#35 - ALBIE PEARSON, OF
All five feet five inches of Albie Pearson personified the gritty type of player that makes fans of a team fans for life. It is almost impossible to root against men like Pearson, who appear as innocent and elfin until they are beating your team with everything they have while are your talent and ability are handed back to you in the loss column.
Pearson was the fourth player taken by the Angels in the December, 1960 American League expansion draft. He immediately stuck in the Angels lineup. Having won the rookie of the year with the original AL Senators in 1958, he was drafted from the Orioles. His mediocre few years were over in a hurry.
Leading off for the Angels he was encouraged to draw walks and did he ever - He had three seasons of more than 90 walks and never struck out more than 40 times in a year. His excellent 1962 campaign saw him lead the AL with 115 Runs Scored (8th most in a single season by an Angels player) with 160 hits and 96 BB (8th best in a single season by an Angel) in 718 Plate Appearances. He was an All Star in 1963 and got MVP votes after batting .304 with a .402 On Base Percentage. Consider that the 5.5 WAR he earned that year is tied for twelfth place all time with the Angels by Tory Glaus' monster 2001 season. Glaus had 41 HR that year. Albie had six. Maybe this is the point where advanced stats and grit meet.
His .420 OBP in 1961 still ranks fifth best for single season and his .379 OBP with the team ranks 4th best in club history.
He remains the most difficult Angel to ever strikeout with a 14.7 AB per SO rate - number one in club history.
Pearson will always be one of the most beloved Angels and established a benchmark for giving it one's all that endeared him to the fans. One of only a few players who called Wrigley Field, Chavez Ravine and Anaheim Stadium home, he got his uniform dirty everywhere he went.