Angels All-Decade team
It was a tough call to leave out Shields, who had a 3.03 ERA in nine seasons with the club, but Rodriguez was simply the better pitcher with a 2.35 ERA and a much higher strikeout rate during his time with the Angels.It was also difficult to pick the franchise's top starting pitchers after Lackey, Washburn and Colon, but the panel went with right-hander Jered Weaver, who is still on the roster and sported a 51-27 record and a 3.73 ERA during the past decade, and right-hander Kelvim Escobar, who had a solid 3.60 ERA in four seasons with the team before shoulder problems plagued him in his last two years. Current starters Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders were also heavily considered, but Santana wasn't as consistent as the others, and Saunders' 4.22 ERA couldn't outweigh his 48-22 career record. The entire infield, as well as the catcher, comes from the 2002 club, with Bengie Molina behind the plate, Darin Erstad at first base, Adam Kennedy at second base, David Eckstein at shortstop and Troy Glaus at third base. Glaus' inclusion was also one of the tougher calls, with the panel giving him the nod over the recently departed Chone Figgins. Figgins has Glaus beat in defense, speed and batting average, but Glaus brought the prototypical power, hitting 152 homers in his five years with the club during the decade, and his .368 on-base percentage was higher than Figgins' .363. Glaus also had the benefit of being named the MVP of the 2002 World Series, while Figgins mostly struggled in the postseason. Molina had some competition with current catcher Mike Napoli, but during Molina's time with the club, he was still one of the elite defensive catchers in the league and he played in nearly twice as many games with the Angels as Napoli. Eckstein and Kennedy, two fan favorites from the 2002 title team, made the team fairly easily, with Orlando Cabrera being Eckstein's main competition at shortstop. Eckstein, however, got the nod based on more time with the club and the fact he excelled during the '02 postseason. Erstad was actually the only position player to get consideration at two positions, as he made contributions as the club's center fielder and first baseman but ultimately got the nod at first, where he won the Gold Glove in '04. It left room in the outfield for Torii Hunter to sneak in at center field, despite playing just two seasons with the club. Hunter, however, made those seasons count with two Gold Gloves as well as a Silver Slugger and an All-Star selection in '09. Finally, Salmon, perhaps the most beloved player in Angels history, was awarded by being named the club's All-Decade designated hitter after serving in that role late in his career. Salmon, who also spent time in right field, batted .269 with 103 home runs and 356 RBIs in six seasons during the decade. So while choosing Angels' All-Decade Team was a difficult task for the panel and is sure to raise plenty of debate, there's no question the team includes some of the franchise's all-time greats and pays homage to the Angels' World Series-winning team in 2002.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.