Angels' Top 5 first basemen: Bollinger's take

March 30th, 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.

Here is Rhett Bollinger’s ranking of the top five first basemen in Angels history. Next week: second basemen.

1. Rod Carew, 1979-85
Key fact: Six-time Angels All-Star at first base

Hall of Famer 's best years were with the Twins, when he was a seven-time batting champion and a 12-time All-Star, but he remained productive with the Angels, hitting .314/.393/.392 while being named an All-Star for six consecutive seasons (1979-84).

Angels' Top 5: Catchers | Second basemen

Carew's six All-Star appearances were a club record until it was surpassed by Mike Trout in 2018. Carew lacked power and had trouble staying healthy late in his career, but he remained one of the best contact hitters and bunters of all time during his time with the Angels. He also helped them to the postseason in 1979 and '82, slashing a combined .294/.368/.412.

He lives in Southern California and remains active with the club, promoting heart health through his foundation, Heart of 29, since he suffered a massive heart attack in 2017.

2. Wally Joyner, 1986-91, 2001
Key fact: Leads all Angels first basemen in hits and homers

As a rookie in 1986, burst onto the scene and was quickly given the nickname "Wally World" in reference to the popular movie "National Lampoon's Vacation." He was the starting first baseman that year on the All-Star team and finished second in the balloting for the American League Rookie of the Year Award to .

Joyner received MVP Award votes in 1986 and '87, and he fared well in the '86 AL Championship Series against Boston, going 5-for-11 with a homer and two RBIs. Joyner played seven years with the Angels and his 116 homers and 945 hits at the position are the most in franchise history. He also remains involved with the Angels and was a guest instructor in Spring Training this year.

3. Darin Erstad, 1996-2006
Key fact: A 32.6 bWAR that is sixth all-time among Angels

A tough case because he played outfield and first base during his time with the Angels, won the Gold Glove as an outfielder in 2000 and '02 before winning one at first base in '04 to become the first and only player to win as an outfielder and an infielder. But Erstad’s best years came in the outfield, including his incredible 2000 season that saw him rack up 240 hits, slash .355/.409/.541 and finish eighth in the balloting for the AL MVP Award.

He was also an All-Star in 1998 and 2000, and he won an AL Silver Slugger Award in 2000. Erstad made the transition to first base full time in '04 after playing 274 games there from 1997-99.

Erstad excelled in the postseason, hitting a combined .339/.368/.492 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 29 games in 2002, '04 and '05. He memorably hit .352 with two homers and seven RBIs in 16 games in '02, helping the Angels to the World Series title.

4. Albert Pujols, 2012-present
Key fact: Fifth all-time among Angels in home runs

The Angels made a big splash before the 2012 season, signing to a 10-year deal worth $240 million after he was a three-time National League MVP Award winner with the Cardinals and helped them to two World Series titles.

Pujols hasn't been the same force he was with St. Louis. He has been an All-Star just once with the Angels, in 2015, but he did receive MVP votes in '12 and '14. His best year with the club was his first, when he hit .285/.343/.516 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs. He also clubbed 40 homers in '15 and 31 in '16, and drove in at least 100 runs in '12, '14, '16 and '17.

Pujols has dealt with his share of injuries late in his career, although he stayed healthy enough in 2019 to collect 23 homers and 93 RBIs in 131 games. He also has reached plenty of memorable milestones with the Angels, including his 500th and 600th homers and 3,000th hit. Pujols is the only player in MLB history with at least 650 homers and 650 doubles. He remains under contract through the '21 season, so he has some time to add to his totals.

5. Scott Spiezio, 2000-03
Key fact: Hit pivotal three-run homer in Game 6 of 2002 World Series

Signed by the Angels as a free agent before the 2000 season, saw time at multiple positions before settling into the starting job at first base in 2001. His best season came in '02, when he slashed .285/.371/.436 with 12 homers and 82 RBIs in 153 games.

Spiezio really made his mark in the postseason, batting .326/.424/.600 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 16 games while helping the Halos to the 2002 title over the Giants. His biggest hit came in Game 6 of the World Series, when he connected on a three-run homer off Felix Rodriguez to bring the Angels within two runs after they entered the seventh inning in a 5-0 hole. The Angels completed their comeback the next inning, and Spiezio's homer will always be a part of Angels lore.

Honorable mentions

likely would've made the list if it weren't for a gruesome lower left leg fracture suffered when he jumped on home plate after a game-winning grand slam on May 29, 2010. Morales finished fifth in the balloting for the AL MVP Award the previous year and had the makings of a future star. He returned for one more season with the Angels in ’12 before going onto a productive career with several other clubs, including the Royals.

had incredible power with the Angels, hitting 29 homers in 2011, 32 in '12 and 34 in '13. He finished second in the balloting for the AL Rookie of the Year Award that went to the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson in '11 and was an All-Star in '12.

won AL Gold Glove Awards with the Angels in 1995 and '96 before he was traded to the Giants. He also drove in 102 runs in ’95.