All-Angels Team: Shortstop [Poll]

By Brian Helberg
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David Eckstein (2001-04)

The Angels claimed David Eckstein off of waivers in 2000 from the Boston Red Sox. Eckstein weaved his way through the minor leagues before finally getting his shot with the Angels in 2001 at the age of 26. Eckstein exploded onto the scene in ‘01, finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting after batting .285, with 4 home runs, 41 RBI’s, and 29 stolen bases. The Angels won the World Series in 2002, and Eckstein was the club’s X-Factor. Eckstein finished 11th in MVP voting in ’02 after batting .293, with 8 home runs, 63 RBI’s, and 21 stolen bases. Eckstein sparked the Angels offence is the ’02 World Series by batting .310, collecting 3 RBI’s and posting a .364 on base percentage over the seven games.

David Eckstein’s time in Anaheim may have been brief, but it was certainly memorable. The University of Florida alum finished his four-year stint in the big A with a .278 batting average, 17 home runs, 170 RBI’s and 82 stolen bases. X-Factor consistently beat league averages for fielding percentage. Eckstein posted a career .978 fielding percentage at short against a league average of .973. Eckstein tallied 13.1 wins above replacement during his four seasons with the Angels.

The odds were against the diminutive shortstop even making the Major Leagues, but because of his work ethic he managed to stick around for 10 seasons in the bigs. David Eckstein personified the ’02 Angels, and is the baseball version of Rudy Ruettiger. Fans love watching players with incredible natural gifts, but it is almost more rewarding to root for athletes who like X-Factor use their grit and guile to create an impact.

Next: Erick Aybar