth in franchise history. For comparisons, Vladimir Guerrero had an OPS+ of 157 in his MVP campaign of 2004. 25 home runs in 1967 measures up like 39 homeruns in the roid era. Mincher is one of three Angels from the 1960s whose single season WAR still ranks in the top 30 in team history - his 4.3 WAR in 1967 ranks thirtieth, the other two being Jim Fregosi and Albie Pearson.
The Angels left Mincher unprotected in the 1969 expansion draft and he was selected by the Seattle Pilots. The team moved to Milwaukee but he was traded by the Brewers before they ever played a game. He ended up playing on thr World Series champion 1972 Oakland Athletics and got an RBI single in his only World Series at bat - which turned out to the final plate appearance of his professional career.