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The 100 Greatest Angels: #38 Kirk McCaskill

38 - Kirk McCaskill, RH SP

Career Stats

Kirk gets overlooked a bit, so it might be a surprise to see his name among the Top 40. He ranks 31st in Win Shares in franchise history, so this is a sabermetrically-approved choice.

Kirk pitched in Anaheim for 7 full seasons, and was a member of three Angel teams that won more than 90 games. Sadly, only one of those made the playoffs and he was the losing pitcher in two games in the 1986 ALCS, and yet he won 17 games that season. He was a reliable 3rd starter behind Witt and Romanick as well as Witt and Langston, more often than not suffering in the win column behind anemic Angel offenses.

Here are some of Kirk's career rankings as an Angel pitcher:

Wins - 78 - 7th place
Innings Pitched - 1,221 - 8th place
Strikeouts - 714 - 9th place
Games Started - 189 - Tied for 6th with Clyde Wright
Shutouts - 11 - Tied for 8th with Andy Messersmith

In addition to these accomplishments, after winning 17 games in 1986, Kirk was named to People Magazine's list of the 50 Most Beautiful People. In image-conscious Southern California, that counts for a lot, because, y'know, if Bartolo Colon wins 30 this season, still no chance he shows up in that annual issue.

The highest rankings on our Top 40 Ballot for Kirk came from The Chronicler who put McCaskill at 27th all-time, and Matt Welch, who listed him as 33rd best All-Time Angel.

Rob McMillin of the 6-4-2 Southern California Baseball Blog gives us an overview of Canada's gift to Southern California...

Kirk McCaskill started his athletic career as an ice hockey player for the University of Vermont and for the AHL Sherbrooke Jets, but switched full-time to baseball in 1984 after the Angels drafted him in 1982, in the fourth round. With year after year of organizational uncertainty, he represented, for once, the crest of a coming wave of quality players from the farm. Mel Didier, Dodgers special assignment scout, called it "the best crop of young players I've ever seen in an Angels' camp. Five or six of them have a real chance."

He was referring to a group that included Jack Howell, Devon White, Mark McLemore, Craig Gerber, Pat Clements, and McCaskill. Though his rookie year wasn't especially good -- he had five games in which he gave up five or more runs -- he also logged five complete games. His next year -- the Angels' division-winning season of 1986 -- he improved substantially, filling the number three slot in the Angels' rotation ably and finishing the season with a 3.36 ERA.

Unfortunately, he lost two games in the ALCS against Boston that year: Game 2, in which he lost in dribs and drabs, 9-2, to Bruce Hurst; and the heartbreaking Game 6, a 10-4 blowout where he simply couldn't get out of the third inning. He wasn't helped by the fact that it was a day game; the outfield lost a pop fly in the mid-day sun, and McCaskill himself failed to field a routine ground ball, bouncing off his chest.

After that embarrassment, and the team's ultimate exit from the postseason following Game 7, he regrouped, but an elbow problem bit him following an April 20, 1987 game against the A's. A few days later, he had bone chips removed, shutting him down for three months, one reason the 1987 squad finished last in the AL West.

He pitched four more years for the Angels, but by 1991, he had become a little worse than league average. The Angels let him go to free agency that year; he signed with the Chisox, who ultimately made him a reliever following a 4-8, 5.23 ERA season in 1993. That saved his 1994, but he couldn't hold up in the following two seasons, retiring after 1996.