In our first installation into the LA Angels All-Decade team for the 2010’s, we start with the man who controls the game: the catcher. This pick might not be everyone’s, but for me it makes too much sense.
When the LA Angels signed Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson back-to-back prior to the 2012 season, Halo fans were reasonably hyped for those two names to be donning the red and white. However, Chris Iannetta was apart of that free agency class too, and while he didn’t have the star power, he provided plenty of production for the Angels throughout his four years in Anaheim.
From 2012-2015, Iannetta appeared in just under 400 games for the Angels. While he wasn’t a huge threat offensively, his OPS+ put him as a slightly above-average hitter among catcher during those years. At a 105 OPS+, his offense was definitely good enough to have him as the team’s starting catcher.
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Where Iannetta really shined was on defense. Whether it was receiving pitches, blocking pitches, or throwing out baserunners, Iannetta could be counted on to truthfully anchor a defensive unit. One of my favorite memories from those Angels team’s was watching Iannetta work his way throughout a baseball game. He always seemed calm, cool, and collected behind the plate.
A lot of fans would point towards Martin Maldonado to be the choice as the All-Decade catcher. Here is where I disagreed with that. Maldonado played slightly over half of the amount of games that Iannetta did. Maldonado was also drastically worse than Iannetta, as he posted an OPS+ of just 73 during his time with the Angels.
The final, deciding factor for Chris Iannetta was that he was a key part of the Angels 2014 roster that was the best team in baseball during the regular season. Iannetta had his best career season at the plate in 2014 as well, slashing .252/.373/.392 in 108 games for the Halos. That 2014 team was easily the best of this decade for the Angels (despite the playoff disappointment), and Iannetta’s legacy gets a boost for being a big part of that season.
The Angels aren’t a team that had a Yadier Molina, Salvador Perez, or Buster Posey this decade. They constantly had new faces in and out of the starting catcher spot. Iannetta was the only plaer able to hold down the job for multiple full seasons. And for that, and his role in the 2014 season, Chris Iannetta is the LA Angels All-Decade catcher.