The best Angels WAR season by a shortstop in franchise history

Los Angeles Angels v Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels v Colorado Rockies / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

Jim Fregosi was the first true face of the Los Angeles Angels franchise. He made his MLB debut during the first season in franchise history, 1961, but didn't really prove himself until a couple of years later. Fregosi broke out in 1963 and even received some back-half AL MVP votes. He'd wind up playing 11 years with the franchise, so it's no surprise to see him finish with the best WAR in a single season for an Angels shortstop.

The surprise is that Fregosi isn't the only one with that record. Andrelton Simmons matched him with the exact same WAR as a primary shortstop for the Angels. Simmons isn't nearly the legend Fregosi is, but he had some underappreciated seasons as an Angel including that one where he racked up a ton of WAR.

The best LA Angels WAR season from a shortstop belongs to Jim Fregosi (1964) and Andrelton Simmons (2017)

With Fregosi being as big of a star as he was, it comes as no surprise to see him put up the highest WAR in a single season for an Angels shortstop. In the 1964 season he slashed .277/.369/.463 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI. He set career bests (in a full season) with his .833 OPS and 141 OPS+. He was an all-star and finished 13th in the AL MVP balloting.

The Angels acquired Simmons in the 2015 offseason in the deal that sent another one of this franchise's best shortstops, Erick Aybar, to Atlanta. Simmons came to Anaheim with a very clear reputation. He was all glove, and very little bat. He was one of the best defenders in the sport but contributed very little offensively.

While that was the case for most of his Angels tenure, Simmons turned in one of his best offensive years in 2017. He slashed .278/.331/.421 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI. Simmons tacked on 19 stolen bases in 25 tries, and shattered a career best with 38 doubles.

For his performance, Simmons finished eighth in the AL MVP balloting and wound up winning the third Gold Glove of his career (first with the Angels). He was one of the best defenders in all of baseball that year, racking up a league-leading 5.1 dWAR. It was, by the dWAR metric, his best defensive season in a career full of many of them.

While Simmons earned his 7.9 bWAR primarily with his glove, Fregosi was an offense first shortstop. He racked up a very solid 2.5 dWAR, but his bat is what shined. Simmons was barely above average as a hitter but was just otherworldly defensively.

This comes to show that you can find value at shortstop in a couple of different ways. For now, it looks like the Angels have a shortstop in Zach Neto who can both hit and defend at a high level. Let's hope it stays that way.