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Rod Carew - Top 100 Angels #26

A superstar arrived in town...

Stephen Dunn

#26 - ROD CAREW, 1B

There was a huge buzz surrounding the trade of Rod Carew to the Angels in February of 1979. It was known all around that the superstar infielder had had enough with Calvin Griffith, the racist owner of the Minnesota Twins. Buzzie Bavasi bit and traded four players to the Twins for a former Rookie of the Year and AL MVP.

The emphasis is on "former" as Carew was 33 when he arrived in Anaheim. Despite his age he had a decent 1979 campaign with an .810 OPS and a 125 OPS+, with 3.1 Offensive Wins Above Replacement. The Angels won their first ever division title and plenty of credit went to the Carew acquisition. His best season as an Angel was 1982 - he delivered 4.7 WAR to another division title. The Angels re-signed him after the 1983 season and he played mediocre ball for two years before retiring (his final game came four days after turning 40 years old), but in the process he padded his career numbers, most importantly his 3,000th hit. His last season, 1985, was the only year of his career that he did not make the All Star Game.

Despite being known as a batting average dinosaur, Rod Carew is actually second on the All Time batting average list with his .314 average as an Angel. Vlad Guerrero's .319 reigns supreme (interestingly enough, Vladdy and Carew are within 36 Plate Appearances of each other on the all time list, so a great measure of value). Carew does however hold the all time record among Angels players for On Base Percentage with a .393 OBP.

Carew was a superstar and it meant a lot to the Angels and their fans that he was on the team. A list of statistically great Angels might not rank him as high as #26 but in gauging "All Time Angels", what the player meant to the club has to be taken into account. Carew gave the Angels an immediate national legitimacy. This translated into ticket sales, sure, but it also meant more "Games of the Week" (back in an era when those were often the only telecasts of the team one could watch) and giving ownership confidence to acquire other superstars. Fred Lynn and Reggie Jackson would follow, each boosting the national profile of the Angels. Rod Carew contributed a lot on the field in his seven season as an Angel and he also contributed tons simply by putting on the uniform.