CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Baseball ProGUESTus: S... (12/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The BP Broadside: The ... (12/06)
Next Column >>
Premium Article The BP Broadside: Cott... (12/14)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (12/12)

December 9, 2011

The BP Broadside

The Best First Baseman in Angels History

by Steven Goldman

I caught myself about to write this sentence: “Albert Pujols will be the best first baseman in Angels history.” This is a tautological statement, completely unnecessary: with rare exceptions, Pujols is the best first baseman in anybody’s history. In terms of career warp, he is already 31st on the all-time list, with only a couple of first-sackers leading him:
 

NAME

From

To

Seasons

ADJ_WARP

  1. Stan Musial

1941

1963

22

121.1

  1. Lou Gehrig

1923

1939

17

97.2

  1. Jimmie Foxx

1925

1945

20

96.4

  1. Cap Anson

1871

1897

27

93.1

  1. Albert Pujols

2001

2011

11

91.8

  1. Pete Rose

1963

1986

24

84.7

  1. Jeff Bagwell

1991

2005

15

76.6

  1. Frank Thomas

1990

2008

19

72.7

  1. Rod Carew

1967

1985

19

72.2

  1. Johnny Mize

1936

1953

15

71.3


If you don’t consider Musial and Rose first basemen, or want to simply shout, “F—k you, Cap Anson!” as loudly as you can without getting arrested, that’s cool by me. Removing them means, Jim Thome, Dan Brouthers, and Willie McCovey sneak onto the list, all behind the Angelic Albert.

If Pujols hits anything like he has in the past at any time during the course of his contract, he will become not only the best peak-value first baseman in Angels history, but the best hitter, period. While future Hall of Famers such as Carew, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, and Vladimir Guerrero passed through, and a few should-be-ins but aren’t and probably won’t be, such as Bobby Grich and Jim Edmonds, did some wonderful things while in town, there hasn’t been this kind of superman in Angels togs before. One important caveat: that Pujols still has some peak years left to give the Angels.

Tim Salmon was probably the best hitter to have his best years while he was actually playing for the Angels. A non-systematic review of the top ten offensive seasons in Angels history results in this list:
 

NAME

YEAR

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

TAv

BWARP

  1. Doug Decinces

1982

.301

.369

.548

.916

.317

8.7

  1. Darin Erstad

2000

.355

.409

.541

.951

.310

8.4

  1. Troy Glaus

2000

.284

.404

.604

1.008

.322

8.2

  1. Albie Pearson

1963

.304

.402

.398

.800

.331

8.0

  1. Vladimir Guerrero

2004

.337

.391

.598

.989

.330

7.6

  1. Chone Figgins

2009

.298

.395

.393

.789

.292

7.1

  1. Jim Fregosi

1964

.277

.369

.463

.833

.328

7.0

  1. Tim Salmon

1995

.330

.429

.594

1.024

.344

6.8

  1. Brian Downing

1982

.281

.368

.482

.850

.305

6.7

  1. Tim Salmon

1997

.296

.394

.517

.911

.319

6.1


Pujols has a career .342 True Average, so we’re talking a cut above here—Salmon was a career .306, very good, but not of that quality.

As for first basemen, the Angels haven’t had much in the way of truly outstanding performances at the position:
 

NAME

YEAR

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

TAv

BWARP

  1. Rod Carew

1982

.319

.396

.403

.799

.290

4.8

  1. Wally Joyner

1987

.285

.366

.528

.894

.305

4.5

  1. Don Mincher

1967

.273

.367

.487

.854

.322

4.5

  1. Kendrys Morales

2009

.306

.355

.569

.924

.314

3.9

  1. Lee Thomas

1962

.290

.355

.467

.821

.302

3.7

  1. Wally Joyner

1986

.290

.348

.457

.805

.292

3.5

  1. Mark Teixeira

2008

.358

.449

.632

1.081

.383

3.4

  1. Jason Thompson

1980

.317

.439

.526

.965

.330

3.4

  1. Rod Carew

1981

.305

.380

.374

.753

.294

3.4

  1. Wally Joyner

1988

.295

.356

.419

.775

.288

3.3


The list is thin enough that it has room for partial seasons, albeit very good ones, from Carew (strike), Teixeira and Thompson (trades). These are all good years, but only Teixeira’s is of the MVP level associated with the truly great first basemen.

