Angels' best players not in Cooperstown

December 1st, 2021

One of the fun things about the Baseball Hall of Fame is the arguments it elicits about who is deserving of enshrinement and who is not.

Every club has its borderline candidates who some believe should be in Cooperstown, and the Angels are no exception. Here’s a look at the top five Angels players who are retired and currently not in the Hall of Fame:

1. (1977-86)
Grich played 10 of his 17 seasons in the Majors with the Angels, and he is almost universally viewed as one of the most deserving of enshrinement among players not in the Hall of Fame. Grich did just about everything well as an elite second baseman, and he was a six-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and a one-time Silver Slugger. He racked up 71 WAR during his career, which is eighth all-time among second basemen and puts him ahead of several Hall of Fame second basemen such as Frankie Frisch, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio, per Baseball Reference's metric. Grich is a member of both the Orioles and Angels Halls of Fame, but the 71-year-old is still waiting for his potential call to Cooperstown.

2. Tommy John (1982-85)

John won 288 games and posted a 3.34 ERA while playing for six clubs in an incredible 26-year career with help from an innovative surgery that was ultimately named after him and changed the game of baseball ever since. John pitched four seasons with the Angels, but his best seasons came with the Dodgers and Yankees, as he was an All-Star from 1978-80 and finished in the top four in balloting for the American League Cy Young Award in 1977, '78 and '79. He posted 61.6 career WAR, which is just ahead of Hall of Famers Stan Coveleski, Early Wynn, Al Spalding, Dazzy Vance and Jim Bunning. John appeared on the Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame ballot last year.

3. (2009-12)
Abreu doesn't get enough credit for his strong 18-year career, as he blended on-base skills, power and speed as well as any player in his era. He was an All-Star twice and won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award, while batting .291/.395/.475 with six clubs, including a four-year stint with the Angels. Abreu had 60.2 career WAR, which ranks 19th all-time among right fielders and ahead of contemporaries such as Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero and Sammy Sosa.

4. (1993-99)
Edmonds was one of the best defensive players of his era, winning eight Gold Gloves, and he was a four-time All-Star while also leading the Cardinals to the 2006 World Series title. He had plenty of power with 393 career home runs, including topping 40 in a season twice, but he suffered several injuries during his 17-year career. He played his first seven seasons with the Angels before moving on to the Cardinals and four other clubs. His 60.4 career WAR is 16th among center fielders and ahead of Hall of Famers Max Carey, Earl Averill and Kirby Puckett.

5. (1986-99)
Finley won 200 games with a 3.85 ERA in his 17-year career, including a club-record 165 wins with the Angels. The left-hander was a five-time All-Star who retired in 2002 as No. 25 all-time in strikeouts. Finley posted 57.9 WAR in his 17-year career, putting him ahead of Hall of Famers such as Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax and Bob Lemon.