Angels Best 1st Round Draft Picks – The Hitters
Here is where we get to the meat of the Angels’ drafting prowess. Of the six players drafted by Anaheim in the first round that have put up more than 20 bWAR in their career, four of them are hitters and three of those four are outfielders. Of course, we spotlighted one of those already, as he made most of his noise playing for other teams.
So what other successes have the Angels seen with drafting position players in the first round? We obviously all know of one, but a few others played big parts in the success of the franchise over the years, including two that were big pieces of the team’s only World Series title.
Honorable Mention – Dick Schofield – 1981 (3rd Overall)
Of the four names on this page, Dick Schofield was the one I struggled with the most. It wasn’t that Schofield didn’t have his value, he was worth 18.8 bWAR over the course of his career. However, I struggled because the 3rd overall pick came across his value in an unconventional way compared to the others.
Schofield spent 12 of his 14 seasons with the Angels. However, most of his value was derived from his glove, where he had a career DEF of 109.3. That helped to offset some below-average hitting that saw him slash .230/.308/.316 with a wOBA of .287 and a wRC+ of 76. Still, in an era where glove-first shortstops were the norm, Schofield was valuable to the Angels.
Darin Erstad – 1995 (1st Overall)
While the Angels swung and missed on their initial shot with the first overall pick (Danny Goodwin, 1975), they didn’t make the same mistake again when they got a second chance in 1995. Darin Erstad was originally selected by the Mets in the 13th round of the 1992 MLB Draft but opted to go to the University of Nebraska instead. The Angels rewarded him by making him the first overall pick three years later.
Erstad would spend his first 11 years at the big league level in Anaheim, hitting .286/.341/.407 with 114 home runs and 625 RBI. He was ultimately worth 32.3 bWAR during his 14-year career. Of course, his biggest contribution was as a member of the 2002 World Series-winning Angels when he hit .352 with a pair of home runs, seven RBI, and 14 runs scored during the 2002 postseason.
Troy Glaus – 1997 (3rd Overall)
Picked two years after Erstad, Troy Glaus made his own name in an Angels uniform. The 3rd overall pick in 1997, Glaus was the 2002 World Series MVP after hitting .385/.467/.846 with three home runs, eight RBI, and collected 22 total bases in the fall classic.
Of course, Glaus was more than just a World Series performer. In 13 seasons, he hit .254/.358/.489 with 320 home runs and 950 RBI, worthy a 38.1 bWAR. After the 2004 season, Glaus would depart via free agency, playing his final years between the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Braves.
Mike Trout – 2009 (25th Overall)
And without further ado, we finally come to the name we were all expecting. There is perhaps no greater draft pick in Angels’ history that Mike Trout, regardless of what round you look at. The fact that he fell to the Halos with the 25th overall pick has brought a plague onto all of those teams that passed on him first.
In just nine short seasons, Trout already ranks in the top-five of nearly every offensive category in for the Angels. Of players with over 100 at-bats for the team, Trout outpaces them all in wRC+, with Jim Fregosi trailing 172 to 116 in second place. Of course, the only real knock on Trout is the lack of team success during his tenure, with only the one playoff appearance in 2014. However, with 11 seasons remaining on his contract, there will be time for him to enjoy postseason success AND add to his 72.8 bWAR.
"Angels: How much better is Mike Trout than the rest of his draft class?"
Will the Angels add to this success with the 2020 MLB Draft? We’ll see on Wednesday evening.