The catcher position is one that players don't often rack up a ton of WAR (wins above replacement) for a couple of reasons. First, they don't play every single day. Even the great ones have a day off once a week or so. Second, most don't both hit and defend. Finding the rare catcher that hits and defends is something this Los Angeles Angels franchise hopes it has done with Logan O'Hoppe.
Some of the best players in Angels history are catchers. Bob Boone wasn't the best hitter but boy, was he a wizard behind the dish. Bengie Molina had a great glove too and his postseason run in 2002 is one fans will always cherish. Even Mike Napoli in his short stint had some huge power years behind the dish even if his glove lacked.
Boone and Molina are undoubtedly the two best catchers overall in Angels history, but when using the WAR statistic to find the best catcher in a single-season, Brian Downing is the guy.
The best LA Angels WAR season from a first baseman belongs to Brian Downing in 1979
Brian Downing's run as a regular catcher for the Angels lasted just two seasons. He was a primary catcher for the team in 1978 and 1979. The '79 season is one for the record books in Angels history as it was the best season when using bWAR, that an Angels catcher has ever had. Downing was worth 5.6 bWAR that season for the California Angels.
The biggest reason Downing was able to accumulate such a high WAR was mostly because of his bat. He slashed .326/.418/.462 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI in 148 games. Just a monster year offensively. He was an all-star and finished 14th in the AL MVP balloting.
His .326 average is tied for ninth in Angels history for a single season. His .418 OBP is also tied for ninth in Angels history. Downing being an on-base machine as a catcher was extremely valuable.
For some reason he spent most of the season hitting sixth, but if he played in the modern day he'd be right at the top alongside Rod Carew. Can you imagine Carew and Downing at the top of the order followed by the big power bats of Bobby Grich, Don Baylor, Dan Ford, and Willie Aikens? I have no idea how you pitch to that lineup.
Downing was never a great defender, and he had a 0.0 dWAR for that 1979 season in the 129 games he caught. In fact, he's known more for playing other positions, mainly left field and DH, as an Angel. His bat carried him to the best season an Angels catcher has ever had, at least in terms of WAR.