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No. 83: Greatest Angels of All-Time: Leon Wagner

A great three-year stretch

Leon Wagner

Time with Angels: 1961-1963

Stats: .279/.342/.490/.831, 91 HR, 276 RBI, 451 H, 243 R, 124 OPS+

Baseball Reference WAR: 6.4

FanGraphs WAR: 6.7

Combined WAR: 6.55


Leon Wagner spent three seasons of his 12-year career with the Angels. While with the team, he was quite productive. He hit about .280 while averaging 30 home runs and 90 RBI a season. Additionally, he was almost an MVP winner.

Wagner missed 30 games during his first season with the Angels, but still had a great season. He hit .280 with an OPS of .865, while hitting 28 homers and driving in 79 runs. His bat really heated up for the final month of the season. In September, Wagner hit .356 with an OPS of 1.120. He started only 20 games, but he still hit seven homers and drove in 23 runs.

The next season was Wagner’s best with the Angels, and maybe the best of his career. He was an All-Star and finished fourth in MVP voting in the American League. Wagner had career-highs in home runs (37), RBI (107), hits (164), runs (96), doubles (21) and triples (5).

His season got off to an extremely hot start. Through his first 73 games, Wagner was hitting .297/.363/.584/.946. He had 21 homers and 57 RBI, a 162-game pace of about 45-50 homers and 130 RBI. He cooled down in the second half tremendously, but during the first three months of the season Wagner was arguably the hottest hitter in the American League.

Hitting wise, Wagner saved the best for last, as he hit .291 during his final season with the Angels. He had 160 hits in 149 games, while hitting 26 homers and driving in 90 runs. His OPS+ of 131 was the highest it’d ever be with the Angels. Wagner was an All-Star yet again and finished 19th in MVP voting.

For the second season in a row, Wagner had a really strong first-half, even better than the year prior. From April 10 through June 30, Wagner had an incredible slash of .356/.425/.596/1.022, while hitting 19 homers and driving in 57. Through the first three months of the season, Wagner was the best player in the American League, and maybe even in all of baseball. He really struggled in the second half, which killed his MVP chances.

On December 2, 1963, Wagner was traded to the Cleveland Indians.


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