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Joe Saunders - Top 100 Angels #80

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This is the FOURTH Halos Heaven offseason Top Angels list we have compiled. We did a Top 100 Angels list after the 2005 season (LINK) and another one after the 2008 season (LINK) and we published a book after 2010, the fiftieth season of Angels baseball (LINK) of the Top 50 Angels of the first 50 seasons. With analytics being radically more sophisticated, look for this offseason's list to measure advanced metrics and traditional stats balanced with where a player rests in the hearts of every Halo Fan.

Colonel Hokie Joe
Colonel Hokie Joe
Harry How

#80 - JOE SAUNDERS - P

There was a massacre on the campus of Virginia Tech in April of 2007. Thirty two students lost their lives to a crazed gunman. The only active major leaguer who was an alumni of VT was Joe Saunders. He was given permission to wear his college baseball cap in his next start. He gutted through six shutout innings in what would be a vintage Joe Saunders start - no runs allowed, but seven hits and two walks allowed. That was the Joe Saunders that Angels fans came to cheer for in his six seasons with the club.

Saunders ranks second all time in club history with a .628 Winning Percentage, but when you look at his peripherals as starting pitcher, there were many games when he walked two and gave up seven hits that the opponent scored plenty - but Joe was in Anaheim during a particularly offense-oriented set of clubs and he benefited like few other pitchers in team history. His ERA+ over the 692 innings he threw for the Angels was a mere 102. Of the 38 pitchers who threw more than 500 innings, Joe ranks below 30th in many rate categories measuring a pitcher's excellence - Seventh worst HR/9 Rate, bottom third in K/9, fourth worst in hits per 9 IP and the fifth worst ERA.

But even ignoring stats like Wins (he had 54) that are a better measure of team fortune than they are of individual performance, and yet despite all those bad peripherals, Saunders managed to make some good marks in the Halo Record Book:

His ERA+ of 102 ranks in the top 20 among Angels pitchers with more than 500 IP and his 7.2 WAR ranks 27th all time. His fabulous 2008 season amounted for most (4.6) of that WAR, but that was the fabled 100-Win Angels and Joe did his part to set the bar to triple digits. His peripherals indicate that he got lucky while an Angel - the Angels rode that luck to three division titles. He was traded away in July of 2010 but he remains a Top 100 Angel.