clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jim Fregosi - Top 100 Angels #2

The Original Angel

Jim in 1964
Jim in 1964


James Louis Fregosi was signed as an amateur free agent out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in 1960. The Angels selected him in the expansion draft of that year. At age 19, he had a cup of coffee with the team at the tail end of 1961, playing in the final game at old Wrigley Field in South Central LA on October 1, the last day of the season.

He got called up in July of 1962 and never went back to the minors. From 1963 - 70 he missed only 43 games out of 1,296 scheduled in that eight-year span. In that eight year span he received at least one vote for MVP in every season and was named to the AL All Star Squad six times. He was a dominant offensive presence in the depths of the deadball era when shortstop was the scrub position in the lineup given to a good defender who hopefully batted his weight most years. Fregosi was an elite defender and an offensive threat, perhaps the most complete American League player year in and year out of the 1960s.

When you look at his 1963 batting average of .287 you might not be impressed. IN 1963, that was the ninth best batting average in the American League. Advanced stats tell a better story of Fregosi's prowess - in his Angels career his OPS+ was 116 in 5,945 Plate Appearances. The next highest ranking Shortstop with substantial playing time for the team would be Erick Aybar with a career OPS+ of 98 (100 being the baseline for an average player). His 45 Wins Above Replacement is the most for an Angels position player. His 7.9 WAR in 1964 has been surpassed in a single Angels season by only two men: Darin Erstad in 2000 and Mike Trout in 2012 and '13. He has six seasons among the Top 35 best single season WAR marks in club history.

He played eleven seasons with the Angels, two with limited playing time on the minor league shuttle and one limited to a hundred games because of injury. Bit the other eight seasons are distinguished by ALL being great seasons. All eight of his full Angels seasons rank in the top 40 single seasons for Offensive WAR, from his low of 4.4 oWAR in 1963 to his high of 6.4 oWAR in 1970. He ranks third in team history for Defensive Wins Above Replacement and two of his defensive seasons rank in the club's top ten. Considering the era in which he played, his 115 home runs translate into practically three times that many under today's playing conditions.

Jim was one of five Angels to play in the three parks that the team has called home: Wrigley Field, Chavez Ravine and Anaheim Stadium. The others were Dean Chance, Albie Pearson, Buck Rodgers and Tom Satriano.

After an injury-marred 1971 season, Fregosi was famously traded of the Mets for four players, one of whom was Nolan Ryan. While the Top 100 Angels list only considers the person's impact as a player, it must be stated if only for narrative's sake that Jim did come back to the franchise as manager midway though the 1978 season and guided Ryan and the Angels to the team's first ever division championship in 1979.

Fregosi passed away in early 2014 at age 71. He will remain an Angels immortal as long as there is an Angels team.