MLB Top 5: Los Angeles Angels Corner Infielders and DHs

This is the second article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Los Angeles Angels. In this installment are first and third basemen and designated hitters.

The Los Angeles Angels have featured many talented players throughout the years, including a few who are members of the current team. Among the franchise’s top corner infielders and designated hitters are a Hall of Famer, another who will make a home in Cooperstown in a few years, multiple stars from the team’s only World Series victory, and a current star who has made a name for himself by performing double duty.

The Best First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters in Los Angeles Angels History

First Basemen

Honorable Mentions – Jim Spencer won three fielding titles and a gold glove during his six-year stint with the Angels (1968-73). He had 440 hits, 43 home runs and 188 RBIs in 537 games with California but was traded to Texas early in the 1973 season, during which he was selected to his only All-Star Game. Spencer won a title as a reserve with the 1978 Yankees.

J.T. Snow won six gold gloves in his career, including two during his four-year stint with the Angels (1993-96). His best season offensively was 1995, when he had 24 home runs and 102 runs batted in and set career highs with a .289 average and 157 hits. Snow had 455 hits, 65 homers and 256 RBIs in 488 games with California. He was in the opposing dugout when the Angels won their only title in 2002 and posted six runs, 11 hits and four RBIs for the Giants.

Mark Trumbo began his career with a four-year stint in Los Angeles (2010-13). He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2011 and posted three seasons with at least 25 home runs and 85 RBIs. The best of them was 2012, when he earned an All-Star selection after batting .268 with 34 homers and 100 runs batted in. Trumbo was a decent defender and led the American League in putouts and double plays by a first baseman in 2011. He totaled 429 hits, 95 home runs and 284 RBIs in 460 games. He went on to post an All-Star and silver slugger season in 2016 after hitting a league-leading 47 home runs with the Orioles.

Jared Walsh is a current Angels starter whose 2023 season was curtailed due to “neurological symptoms” that included insomnia and severe headaches and was eventually diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome. His best season was 2021 when he earned his only All-Star selection to date after hitting .277 and setting career highs with 70 runs, 147 hits, 34 doubles, 29 home runs and 98 runs batted in. Walsh has 296 hits, 58 homers and 184 RBIs in 364 career games.

5. Scott Spiezio – He played four years with the Angels (2000-03), batting .268 with 253 runs, 474 hits, 110 doubles, 58 home runs and 268 RBIs in 573 games. The son of former big-league third baseman Ed Spiezio appeared in 16 games during the 2002 playoffs and amassed 10 runs, 18 hits, three home runs and 19 runs batted in, including eight in the World Series. He also won a title with the Cardinals in 2006.

4. Wally Joyner – He spent seven years with the Angels (1986-91 and 01) and put together a stellar first season. Joyner hit .290 with 22 home runs and 100 runs batted in while earning his only All-Star selection, finishing as the Rookie of the Year runner-up and eighth in the MVP voting and tied for the top spot at the All-Star Home Run Derby. He followed that up by setting career highs with 100 runs, 34 homers and 117 RBIs in 1987.

“Wally World” batted .286 with 469 runs, 961 hits, 175 doubles, 117 home runs and 532 RBIs in 899 games. He also led the league in putouts three times and assists and fielding percentage once each. Joyner batted .455 (5-for-13) during the 1986 playoffs with three runs, five hits a home run and two RBIs. He missed half of the 1990 season due to a broken kneecap, then had stints with the Royals, Padres and Braves before returning to Anaheim for his final season in 2001.

3. Darin Erstad –Although he started in both left and center field, he played more of his games at first base and spent five of his 11 seasons in Anaheim at that position (1996-2006). Erstad had originally been drafted by the Mets in 1992 but refused to sign. Instead, the Angels took him with the first pick in 1995.

Known for his hustle and versatility, Erstad earned two All-Star selections (one at first base) and three gold gloves (one at each position he played, becoming the first player to win the award both in the outfield and at first base). In his All-Star season in 1998, he hit .296 with 19 home runs, 82 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases.

