Mike Trout is the best player in Los Angeles Angels history, but was he on the best team? The 2002 World Series winners, and vintage AL champs, differ.
The Los Angeles Angels were one of baseball’s first two expansion-era franchises. Founded in 1961, they were also relatively successful, finishing 10 games above .500 in only their second season.
Alas, success was merely a relative thing. testing the patience of long-suffering owner Gene Autry, the franchise didn’t actually play a post-season game until 1979. Even now – six decades after their founding – their franchise-record is a totally mediocre 10 games under .500.
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Autry died in 1998, never having seen his Angels reach the World Series.
By a large measure, the best player in franchise history is their current mega-star, Mike Trout. Since arriving a decade ago, he’s produced 72.8 games of WAR, 20 more than any other player in Angels history.
It is perhaps ironic that the best team in Angels history – and their only World Series champion – was largely a starless one–and a non-champion to boot. The 2002 team won 99 games, only good enough for second place in the AL West. But in the postseason they beat New York in a four-game division series, took out the Twins in five games to win the ALCS, and defeated Barry Bonds and the Giants in a seven-game World Series.
The Angels have had nine other post-season qualifiers, six of them since 2004. The only three of greater vintage were the AL West champions of 1979, 1982 and 1986, all of whom deserve a spot in the eight-team all-franchise bracket.
So does the only Angels team to play a post-season game with Trout, the 2014 club. That leaves three spots to be divided among the five post-season qualifiers from between 2004 and 2009.
Based on the record, the best of those teams are the 100-win 2008 team, the 97-win 2009 team, and the 95-win 2005 club. Since none of the others won a post-season series, there’s no reason to belabor the selection process any further.
The format is identical to previous bracket challenges. Each matchup in the tournament is decided based on seven criteria. You can think of each as a ‘game,’ the winner of four games advancing. The seven criteria are:
- Game 1: Regular season winning percentage.
- Game 2: Post-season winning percentage
- Game 3: Team OPS+
- Game 4: Team ERA+
- Game 5 (if necessary): Team WAR
- Game 6 (if necessary: Fielding percentage above the league average for the season in question.
- Game 7 (if necessary): Hall of Famers or likely future Hall of Famers