First of all, I want to give a shoutout to Los Angeles Angels legend Darin Erstad. Erstad began his 14-year career as an Angel and spent 11 of his 14 seasons with the club. He was a two-time all-star and a two-time Gold Glove award winner. He hit .300 in the 2002 postseason and was hitting second every day as the Halos won the World Series.
With that being said, the best player to wear number 17 in Angels history is very clear.
Shohei Ohtani is the best player to wear number 17 in Angels history.
As much as Erstad deserves to be recognized for everything he did as an Angel, Shohei Ohtani is the only answer to this question. He is, without a doubt, the best player to wear number 17.
Ohtani's hitting has always been there since the Angels signed him but the pitching just took a massive step forward in 2021 and solidified him as the best player in the game.
If I told you Ohtani won the MVP award in 2021 after he hit 46 home runs with a .965 OPS and a 157 OPS+ you would've believed me. If I told you he did that while also posting a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts while striking out 10.8 batters per nine with a 141 ERA+ you would've said I was crazy. Well, that's exactly what happened.
I think Ohtani was even better this past season as he had a 145 OPS+ but was a legitimate Cy Young candidate. He posted a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts while striking out a league-leading 11.9 batters per nine. Had Aaron Judge not hit 62 home runs Ohtani wins his second consecutive MVP award unanimously. He was worth 9.4 fWAR this past season which is far better than the (still absurd) 8.0 fWAR in 2021.
Ohtani would be seen as a superstar if he only hit or only pitched. The fact that he's this good while doing both at the same time is something I still can't quite wrap my head around and don't know if I ever will. Nobody has ever done this!
Ohtani ranks third in OPS and already ranks 13th in home runs despite only playing in two fully complete seasons. He dealt with injuries his first two seasons and then had the shortened season in 2020.
Ohtani also ranks 27th in strikeouts and 20th in bWAR among pitchers in Angels history despite only starting for two full seasons. Again, absurd.
I hope the Angels can find a way to keep Ohtani long term and have number 17 retired one day. Regardless, it'll be fun to watch this guy play in 2023.