The 2018 Angel team looks like it is going to be something special defensively. Every position on the field will be manned by someone who is an above average to excellent defender (except of course for the pitcher and first base spot when Valbuena is playing). It is highly possible that even the guys off of the bench (Graterol, Perez, Cowart, EYJ?) will be good defenders.
Having this staggering number of quality defenders slated to play for the Halos next year made me think that they are going to have an excellent shot at being the best defensive team the Angels have ever had. It made me wonder which Angel team they would be dethroning, if in fact they were able to live up to these lofty expectations, so I went over to Baseball-Reference and decided to look at Team Defensive WAR to see who had the highest score.
Here are the top five:
5. The 1999 Anaheim Angels, 6.2 dWAR:
This team was led by Darin Erstad (2.2 dWAR), Randy Velarde (1.5 dWAR), and Gary DiSarcina (1.0 dWAR).
4. The 2000 Anaheim Angels, 6.5 dWAR:
3. The 1986 California Angels, 6.6 dWAR:
This team was led by Bob Boone (2.6), Gary Pettis (2.4), Dick Schofield (2.0), and Rob Wilfong (1.3).
2. The 2009 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 7.0 dWAR:
1. The 2002 Anaheim Angels, 9.3 dWAR:
The 2002 Angel defense was recognized by the Gold Glove Award voters that year who bestowed the honor upon Darin Erstad for his stellar work in center field and upon Bengie Molina for his outstanding performance at catcher.
As a defensive team, the 2002 Angels have an impressive list of bullet points:
- They led the American League in fewest runs allowed per game, with 3.98.
- They led the league in defensive efficiency, a stat that keeps track of the percentage of balls in play converted to outs, with .718.
- They led the league in putouts, with 4357.
- They finished second in the league in the fewest number of errors committed, with 87.
- And they finished second in the league in fielding percentage, with .986.
It is going to be a lot of fun watching the 2018 Angels catch and throw the ball, and it will be exciting to see how they stack up next to the defensive excellence established by the World Champion team of 2002.