#6 - BOBBY GRICH, 2B
The Angels have had some storied, high-profile free agent signings in their history. But few veteran players acquired that way have panned out for the club as well as the day that Gene Autry wooed Bobby Grich to Anaheim. Dollar for dollar, no free agent signing ever gave Mister Autry a return on his dollar like Robert Anthony Grich did.
Bobby Grich was 28 years old when took the filed as an Angel for the first time. He already had three All Star nods, four gold gloves and had garnered MVP votes in three separate seasons. He immediately looked like a bust when he could only play in 52 games in the 1977 season. The injuries lingered to produce a .251 Batting Average and OPS+ of 98 in a full season in 1978 - definitely not free agent superstar results.
But then something switched on and Bobby Grich had a superstar season. He hit .294 with 30 home runs and 30 doubles, had a .365 On Base Percentage. Don Baylor had thirteen more hits and 38 more RBI and won the league MVP. They both had an OPS+ of 145 and took the Angels to their first Division Championship. Bobby's 5.9 Offensive Wins Above Replacement that season ranks tenth all time in franchise history for a single season. Baylor got the league MVP award with 3.7 WAR, not even ranking in the club's Top 50 any more. Grich would accrue 35 WAR as an Angel, fourth most ever by a Halo.
Grich would accrue eye-popping numbers in 100 games of the strike-shortened 1981 season, leading the AL in home runs (22), Slugging Percentage (.543), and OPS+ (165) - and although he was not able to ever to do that over a full season, that wasn't too far off the mark of what he would mean to the team - his year-in-year-out accomplishments on the field in the first half of the 1980s were dominating. In ten seasons as an Angel he had an On Base % of .370 (sixth best by an Angel), an On Base Plus Slugging Percentage of .806 (eleventh best) and an OPS+ of 124 (tied for fifth best by an Angel with Leon Wagner), He is one of six Angels with more than 4,500 Plate Appearances. His 154 Home Runs are the seventh most by an Angel and his 630 walks are the third most ever in club history.
And he did all this while playing the defensively-demanding position of 2B with aplomb. He grew up watching his boyhood idol Bobby Knoop playing at the keystone and then he surpassed the master. While not the defensive god that Knoop was, Grich was a far more well-rounded player overall and his legacy as one of the greatest Angels ever is set in stone in this club's history. Grich was crucial to winning the division in 1979 and 82 and finished his career putting in 98 games to help grab the West in 1986 for the Halos. He retired after that but remains visible at the stadium, a touchstone to the California Angels. Almost thirty years has passed since he left the game and their have been few players to deliver his everyday greatness to the Angels. No player in sports has delivered such a perfect, iconic mustache to the fans since.