Sports fans are often history buffs, and arguing about the most outstanding players is one surefire way to get debate raging. The Los Angeles Angels undoubtedly have a great player with Mike Trout, but who else stands out from the team’s history? There are four of the finest baseball players to play for the Angels in no particular order.
First baseman Albert Pujols was one half of the superstar pairing that was the heart of the Angels team (alongside Mike Trout, see below). After an 11-season stint with the St. Louis Cardinals, he spent nine seasons with the Angels. While his Cardinals era looms, this legendary player’s prolonged time with the Angels is nothing to be dismissed. Pujols’ 2011-12 contract of $252m was proof of the team’s faith in him.
Not many players break through the 1,000 runs mark faster than 1,306 games, which is all it took for Pujols to hit that magic number. He’s also been an All-Star 11 times, mostly during his Cardinals time, and has won the Silver Slugger on half a dozen occasions. Other impressive records hit by Pujols include making 3,000 hits (the 32nd man to do so) and becoming one of only three men with 2,200 RBIs in a career.
Twice a World Series champion (both with the Cardinals), Pujols was considered by ESPN to be the 30th-best player the MLB has ever seen, though much of his glory days were with the Cardinals rather than the Angels.
Nolan Ryan played for the Angels from 1972 to 1979. While he spent more than a quarter of a century in the MLB, many of his best years were with the Angels (his other teams being the New York Mets, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers). This talented pitcher entered the Hall of Fame in 1999 (after retiring in 1993).
Ryan’s pitching arm was consistently strong over his career and regularly exceeded 100mph. During his time with the Angels, he clocked up statistics of a 3.07 ERA, a 1.294 WHIP, and a K-per-9 of 10.0 and made All-Star Games on five occasions. Throughout his career, Ryan made 5,714 career strikeouts, an all-time MLB record, almost a thousand better than second-placed Randy Johnson (4,875). Ryan’s appearance on the ESPN Top 100 List is very much expected, and he was ranked the 42nd best MLB player ever.
A slightly ironic entry on our list is Reggie Jackson. This right fielder played for the Angels from 1982 to 1986, but Jackson is also very much remembered for playing for the team’s rivals, Oakland Athletics. In the five seasons he spent with the Angels, he made three All-Star Games appearances and was the 1982 Silver Slugger.
Outside his Angels’ time, Jackson was named MVP in 1973 and won the Babe Ruth Award in 1977. In addition, he got the Silver Slugger in 1980. While with Oakland Athletics, Jackson helped them win five American League West divisional titles on the bounce and three World Series in a row. Later, with the New York Yankees, he won another two World Series in a row.
Perhaps the least surprising name on this list of Angels legends is center fielder Mike Trout. He smashed through the 1,000 runs barrier and took just 1,325 games to do so, faster than all save a handful of other players (including the previously mentioned Albert Pujols). After an injury-struck 2021, he bounced back in some style in 2022, confounding fears that it might take him a while to get back into the swing of things.
Trout has been a regular with the Angels for a decade and made his first major league appearance with the team in 2011. The accolades and achievements came almost immediately, with Trout winning the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award and coming second in the Most Valuable Player (MVP) race that same year. He was named MVP in 2014, 2016, and 2019 and has won (to date) the Silver Slugger Award an impressive eight times. As if that were not enough, Trout has also been an MLB All-Star on ten occasions.
Unsurprisingly, such a talented player is considered one of the greatest MLB players of all time, ranked 15th on the list compiled by ESPN. In 2019, Trout signed a contract worth an eye-watering $426m. Sadly, in July 2022, he was diagnosed with costovertebral dysfunction, which may affect his career.
The Angels have enjoyed their share of historic players over the years, covering the current era and decades past. Let’s all hope that Trout can continue playing for many years following his diagnosis.
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