I suppose this is all trivia, but interesting trivia in that it shows how the Angels’ signing of Pujols is a break with club tradition. The club was famous for going after the big names during Gene Autry’s heyday, and we could spend a separate article discussing his many free agent signings and prospects-for-veterans deals. Trades such as—

December 6, 1979: Traded Willie Aikens and Rance Mulliniks to the Kansas City Royals for Al Cowens, Todd Cruz, and Craig Easton.

December 10, 1980: Traded Carney Lansford, Rick Miller, and Mark Clear to the Boston Red Sox for Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson.

May 12, 1982: Traded Tom Brunansky, Mike Walters, and $400,000 to the Minnesota Twins for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong.

—deserve to live in infamy. Yet, despite these moves and others, the Angels not only never rarely pursued the prototypical slugger at first base (Mo Vaughn is perhaps the only exception), they’ve had a difficult time keeping anyone there for very long. Their top 15 players in terms of games at first quickly drops off to players that didn’t even reach two seasons:
 

   

G

1

Wally Joyner

879

2

Rod Carew

718

3

Darin Erstad

581

4

J.T. Snow

487

5

Jim Spencer

474

6

Scott Spiezio

391

7

Casey Kotchman

310

8

Kendrys Morales

284

9

Joe Adcock

273

10

Don Mincher

255

11

Lee Thomas

229

12

Mo Vaughn

219

13

Bob Oliver

216

14

Ron Jackson

211

15

Robb Quinlan

195


So, welcome to a brave new world of herculean first basemen, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. You took a big risk to get there and it might not work, but at least it’s a new vision of what Angels team architecture can look like.  
 

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

Related Content:  Wally Joyner,  Tim Salmon,  Rod Carew

18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

The Beef

What are they gonna do with Morales now?

Dec 09, 2011 13:52 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Depending on his health I'd guess they'll either use him as a DH, or non-tender him. They could trade him but I can't imagine he has much value after missing the last year and a half.

Dec 09, 2011 22:42 PM
rating: 0
 
CRP13

There's a team in Houston that would love to have him.

Dec 10, 2011 06:16 AM
rating: 2
 
sbnirish77
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

MLB to institute HGH testing ...

Dec 09, 2011 14:45 PM
rating: -5
 
BigX

When I was growing up Wally Joyner was my favorite player and I, to this day, have made the argument that at the very least he was the best 1b the Angels ever had. Thanks to Pujos a part of my childhood will now be destroyed right before my eyes.

Dec 09, 2011 20:48 PM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

That's a shockingly negative way to look at it. Are you sure you aren't a Red Sox fan?

Dec 09, 2011 22:43 PM
rating: 1
 
BigX

More of a joke than anything really. I will always love Joyner.

Dec 10, 2011 12:17 PM
rating: 0
 
thejewishkidsk

not enough words to say it but, Pujols has to be in the discussion of, at this point, THE BEST BASEBALL PLAYER TO EVER PLAY THE GAME

Dec 09, 2011 22:46 PM
rating: 1
 
John Carter

Considering that baseball athletes generally get a little bigger, faster, stronger, and more knowledgeable every year, your comment is quite safely true.

Dec 10, 2011 00:51 AM
rating: 0
 
T. Kiefer

And he was a 13th-round draft pick too. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this fact for sure.

Dec 10, 2011 08:01 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Hank Greenberg - how is he not on the opening list? Did he miss too many games during the war years to rate? Surely, firstbase was his primary position.

Dec 10, 2011 00:44 AM
rating: 1
 
BillJohnson

Relatively short career (the war really hurt him), career WARP under 60, no single monstrous season, behind Gehrig in production for most of their joint career. He was a thoroughly deserving HoFer and clearly among the top 20 1B ever, but the list only went ten players deep, and he wasn't top ten at the position.