The 2000 silver slugger batted .286 with 114 home runs in his Angels career. He ranks fifth in franchise history in runs (818), hits (1,505), doubles (279), steals (170) and total bases (2,186), sixth in games (1,320) and tied for eighth in triples (30). Erstad appeared in 29 postseason games, totaling 18 runs, 40 hits, nine doubles, three homers, 12 RBIs and four stolen bases. He scored six runs, had nine hits, homered and drove in three runs during the 2002 World Series.

2. Albert Pujols – While many detractors would say he didn’t live up to the 10-year, $254 million contract he signed with the Angels in late 2011, he was a solid run producer for more than half of the deal. Pujols bashed 20 or more home runs six times and reached the 100-RBI mark four times during his run with Los Angeles (2012-21). Despite this, he only earned one All-Star selection, which came when he hit 40 home runs and drove in 95 in 2015.

Pujols is tied for fourth in franchise history with 222 home runs, and he ranks fifth in RBIs (783), seventh in total bases (2,062), ninth in games (1,181), hits (1,180) and doubles (214) and tenth in runs (561). The 2014 fielding champion went 2-for-12 in that year’s postseason with a home run and two runs batted in. After splitting 2021 with the Dodgers, Pujols returned home to St. Louis for his final season.

1. Rod Carew – After spending most of his career with the Twins as a second baseman, he moved one position to his left and earned six All-Star selections in seven seasons with the Angels (1979-85). Carew batted .300 or better in his final 10 seasons with Minnesota and did the same in his first five with California. He was traded before the 1979 season after a salary dispute.

Carew’s best season with the Angels was 1970, when he hit .331 with 179 hits, 34 doubles, 59 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. His .339 average in 1983 is the second-best single season total in team history. Carew ranks second in franchise history with a .314 average to go with 474 runs, 968 hits, 140 doubles, 18 home runs and 282 RBIs in 834 games. He collected his 3,000th hit on August 4, 1985, against the Twins.

After the 1986 season, Carew did not receive any offers to play and retired. He has worked with hitters from the youth level to the major leagues since his retirement, including a nine-year stint as Angels hitting coach in the 1990s. In 1991, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, becoming the first player from Panama to receive that honor (he was joined by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in 2019).

Third Basemen

Honorable Mention – Dave Chalk split his six-year Angels career (1973-78) almost equally between third base and shortstop. He earned an All-Star selection at each position and held a 399-324 edge in games played at the “hot corner.” Chalk’s best season was 1975, when he was an All-Star at third base after hitting .273 with a career-high 56 runs batted in. Overall, he had 256 runs, 631 hits, 12 home runs and 205 RBIs in 732 games.

5. Jack Howell – He split time with Doug DeCinces in the early part of his time with the Angels and even was the team’s left field starter in 1987. Howell made the most of his opportunities, hitting at least 15 home runs and driving in at least 50 runs in three straight seasons. He had 315 runs, 581 hits 119 doubles, 100 home runs and 313 RBIs in 822 games over nine seasons with California (1985-91 and 96-97). He went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout in the 1986 ALCS.

Howell left the U. S. after finishing the 1991 season with the Padres. He spent three seasons in Japan and returned to the Angels in 1996, but he was once again used sporadically. After two seasons with the Astros, he retired after the 1999 season and has been spending most of his time coaching. He was the manager for Anaheim’s single-A Midwest League representative before the team lost its affiliation in 2020.

4. Carney Lansford – While he was best known for his time in Oakland, he started his career with three solid seasons with the other A.L. West team on the California coast. Lansford finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1978 after batting .294 with eight home runs, 52 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. The following year, he set career highs with 114 runs, 188 hits and 19 home runs to go with 79 RBIs, 20 steals and a .287 average.

Lansford batted .280 with 264 runs, 478 hits, 42 home runs and 211 RBIs in 429 games over three seasons with California (1978-80). He also had five hits, two runs scored and three RBIs in the 1979 ALCS. After his time with the Angels, he went to the Red Sox, where he hit .336 and won the batting title and a silver slugger in the strike-shortened 1981 season. Lansford then played 29 postseason games with the Athletics, appeared in the World Series three times and won a title with Oakland in 1989.

3. Doug DeCinces – After a successful run in Baltimore, he moved across the country and was a solid producer during his six seasons in Southern California (1982-87). In each of those seasons, DeCinces had at least 15 home runs and 60 runs batted in, with his best output being a .301-30-97 stat line and career highs with 94 runs, 173 hits and 42 doubles, which earned him a silver slugger in 1982.

