ANAHEIM -- The Angels have retired only six numbers since becoming a Major League franchise in 1961, and no number has been retired since Jim Fregosi’s No. 11 in '98, indicating just how rare an honor it is.
Of the six numbers retired, only three played for the organization, consisting of an exclusive club of Rod Carew's No. 29, Nolan Ryan's No. 30 and Fregosi's No. 11. The Angels also retired the No. 26 for original owner Gene Autry, indicating he was the organization's 26th man, and long-time coach Jimmie Reese's No. 50. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 is retired by all 30 clubs in MLB.
So it brings us to the question of who would be the next Angels player to have his number retired? There are two numbers that have strong cases, but it also includes three players.
Three-time American League MVP Award winner Mike Trout is destined to have his No. 27 retired, but coincidentally, he shares that number with Vladimir Guerrero, who became the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame as an Angel in 2018. And no player has worn Tim Salmon’s No. 15 since he retired in '06, as catcher Jason Castro was set to wear that number this season, but switched to No. 16 in deference of Salmon.
Trout, though, is the most obvious candidate, as he’s regarded as the best player in the sport and has racked up countless honors since winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012. He has won the AL MVP Award in '14, '16 and '19, while also being named an eight-time All-Star and a seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He has also finished second in the balloting for the AL MVP Award four times and fourth once, as he has been the most consistently great player of this era.
But the Angels could look to honor both Trout and Guerrero, as the latter won the AL MVP Award with the club in 2004 and remains the only player to wear an Angels cap in the Hall of Fame. However, Trout received No. 27 when he broke into the Majors in '11, indicating the club wasn’t planning to retire the number at that point.
Salmon also has a tough case, as he was never an All-Star during his 14 years with the Angels, but he is regarded as one of the faces of the franchise because of his longevity with the club and his role in leading the organization to its first and only World Series championship in 2002. No one has worn No. 15 since his retirement, but the fact that Castro was issued that number this spring before switching shows that there’s a chance it might not be retired.
The No. 16 Castro switched to was Garret Anderson’s number, and it has been worn by five Angels players since Anderson retired as the club’s all-time leader in games played, hits, doubles, runs scored and RBIs. So the Angels clearly set a high bar when it comes to retiring a number.
Trout’s No. 27 is the lone obvious number expected to be retired, but there’s still a chance with Salmon's No. 15, especially if players continue to pay tribute to his career with the Angels by declining to wear it.