Let’s take a blast back to the past and remember the 1st Winter after LA Angels owner Arte Moreno took over leadership of our Angels. Moreno wanted to make a big splash & went out & got Vladimir Guerrero & Bartolo Colon from free agency.
At the time both Guerrero and Colon were considered the top hitter and top pitcher in baseball and the LA Angels had never been known for going after these type of players unless they were near the end of their careers (Reggie Jackson, Doug DeCinces, Bob Boone, and Fred Lynn come to mind). The Angels never signed players that were at the top of the market so it created a major buzz in Anaheim.
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Both Guerrero and Colon paid immediate dividends as they help lead the Angels to back-to-back AL West Championships in 2004 and 2005. Guerrero won the Angels second AL MVP Award in 2004 and then Colon won the Cy Young Award in 2005 which was also the second in club history (and still is) some 41 years after Dean Chance won the first Cy Young Award in club history.
While Guerrero went on to have four more productive seasons for the Angels from 2006-2009, helping to lead them to three more AL West titles in 2007-2009, Colon broke down. Injuries took their toll on Colon in his last two seasons with the Angels as he started only 28 games over his final two seasons with the team compared 67 games started in his first two years in Anaheim.
Colon went 39-20 with the Angels in his first two seasons in Anaheim and during his Cy Young season of 2005 Colon went 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA helping lead the Angels to the ALCS however that’s where the problems started. In Game 5 of the Division Series against the Yankees, Colon had to leave the game with an injury.
Colon would not return the rest of the post-season and the Angels would fall in five games to the Chicago White Sox. The injury issues lingered into 2006 where Colon pitched only 10 games going 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA. It was a blessing in disguise as a young pitcher got his first Major League opportunity because of Colon’s injury. The pitcher’s name was Jered Weaver who started out 9-0 hat year and finished 11-2.
In 2007 Colon wasn’t any better going 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA in 18 starts. This was a sharp contrast from his 39-20 with a combined ERA of 4.21 over his first two seasons in Anaheim. Colon’s combined numbers for all four season in Anaheim 46-33 with a 4.66 ERA, probably not Moreno or the Angels had hoped for their investment of 51 million dollars over four years.
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Colon was nonetheless a very popular player while in Anaheim and did give the team two very good years in 2004 and 2005. One interesting side note about Colon is that he was on the mound against the Angels in the first game of the 2002 World Championship season for the Halos and shut them out 6-0.
When Colon left Anaheim he continued only pitching in 19 games over the next three seasons including missing all of the 2010 season with injuries.
In 2011 Colon slowly started to resurrect his career at age 38 with the New York Yankees starting 26 games and going 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA. Colon really shined over the next two seasons pitching for the Oakland A’s going 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 2012.
Colon followed it up with possibly his best season in the majors going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP (both of those were career lows). For his efforts Colon made the AL All-Star team for only the third time in his career.
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Colon continued the defy the laws of nature pitching well for the Mets from 2014-2016 going 44-34 with a 3.90 ERA and again making the All-Star team last season at age 43. He even hit his first career home run in 2016 for the Mets which created quite a stir in hilarity across baseball watching Colon round the bases.
However, after his contract ran out at the end of last season Colon was again looking for a team this winter and the Atlanta Braves ended up being his landing spot for 2017. Unfortunately for Colon it looks like Father Time has finally caught up to him as he is sitting at 2-5 with a 6.96 ERA so with that being said Colon’s days in the majors may be numbered.
Colon has a total of 235 victories in his 20-year career which is not too shabby and his career ERA of 3.98 is pretty decent as well. Colon has a chance to be a Hall of Famer, but it is a small chance. He was one of the best pitchers in his ERA, but his numbers coupled with his longevity don’t bode well for Colon.
However, all that aside Colon has definitely had his moments in the majors and is one of the characters of the game whose personality will be missed when he does decide to hang it up. With his poor performance so far this season Tuesday night when he takes the mound in Anaheim might be the last time you will see him barring a move to the American League next season.
Bartolo Colon we salute you for your years of service here in Anaheim and your interesting and mostly successful career in baseball.