Angels' Top 5 left fielders: Bollinger's take

April 27th, 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 5 left fielders in Angels history. Next week: center fielders.

Angels' All-Time Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS

1. , 1994-2008
Key fact: Only Angel to reach 2,000 hits with the club

With his smooth left-handed swing, Anderson set numerous club records during his time with the Angels, including the most hits (2,368), total bases (3,743), doubles (489), RBIs (1,292) and runs scored (1,024). His eight grand slams are also the most in franchise history, as are his 10 RBIs in a single game against the Yankees on Aug. 21, 2007. He's third in homers with 272 behind Tim Salmon and Mike Trout, but that's good enough for the most by a left-handed hitter. He also set a club record by recording an RBI in 12 straight games in '07.

Anderson, a local product who attended Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, Calif., was a fourth-round pick by the club in the 1990 Draft and made his debut on July 27, 1994. Anderson followed it up with an impressive rookie year that saw him hit .321 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs in 106 games, finishing second in the balloting for American League Rookie of the Year to Marty Cordova. He received MVP votes in 2001, '02 and '03, including a fourth-place finish in '02. He was an All-Star in '02, '03 and '05 and won Silver Slugger Awards in '02 and '03, when he led the league in doubles for two consecutive years. In '03, he won both the Home Run Derby and was the MVP of the All-Star Game.

Anderson played a key role in leading the Angels to their World Series title in 2002, hitting a combined .300 with two homers, four doubles and 13 RBIs in 16 postseason games that year. He played in eight postseason series with the Angels, batting .245 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 36 games. He left the club after the '08 season and played one year with the Braves and another with the Dodgers before retiring. He was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame in '16 and remains active with the organization.

2. , 1978-1990
Key fact: 38 bWAR is fourth-highest in club history among position players

Downing played multiple positions with the Angels, including catcher in his first two seasons, but by 1982 he was a regular in left field. In his 13 seasons with the Angels, Downing batted .271/.372/.441 with 222 homers, 282 doubles and 846 RBIs. He hit 106 homers as a left fielder, which is the second most in franchise history, behind Anderson.

The Anaheim native played in three postseason series with the Angels in 1979, '82 and '86, but he hit just .197 with one homer and eight RBIs in 16 games. When he left the club after the 1990 season, he held the franchise record for just about every offensive category. He was inducted into the club Hall of Fame in 2009.

3. Rick Reichardt, 1964-70
Key fact: His 65 homers as a left fielder is third-most in franchise history

Reichardt is best known as the player who ended the “bonus baby” system in baseball, as there was a bidding war for his services in 1964 after he was a two-sport star at the University of Wisconsin. Reichardt received a record $200,000 signing bonus from the Angels and it led to the creation of the amateur Draft the next season with Rick Monday becoming the first player ever selected. Due to the “bonus baby” rules at the time, Reichardt had to remain on the Major League roster as a 21-year-old in '64.

He didn't become a regular until 1966, when he hit the first home run in Angel Stadium history before batting .288/.367/.480 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 89 games that year. He received MVP votes that year and was a regular for the Angels from '67-69 before being traded to the Senators in '70 for Ken McMullen.

4. Leon Wagner, 1961-63
Key fact: Three-time All-Star with the Angels

"Daddy Wags" played with five teams over his 12-year career but was particularly productive with the Angels. He was selected to both All-Star Games in 1962 and was an All-Star again in '63. His best season was that '62 campaign, when he hit .268/.326/.500 with 37 homers and 107 RBIs in 160 games, finishing fourth in the balloting for the AL MVP Award. He also batted .291/.352/.456 with 26 homers and 90 RBIs in 149 games in '63. He was traded to the Indians for Joe Adcock and Barry Latman before the '64 season.

5. , 2005-10
Key fact: His 54 homers as a left fielder ranks as fifth-highest in franchise history

The Angels acquired Rivera along with infielder Maicer Izturis from the Nationals for Jose Guillen before the 2005 season. Guillen had a falling out with manager Mike Scioscia, and it led to the lopsided trade that saw the Angels net Rivera and Izturis, who were both productive players during their time with the club. In his best seasons with the Halos, Rivera hit .310 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs in 124 games with the Angels in '06 before batting .287 with 25 homers and 88 RBIs in 138 games in '09.

Honorable mentions
was the club's left fielder from 1990-93, and his 517 hits while playing the position ranks as the third-most in club history. He also stole 149 bases as a left fielder, which leads the position. … ’s best years were with the A’s but, he remained productive with the Angels, when healthy. Rudi, who played with the Halos from 1977-80, hit .249/.297/.425 with 57 homers and 246 RBIs in 391 games with the club. … has been with the Angels for parts of three seasons and hit 30 homers in 2018 before suffering several injuries in '19. If he can stay healthy and return to form, he could move up the list as he's under contract through the '22 season.