The 5 Best Leftfielders in Los Angeles Angels History
No. 1: Brian Downing
Downing began his career with the White Sox, signing with them as an amateur free agent out of Cypress College in 1969. Downing, originally a catcher, had an unremarkable career with the White Sox before coming to the Angels along with Dave Frost and Chris Knapp in a trade for Bobby Bonds, Thad Bosley, and Richard Dotson in December 1977.
Two years later Downing broke through offensively and made his first and only All-Star team as a catcher in 1979, when he hit .326/.418/.462. A broken ankle forced Downing to make the move to leftfield in 1981, and he became a consistent, steady performer. During his time in leftfield, he averaged .267/.372/.451 with 21 home runs and 75 RBIs. He received MVP votes in 1982 and 1984, and got on base a ton, leading the league with 106 walks in 1987.
One thing many people did not know about Downing is that he was a very good defender. One of the most famous plays had him and center fielder Fred Lynn criss-crossing each other and Downing crashing into the wall while Lynn made the catch. Downing actually had an errorless streak of 244 consecutive games in left field an AL record from May of 1981 to July of 1983.
Downing became a designated hitter full-time in 1988, and would leave the Angels in 1991, signing with the Rangers in free agency. For his Angels career, he was worth 37.8 WAR, sixth in club history, and he was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame in 2009.
Although Anderson and Downing are among the best players in Angels history, there was not a lot to choose from when selecting the five best leftfielders. Left field has historically been a weak position for the Los Angeles Angels, and that is expected to continue this season, with GM Billy Eppler making no real upgrades at the position even though Angel leftfielders combined to hit a majors-worst .216/.275/.317 last year. Hopefully the Angels can soon find a long-term solution that makes their way onto this list.