DeCinces batted .265 with 404 runs, 765 hits, 149 doubles, 130 home runs, 481 RBIs and 1,334 total bases in 787 games. The 1983 All-Star appeared in 12 postseason games with the Angels, amassing seven runs, 15 hits, five doubles, a homer and three runs batted in. He was released by the Angels and played four games with the Cardinals at the end of the 1987 season, the spent one year in Japan before ending his playing career.

DeCinces became a player agent (with his main client being future Angels third baseman Troy Glaus). However, he got into legal trouble when a friend told him about a business buy that led to insider trading, securities fraud and money laundering charges. DeCinces was found guilty and sentenced to eight months of home detention and pay a $10,000 fine (in addition to the $2.5 million in SEC charges he paid in the civil suit).

2. Chone Figgins – He played eight seasons with the Angels (2002-09), spending most of his time at third base, while also making more than a few appearances in center field and at second base. Figgins was known for his speed, and he used it to score runs, take extra bases and create havoc for opponents while he was on the basepaths.

Figgins set a franchise record with 17 triples in 2004, led the league with 62 steals the following year (a mark that ranks second in team history), stole at least 40 bases six times and scored more than 80 runs five times. He earned his lone All-Star selection in 2009, when he batted .298 with 183 hits, 54 RBIs, 42 steals, career high totals of 114 runs and 30 doubles and a league-leading 101 walks.

Figgins is the all-time franchise leader with 280 stolen bases. He ranks second in triples (53), eighth in runs (596) and ninth in average (.291) while totaling 1,045 hits, 148 doubles, 31 home runs, 341 RBIs and 1,392 total bases in 936 games. Figgins appeared in 35 postseason games with the Angels, totaling 13 runs, 21 hits, six RBIs and four steals. In the 2002 World Series, he scored one run and two games as a pinch hitter.

1. Troy Glaus – When he was healthy, he was one of the most dominant and feared power hitters in baseball. Glaus was originally drafted by the Padres in 1994 but didn’t sign. The situation worked out for the best, with the Angels taking the slugger third overall in 1997. He had three straight seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in the early 2000s. His 47 homers in 2000 led the league and set a team record, and he had 41 the following year.

In 2002, Glaus hit 30 home runs and drove in a career-high 111 runs, then showed more power during Anaheim’s run to the title. He was named World Series MVP and earned the Babe Ruth Award after batting .385 (10-for-26) with seven runs scored, three doubles, three home runs (including two in Game 1) and eight RBIs in the seven-game win over San Francisco.

Glaus earned his third All-Star selection in 2003, but shoulder issues caused him to lose the better part of the next two seasons. He finished his Angels career ranked sixth in home runs (182) and had 523 runs, 748 hits, 165 doubles, 515 RBIs and 1,473 total bases in 827 games. In 19 playoff games with the Angels, he scored 18 runs, had 25 hits, smacked nine home runs and drove in 16 runs. Glaus had a few solid seasons with the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Cardinals and retired after spending 2010 with the Braves.

Designated Hitters

Honorable Mentions – While Albert Pujols had his best years at first base, he spent three years at DH (2013 and 16-17), totaling 355 hits, 71 home runs and 284 RBIs in 400 games. He posted a .272-28-105 stat line in 2014 and batted .268 with 31 homers and 119 RBIs two years later.

5. Brian Downing – He started his Angels career as a catcher, then converted to left field before setting in as a designated hitter in his later years (1987-90). Downing had his best season at the position in 1987, when he hit .272 with 154 hits, 77 RBIs, career highs with 110 runs and 29 home runs and a league-leading 106 walks. He batted .268 with 296 runs, 515 hits, 82 homers and 251 RBIs as a designated hitter. He signed with Texas before the 1991 season and left California as the franchise leader in home runs, runs batted in, runs, hits, doubles and games played.

4. Don Baylor – Another consistent power hitter, he had his greatest moment during a six-year run with California (1977-82). Baylor had at least 20 home runs in four of those seasons, but his best by far was 1979. He won the American League MVP Award as a left fielder after batting .296, setting career highs with 186 hits, 33 doubles, 39 home runs and 333 total bases and also leading the league with 120 runs scored and 139 runs batted in.

