#25 Bengie Molina, C
Is it possible that the Angels recently let go their best Catcher ever? Bengie Molina played a majority of the Catching games for six season as an Angel. His .273 BA is 12th all-time for Angels with more than 2000 Plate Appearances.
Bengie's Runs Created numbers 304 in 2679 Plate Appearances dwarf Bob Boone's (294/3391).
Benjamin Jose Molina was the Starting Catcher on the World Champion 2002 team as well as the 2004 and `05 Division Winners.
While the biggest rap against B-Mo is that he was the slowest human being to ever sign a Major League contract, he made up for it with nice pop in his bat and as an excellent handler of pitchers. While Gold Gloves in `02 and '03 glossed his defensive reputation, he did start to fade a bit in that department, bordering as a liability whenever sinkerballers Kevin Gregg or John Lackey were on the mound. You gotta wonder if he would have ever been allowed to catch Chuck Finley had the two's Angel careers overlapped. While he was involved in what may be the greatest defensive play in Angel history in September of 2004, the play was born out of his inability to block a wicked Frankie-K slider.
In 2000, Mike Scioscia's first season as manager, Bengie was handed the keys to the plate. He was the toughest batter in the American League to strike out that year. In 1999, the Angels had Matt Walbeck, Charlie O'Brien, Sean Decker, Todd Greene and Brent Hemphill joining Bengie for a share of the cathing duties. Bengie's ascendancy resolved this, and in 2000 Molina started 123 games at the dish, Walbeck 38 and Shawn Wooten 1.
In an era of Angel playoff berths, Bengie's bat did plenty of talking against the New York Yankees in the Angel-dominated '05 ALDS when B-Mo batted .444 with a .944 Slugging% until the Bronx Bastards nailed Bengie in the elbow, neutralizing him from the remainder of the postseason, but not before the Angels crushed Jetah 'n his boyz2men.
At age 31, with weight issues challenging his hamstrings and the reputation for moodiness constantly mentioned in the local press with whom he rarely spoke after they harped on his weight), Bengie Molina left the Angels as a free agent after the 2005 season.
In our top 40 Ballotting, Matt Welch and cupie both selected Bengie as all-time Angel #23, while I took it two steps further and placed him at 21. But the Biggest Bengie Booster by far was Brent Carter, exalting Molina at #15 All-Time.