Dec 10, 2011 07:55 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Hmmm. Idea: Let's have a War adjusted WARP just for fun. What is a reasonable guess as to how Greenberg, DiMaggio, Teddy Ballgame, Willie Mays, and Whitey Ford (etc.) would rank among the greatest, if they hadn't hadn't taken time out to fight for their country?

Dec 10, 2011 11:12 AM
rating: 0
 
BillJohnson

Add Musial to that list; he missed 1945 due to Navy service, although he didn't see combat.

Greenberg lost three whole years (1942-4) and might well have been in the top ten 1B ever, apart from that loss. Williams, of course, missed the most time overall, having served for three years in WWII as well as his more celebrated, but shorter, Korean War service. However, it's kinda hard to move up the rankings from where he is!

Dec 10, 2011 16:17 PM
rating: 0
 
onegameref

Why the hate for Cap Anson? Is it because he played in a different era? What gives?

Dec 10, 2011 12:31 PM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

He was an adamant racist who refused to play when blacks were on an opposing roster.

Dec 10, 2011 14:23 PM
rating: 2
 
thejewishkidsk

I definitely agree with the Greenburg comments and also with the adjusted WARP for the WAR service. Idon't think you will see this current and future generation of athletes EVER serve their country in anyway.....it's a shame. The Greenburghs would be rolling in their graves if they only knew what was going on today lol!!i'm still not sure Musical received the accolades he should have.

Dec 10, 2011 16:40 PM
rating: 0
 
Juris

Hey Steve, I'm surprised you left off the venerable Steve Bilko as a comparison. After all he played for the Cardinals and the Angels, too. Placed first in putouts at 1B in 1953, high range factor, high fielding% -- but also second (second highest) in errors.

True, he didn't hit much for power, with 76 HR's over 10 MLB seasons.

But as someone who grew up in Los Angeles in the 1950's rooting for the Hollywood Stars and LA Angels of the Pacific Coast League, Bilko was THE MAN. He didn't have any power in the majors, but in 1956 he won the PCL's Triple Crown with a .360 batting average, 55 home runs, and 164 RBIs.

Dec 11, 2011 10:46 AM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Baseball ProGUESTus: S... (12/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The BP Broadside: The ... (12/06)
Next Column >>
Premium Article The BP Broadside: Cott... (12/14)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (12/12)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article The Call-Up: Michael Feliz
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: June 1, 2015
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of May 29-31, 201...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Diamondbacks Get Salty
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: OMG Twinsies
Premium Article The Call-Up: Chi Chi Gonzalez
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: June 1, 2015

MORE FROM DECEMBER 9, 2011
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: More Moore in St. Pete
Transaction Analysis: Wrapping Up the Winter...
Premium Article Prospectus Perspective: A Fresh Start for th...
Premium Article Winter Meetings Update
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Rounding Up the Usual Sus...
Premium Article Fantasy Beat: Early ADP Movers
Premium Article The Keeper Reaper: First, Third, and DH for ...

MORE BY STEVEN GOLDMAN
2011-12-24 - From the Editor's Desk: We Like the Holidays...
2011-12-20 - The BP Broadside: Jersey Scrooge to Darvish:...
2011-12-14 - Premium Article The BP Broadside: Cottleston Pirates
2011-12-09 - The BP Broadside: The Best First Baseman in ...
2011-12-07 - BP Unfiltered: Winter Meetings Dispatch: The...
2011-12-07 - BP Unfiltered: Winter Meetings Dispatch: It'...
2011-12-06 - Premium Article The BP Broadside: The Singular Love of Manny...
More...

MORE THE BP BROADSIDE
2011-12-27 - Premium Article The BP Broadside: The Rudy Pemberton Project...
2011-12-20 - The BP Broadside: Jersey Scrooge to Darvish:...
2011-12-14 - Premium Article The BP Broadside: Cottleston Pirates
2011-12-09 - The BP Broadside: The Best First Baseman in ...
2011-12-06 - Premium Article The BP Broadside: The Singular Love of Manny...
2011-11-30 - The BP Broadside: Bobby No Valentine for Pit...
2011-11-11 - Premium Article The BP Broadside: The Ramos and Rhem Kidnapp...
More...