On this date in 1971 the LA Angels made one of their best trades ever

Sep 29, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Former Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan throws out the first pitch
Sep 29, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Former Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan throws out the first pitch / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

On this date, 50 years ago, the LA (then California) Angels got away with highway robbery.

They traded Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. Just like how the Halos plundered the Mets for pitching this offseason, the Angels FLEECED New York for one of the greatest pitchers ever 50 years ago.

Ryan went on to have the best stretch of his career with California. He had the most wins (138) with the Halos than he had with any other team (despite playing one more year with the Houston Astros), as well as the best ERA (3.07), and the most strikeouts (2,416). That's 550 more strikeouts than he had with the Astros, which was the second-closest team.

Ryan clearly loved being an Angel, and had the most success out of any of the four teams he played on in Cali. Five of his eight All-Star selections were with our team.

Nolan Ryan reached elite status as soon as he headed to the LA Angels.

Nolan Ryan was a decent pitcher for the New York Mets, but he became one of the greatest to ever live as soon as he touched down in California and joined the Angels.

With New York, he posted a solid 3.58 ERA and a solid 8.7 K/9 rate. He never appeared in 30 or more games, however, and surrendered 6.1 BB/9 innings. He posted an uninspiring 1.398 WHIP.

As soon as he became an Angel, he turned into a monster. He was an All-Star his first year with the team, and never looked back. He had two 20+ win seasons in his career, and both were with the Halos (21 and 22 wins in 1973 and 1974, respectively).

The opposite is true of Fregosi. Fregosi was a great player for the Angels, and a terrible one on the Mets. From 1964 to 1970, he made six All-Star games and five in a row from 1966 to 1970--all six with the Halos.

In 1971, however, he really struggled. He hit .233/.317/.326 (.643 OPS) with just five home runs, 33 RBI, and 31 runs. The Angels knew this move had to be made.

They traded him that offseason, and the rest was history. Ryan embarked on the greatest years of his Hall Of Fame career, while Fregosi hit .233/.319/.328 (.646 OPS) with five home runs, 43 RBI, and 38 R in 146 games before he was traded away again in 1973.

Next. 4 major whiffs from Arte before MLB lockout. dark

The Angels' offseason is stalled a bit right now due to the MLB lockout, but it's worth looking back at the right moves that we've made in the past. Perhaps we can pull off another elite trade for another big-time starting pitcher. It is, at this point, what we need the most.