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Don Baylor: Angels Acquisition #10

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The tenth-greatest acquisition in Angels history, as voted on by the Halos Heaven Voting Board.

Baylor taking his hacks in his MVP season.
Baylor taking his hacks in his MVP season.
Darryl Norenberg-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, we looked at the tenure of the 11th-greatest ranked Angels acquisition, Reggie Jackson.

Today, we look at the player voted the tenth-greatest Angels acquisition ever, a man responsible for the incarnation of the prototypical designated hitter, and arguably the face of the DH until the debut of Edgar Martinez.

After being traded from Baltimore to Oakland in the deal that sent Reggie Jackson to the Orioles, the 1976 offseason brought forth a 6-year, $1.6 million contract for this player. Gene Autry, after 16 seasons and only having true contending teams twice, decided that throwing money at the problem would possibly fix things THIS time. In came the team's new left fielder and designated hitter, Don Baylor.

DON BAYLOR, OUTFIELDER/DESIGNATED HITTER

.262/.337/.448, 141 HR, 140 2B, 523 RBI, 118 OPS+, 4.9 WAR (0.8 average, 6 seasons)

To see Autry hand down a six-year contract to a seven-year player who'd amassed 79 home runs, and slot him in as the team's power bat, was a little shocking, though not TOO shocking, given the anemic offenses of the early-to-mid-1970s Angels. But when he landed in the Big A, Baylor raked. He averaged 231 total bases per season in an Angels uni, and in his first two seasons displayed himself with decent pop--but it was his 1979 season which made Angels history.

He led baseball with 139 RBI and 120 runs scored, smashed 36 home runs, and totaled 20 more walks than strikeouts, en route to his only All-Star appearance and his AL MVP award--the first ever handed down to an Angel--and not to mention his key role in spurring the Angels to their first-ever AL Western Division title.

His MVP season of 1979 was not an indicator of future success, however. An injury-hampered 1980, in which he hit just 5 home runs, followed by two unimpressive seasons in the strike-shortened 1981 and the Angels second division-winner in 1982, led to his release and flight to the Yankees for three seasons.

When he was on the field, Baylor's dWAR was typically atrocious, averaging -2.0 every season he was an Angel, which somewhat dwarfed his WAR totals. He accrued -11 dWAR as an Angel, compared to 9.7 oWAR.

In voting, Baylor received one third-place vote, one fifth-place vote, one sixth-place vote, three seventh-place votes, and two ninth-place votes, for a total of 35 points.

This goes to the first-ever Angels MVP--despite his defensive shortcomings, truly an historic Angel.