When we look back at Angels lead off hitters it may look a bit sketchy to some, we sure have gone through a very large list especially recently, since the departure of Chone Figgins. Obviously many will remember David Eckstien, Chone Figgins and even Darin Erstad who had a brief run as our lead off man. However those are obvious and somewhat recent so i decided to take a look back at the guy that i remember vividly dropping bunts down the line and legging it out, the guy who wore a gold 22 around his neck, Luis Polonia.
Polonia was always a very flashy kind of guy very exciting to watch, at any moment you almost expected that drag bunt, and once he was on catchers were waiting for him to take off, Polonia was a very decent hitter often using all fields a left handed batter who would slap the ball to left field on the outside pitch. He was the typical lead off guy of the time, much like, Brett Butler and Otis Nixon, but Luis stuck out with his flashy batting gloves and customized wristband with his number and face imprinted on them, Luis was our guy.
Luis started his Angels career in 1990 in a trade that sent him to Anaheim from the Yankees, Luis in that 1990 season played in 109 games for the Halos posting a very impressive .336 avg all while leading off . In his ’91 season Polonia batted .296 48 stolen bases scoring 92 runs, what we must remember is that Polonia was in a lineup that was not very impressive, Polonia scored most of his runs by getting on base and using his speed to make his way around the base path. In 1992 Luis continued to excite fans on the base paths stealing 52 while also driving in 50 not bad again from the lead off spot on that team, while his batting average dropped his base stealing increased, in 1993 his final season in Anaheim, Luis stole 55 bases while batting .271.
In 4 seasons with the Angels Luis Polonia batted .294 in 560 games scored 300 runs and stole 174 bases, he wasn’t the guy you went to the Big A to watch but more often than not he amazed you with his speed and tenacity, to me Polonia stood out from the rest of the Angels in that era, on teams that didnt have very many stars Polonia shined and will always be remembered by many Angels Fans.
- John Magdaleno