Angels' Top 5 designated hitters: Bollinger's take

May 18th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Angels all-time best: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | LF | CF | RF

Here is Rhett Bollinger's ranking of the top 5 designated hitters in Angels history. Next week: right-handed starters.

1) , 1977-82
Key fact: 1979 American League MVP

Baylor saw action in left field, right field and at first base during his time with the Angels, but he served as designated hitter 516 times, which is the fourth-most in Angels history. Baylor joined the Angels as a free agent prior to the 1977 season but his '79 season was one of the most memorable in club history. Baylor hit .296/.371/.530 with 36 homers and 33 doubles while leading the AL in runs scored (120), RBIs (139) and games played (162). He became the first Angels player to win AL MVP honors and was an All-Star that season while leading the club to its first-ever AL West Division title. His 139 RBIs also remain a club record.

He also helped lead the Angels to the postseason again in 1982, when he batted .263/.329/.424 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in 157 games and finished 23rd in the balloting for AL MVP. He hit .294 with a grand slam and 10 RBIs in five games in the AL Championship Series that year but the Angels lost to the Brewers.

Baylor played a pivotal role in putting the Angels on the map in Southern California and was a fan favorite during his time with the club. He was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame in 1990 and later served as the club’s hitting coach from 2014-15.

2) , 1988-90, '93-96
Key fact: His 108 homers as a DH is most in club history

Davis joined the Angels after signing as a free agent before the 1988 season and was initially a right fielder and left fielder before back issues forced him to move to the DH spot in '90. The Jamaican-born switch-hitter hit .268/.339/.424 with 55 homers, 70 doubles and 241 RBIs in 425 games over his first three seasons with the club before departing to sign with the Twins in '91.

Davis, though, returned to the Angels in '93 and had a few of his most productive seasons with the club. He was an All-Star in the strike-shortened '94 season, hitting .311/.410/.561 with 26 homers and 84 RBIs in just 108 games. In his seven seasons with the Angels, he batted .279/.365/.464 with 156 homers, 167 doubles and 618 RBIs over 949 games.

3) , 1973-74
Key fact: First DH in club history

Toward the end of his Hall of Fame career, Robinson was losing playing time with the Dodgers. With the DH set to begin in the AL in 1973, the two rival clubs swung a huge trade before the season. Robinson was traded to the Angels with Billy Grabarkewitz, Bill Singer, Mike Strahler and Bobby Valentine for Ken McMullen and Andy Messersmith. It reunited Robinson with general manager Harry Dalton, who had been the Orioles' GM when Robinson was with Baltimore, and center fielder Vada Pinson, who had played with Robinson on the Reds.

Robinson responded with a bounce-back year in '73, hitting .266/.372/.489 with 30 homers and 97 RBIs in 147 games and finished 15th in the balloting for AL MVP. He was an All-Star in '74, when he hit .251/.371/.461 with 20 homers and 63 RBIs in 129 games with the Angels before being traded to the Indians that September. After three weeks, Robinson became player-manager of the Indians, becoming the first African-American manager in Major League history.

4) , 2002-03
Key fact: Won 2002 World Series with Angels

The Angels acquired Fullmer in a trade with the Blue Jays for pitcher Brian Cooper prior to the 2002 season. Fullmer became the club's regular DH that year while also seeing some time at first base, hitting .289/.357/.531 with 19 homers, 35 doubles and 59 RBIs in 130 games. He also fared well in the postseason, batting .294/.351/.471 with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs in 12 games to help the Angels win their first World Series title. Fullmer was productive again in 2003, batting .306/.387/.500 with nine homers and 35 RBIs until a right knee injury ended his season after 63 games. He left as a free agent to join the Rangers in 2004, his final year in the Majors.

5) , 2018-present
Key fact: 2018 AL Rookie of the Year

Ohtani burst onto the scene in 2018 as a two-way player with the Angels after he was signed in one of the most frenzied sweepstakes in baseball history. Ohtani proved he was worth the hype, hitting .285/.361/.564 with 22 homers, 21 doubles and 61 RBIs in 104 games as a DH, while also posting a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings over 10 starts. Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery that limited him to serving as DH last season and he batted .286/.343/.505 with 18 homers, 20 doubles and 62 RBIs in 106 games. He's returning to two-way status going forward after recovering from his elbow and knee surgeries, so he'll have plenty more chances to add to his totals as DH. He remains under team control through '23.

Honorable mentions

served as DH more than any player in club history at 597 games but he was already included in our all-time list as a left fielder. Downing hit .270/.371/.455 with 96 homers and 317 RBIs as a DH with the Angels. ... has been the Angels' DH for 546 games, which is the third-highest in team history, but he was listed at first base. Pujols has batted .257/.310/.434 with 96 homers and 371 RBIs as a DH with the club. ... was the club's DH in 2010 and batted .263/.354/.433 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 120 games.