Baylor batted .262 with 481 runs, 813 hits, 140 doubles, 141 homers, 523 RBIs, 89 stolen bases and 1,390 total bases in 824 games. He led the league in getting hit by a pitch eight times, but just once with the Angels. Baylor had 267 in his career, which was the post-1900 record until Astros star Craig Biggio broke it in 2005.

“Groove” was a member of the Players Association executive board and helped the players and owners work through the strike in 1981. After leaving the Angels, he played six more years, most notably with the Yankees and Red Sox, before retiring in 1988. He was the first manager in Rockies history and also had a stint leading the Cubs, posting a 627-689 record in nine seasons.

3. Charles “Chili” Davis – He spent five of his seven seasons with the Angels as designated hitter (1988-90 and 93-96), but he also played all three outfield positions. Davis hit 20 or more home runs and drove in at least 80 runs in seven seasons, with his best power season being 1993, when he had 27 homers and 112 runs batted in. The following year, he made his only All-Star team with California after posting a .311-26-84 stat line before the players’ strike.

Davis batted .279 with 520 runs, 973 hits, 167 doubles, 156 home runs, 618 RBIs and 1,620 total bases in 949 games with the Angels. He was a three-time champion, winning a title with the Twins in 1991 and two more with the Yankees in his final two seasons (1998-99). After his retirement, Davis worked with hitters in the major leagues as well as in the development system in his native Jamaica.

2. Reggie Jackson – After many great moments with the Athletics and Yankees, but also countless fights with New York’s manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner, he signed with California and proved he was not over the hill. He earned three All-Star selections in five seasons with the Angels (1982-86) and topped 25 home runs and 80 runs batted in three times while splitting his time between designated hitter (374 games) and the outfield (276).

Jackson finished sixth in the MVP voting in his first season with California as a right fielder, and he earned All-Star and silver slugger honors after hitting .275 with 92 runs, 101 RBIs and league-leading totals of 39 home runs and 156 strikeouts. He had 331 runs, 557 hits, 124 homers and 374 RBIs in 687 games. Jackson led the league in strikeouts five times, and he is the all-time leader in the category with 2,597.

“Mr. October” appeared in 11 playoff games with the Angels, totaling four runs, seven hits, one home run and four RBIs. He played in the World Series six times, winning three titles with Oakland and two in New York while earning the MVP award at each stop (1973 with the Athletics and four years later with the Yankees). Jackson returned to Oakland for one final season in 1987 and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1993.

1. Shohei Ohtani – Not since the days of Babe Ruth has a player taken his turn in the rotation and batted in the others with such success. Ohtani came to the United States as one of the most highly touted players from Japan in recent memory. He earned the Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 after posting a .285-22-61 stat line.

Ohtani regressed slightly the following year and dropped off during the COVID-shortened 2020 season before becoming one of the best players in the game and earning All-Star selections in each of the past three years. In 2021, he won the MVP Award after posting career highs with 103 runs, 46 home runs, 100 RBIs, 26 stolen bases and a league-leading eight triples. He also went 9-2 with 156 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings and became the first player to start at multiple positions in an All-Star Game.

In 2022, he was the MVP runner-up and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting after posting a career-high 160 hits to go with 90 runs score, 34 homers and 95 RBIs. Ohtani had his best season as a pitcher, going 15-9 with a 2.33 earned run average and 219 strikeouts. He was well on his way to similar numbers this season when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in August and may not pitch in 2024. As a batter, he led the league with 44 home runs, a .412 on-base percentage, a .654 slugging percentage and 325 total bases but his season ended early in September thanks to an oblique injury.

Overall, he batted .274 with 428 runs, 691 hits, 129 doubles, 171 home runs, 437 RBIs and 1,381 total bases in 701 games. Ohtani won the Edgar Martinez Award in 2021-22 (with the 2023 honors still to be awarded). While he will not pitch in the upcoming season, he should be recovered and able to continue his phenomenal run of hitting.

Upcoming Stories

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops – coming soon
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders – coming soon
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers – coming soon

Previous Series

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

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