Retro Angels: 1989 Angels

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The 1989 Angels

This was the first Angels team that I watched from beginning to end. It was a fun team to watch, and had one of the best starting rotations in club history. The offense wasn’t what was expected, but their pitching guided them through a season that could’ve been another playoff appearance if not for the mighty Oakland Athletics at the time. The Halos had the best record in the Majors heading into the All-Star break. But tailed off a bit in the second half. Still, this is the team that had me hooked. And you could say this is the best Angels team that didn’t make the playoffs. Below is some of the highlights of the 1989 Angels season from Wikipedia:


Offseason Acquisitions


Regular season


The 1989 Angels were led by pitching, having four starters with double-digit wins and three with sub-3.00 ERAs.  At 38 years-old, Bert Blyleven had one of his best seasons for the Angels in 1989.  He led the club in wins (17) and IP (241) while compiling an ERA of 2.73.  McCaskill wasn’t the key to the turnaround, but he was a big part winning 15 games and having an ERA of 2.93.  Street & Smith’s was right about Chuck Finley being on the brink of stardom.  Finley made his first all-star team appearance in ’89 and while his control didn’t get much better, he led the Halos in strike outs (156) and ERA (2.57) while adding in 16 wins.  Rookie Jim Abbott had 12 wins in 29 starts without pitching an inning in the minor leagues.  The Angels pitching staff was among the league leaders in ERA (2nd), wins (3rd), complete games (1st), shutouts (1st), hits allowed (3rd), runs allowed (2nd), home runs allowed (5th), walks allowed (4th) and strike outs (5th).

Chili Davis ended up in left field, Washington started 91 games in right and Devon White played 152 games in center field.  The magazine was right in stating Ray would probably move back to second base (see above).  1989 was the only full season Claudell Washington played in Anaheim as he traded back to the Yankees (with Rich Monteleone) in 1990 for Luis Polonia.  Washington hit a decent .273/.319/.428, while Chili Davis became a fan-favorite hitting 22 home runs, leading the Angels with 90 RBI and hitting .271/.340/.436 (120 OBS+).  The on-base percentage black hole was Devon White.  Although he made the all-star team in ’89 primarily based on his 44 stolen bases, White managed to compile a microscopic OBP of .282.  What made this awful OBP even worse was White led the team with 636 at-bats.  How bad was the offense?  No Angel with more than 60 at-bats hit higher than .290 and with the exception of Brian Downing, no regular had an OBP higher than .340.

The Angel bullpen was led by Bryan Harvey and his 25 saves, but 37 year-olds Greg Minton (2.20 ERA, 90 IP) and Bob McClure (1.55 ERA, 52.1 IP) had solid seasons setting up Harvey.  Sherm Corbett pitched just 5.1 innings, DeWayne Buice was traded to Toronto in March of ’89, and Stew Cliburn never pitched in the majors after 1988.

  • September 9, 1989 – Devon White became the first member of the Angels to steal 3 bases in one inning. The opponent was the Boston Red Sox.


AL West Standings

AL West W L Pct. GB
Oakland Athletics 99 63 .611
Kansas City Royals 92 70 .568 7
California Angels 91 71 .562 8
Texas Rangers 83 79 .512 16
Minnesota Twins 80 82 .494 19
Seattle Mariners 73 89 .451 26
Chicago White Sox 69 92 .429 29½


All-Star game

The 1989 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 60th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 11, 1989 at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California, the home of the California Angels of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 5-3. The game is remembered for Bo Jackson’s monstrous lead-off home run to center field.


Notable transactions

  • March 9, 1989: DeWayne Buice was traded by the Angels to the Toronto Blue Jays for Cliff Young.
  • June 5, 1989: Chad Curtis was drafted by the California Angels in the 45th round of the 1989 amateur draft. Player signed June 11, 1989.