#17 - DEAN CHANCE, P
The Cy Young Award was founded in 1956. Until 1967 baseball's award for its best pitcher was only given to one major league baseball player. IN 1963, 65 and 66 it went to Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers. He had a great 1964 but a man who pitched in the same park as he did won it. This was the case in 1962 when Don Drysdale took the award but the man who won it in '64 played for a different team from a different league.
His name was Dean Chance and he pitched for the Los Angeles Angels. His 1964 season was one of the greatest seasons in Angels history. He accrued 9.3 Wins Above Replacement that year, the only player not named Mike Trout with more than nine Wins Above Replacement in a single season as an Angel. He threw 278 Innings with a 1.006 WHIP and a 1.65 ERA. He won 20 games that year. He started 35 Games that year and tossed 11 shut outs (five of which were 1-0 Angels wins), threw 15 Complete Games and appeared in relief eleven times, garnering four Saves.
Is that enough for some hardware? One Cy Young coming up!
Wilmer Dean Chance was signed as an amateur free agent out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in 1959. In December of 1960 there was an expansion draft of players by the two new expansion teams in the American League. The Washington Senators had vacated Washington DC for Minnesota so a new Senators was formed. The Angels were the other expansion team. With the 48th pick in the expansion draft, the Expansion Senators were the team that selected Chance, but immediately traded him to the Angels for Don Hicks. With that weird entry Chance ended up having a cup of coffee near the end of the first Angels season in 1961. He had made the team and made an impression.
In 1962 he was a dominant force in the mound. Easily the second-best season of his career, he started 24 games and appeared in relief 26 times, striking out 127 batters over 206 innings pitched. Chance's specialty was to rarely surrender the longball while allowing few men on, and making sure most of them squeaked out a single and were left stranded. The 1962 Angels were in first place in July and turning the baseball world upside down. Chance was their leader and would be the Ace of the staff and face of the franchise from 62 thru the trade that sent him to the Twins prior to the 1967 season.
His numbers were the first great mark of the young franchise and after 53 seasons many of them still stand tall. His ERA of 2.83 is the best among pitchers with more than 1,000 innings thrown in an Angels uniform and second best among pitchers with more than 500 IP with a Halo. His 20.5 WAR ranks eighth among Angels pitchers. He ranks tenth all time in Innings Pitched as an Angel with 1,226 and 2/3 IP. His 857 strikeouts are the ninth most by any Angels arm.
He threw 48 complete games and 21 shutouts, both near the top in the Angels record books of Anaheim. He played one season at Wrigley Field and one at Anaheim Stadium, one of a few Halos to play at every yard the team has called home. The pitchers' park of Chavez Ravine may have been the secret sauce of what made Dean so great - his 0.4 HR per 9 IP is the lowest mark in club history.
Since he pitched in the deadball era, the stat of ERA+ might be the best way to analyze him. This is a stat that takes into context the norms throughout baseball in each season and literally grades players on a curve. With 100 being an average player (for that season), we can compare players across different eras with ERA+ and (OPS+ for hitters). The higher above 100 they rank, the better. Jered Weaver is the only Angels pitcher with more than 1,000 IP as a Halo who has a higher ERA+ than Dean Chance. Chance's 122 ERA+ with the team ranks second all time. And that Cy Young could have gone to the beloved Koufax if Chance hadn't been oh so deserving of it, just as he is deserving of the admiration of future generations of Angels fans who may only know him as a punch line to telecaster Mark Gubicza's jokes.
When Dean Chance was on the mound... it was no joke. It was one of the greatest Angels ever.