#1 - TIM SALMON, OF
Tim Salmon is the statistical leader in many offensive categories for the Angels. He had many great single seasons that stand in the team's record books. He was the club's first Rookie of the Year. He once re-signed with the club after missing a whole season at a below-market rate. He has six Offensive WAR seasons among the top 50 best Angels single seasons in that category. He is the all time leader in oWAR with 44.3.
He is one of seven Angels to bat at least .330 in a season. His 1995 single season OPS+ of 165 ranks fifth in club history and is one of seven single season marks to rank in the Angels Top 50 single season OPS+ marks. He has eight On Base Percentage season marks in the top fifty Angels single seasons in that category. Eight Slugging % single season marks in the club's Top 50, too! And to top that he has nine OPS single season marks make the club's Top 50 for OPS (On Base Percentage Plus Slugging Percentage).
But why is he number one? In counting stats he is second in almost every hit category behind teammate Garret Anderson but he is so far ahead of GA on the averaged stats that it is not even close. He wasn't the defender that Fregosi was but hit for way more power and played great for the team for a lot longer. He was a latter-day version of Brian Downing with a smidge more oomph in his numbers. Oh, and playoff success. When it mattered most, when he had finally made the playoffs in his eleventh major league season, he showed up. He hit two home runs in the ALDS against the Yankees and two homers in the World Series, both in Game 2, the first World Series game the team ever won. There would be no sweep. Salmon had set the tone. His tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the eighth inning was a stake in the heart to years of franchise frustration. He got the team to the promised land and helped shoulder the load over the 16 games of October, 2002.
Tim Salmon was and is a class act. He was a clean cut nice guy hero to Southern California. Never a whiff of scandal, nor of suspicion in a suspicious age. In his first eight full seasons, his low point was putting up an OPS+ of 119 in an injury-plagued 98-game 1999 season. he bounced back to deliver an OPS+ of 135 in 2000. A terrible 2001 saw him go below the all-important marker of 100 (representing league average) to an OPS+ of 98. He bounced back yet again and delivered an OPS+ of 133 in 2002, a most important contributor to the most important Angels team ever.
After 523 seasons of Angels baseball only one man has been the leader in so many advanced statistical categories and been a crucial contributor to the team's one ring. Maybe in the future there will be other championships but until there are, no player can lay claim to the breadth of achievement delivered as an Angel as Timothy James Salmon. He stands as the greatest player in franchise history after 53 seasons.
I hope you enjoyed this year's countdown. Since it began, two Halos on this list, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo, were traded. It takes a lot for a player to go up this list. The one thing writing this has reminded me is that passing down the history of the game, of the team, is the role of the adults in a game for children. Remember to take the time to pass the game on to America's next generation, for you will forever be interwoven with their love of this great game. Can you think of a better legacy than you could ever possibly leave?