The Los Angeles Angels began play in the spring of 1961. Like many expansion era teams, they’ve had their ups and downs. They have also had their share of cast-offs, almost-were’s, and outright characters.
The Angels have had a parade of players anchor the keystone, turning double plays with the shortstop. Today, we look at who turned in the best season at the second base position in Angels history.
Most recently for the Los Angeles Angels, second base has been a spot occupied by some guys that just haven’t cut it and Howie Kendrick. Before Howie? Adam Kennedy had some good years at second. There are names you might find familiar – Maicer Izturis, Harold Reynolds, Rex Hudler, and Mark McLemore. However, the best season goes back before any of the aforementioned names (and a host of others.) The measurement used to calculate the best season was detailed in our initial post, Best Catcher and can be found there.
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All of that aside, the best overall season in Los Angeles Angels history belongs to:
Bobby Grich in 1979 – 6 points.
Probably not a surprise to older fans, or those with an appreciation for their Halo History. Grich was already an established all-star when he came to the Angels starting with the 1977 season. A gold glove infielder with a good bat, Grich broke out in 1979. He set career highs in nearly every offensive category for a full season while launching 30 HR and driving in 101 RBI. Grich also managed the increased power numbers while still maintaining similar strikeout numbers from previous years,
Grich was an All-Star for the fourth time in his career during the 1979 season. He also placed in the top 10 for the AL MVP voting for the second time in his career. His 5.9 overall WAR speaks to the value that he brought to the Los Angeles Angels in 1979. While he did not win a gold glove that year (or during his Angels tenure) Grich did play nearly 1300 innings at second base while posting a positive dWAR of 0.5.
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The Los Angeles Angels 1979 season was also their first AL West Division title. During the celebration of that victory, Orange County native and former president, Richard Nixon turned up and got beer poured on him by Grich. You can see for yourself here.
While Howie Kendrick and Adam Kennedy (and his 2002 post season heroics) certainly gave Grich a run for his money, the Los Angeles native and UCLA grad, who finished his underrated career with 10 seasons for the then-California Angels still comes out the clear winner.