Best Angels Player - 2009
Readers' Choice: Chone Figgins
The Halos' front office gets scads of credit for its player development and acquisition strategies, and with some exceptions ([cough] Gary Matthews Jr. [cough]), such credit is deserved. But at the first-base position in 2009, they just plain got lucky. Yeah, give them their due for signing Morales in the first place after his much-ballyhooed defection from the Island of Dr. Castreau, but come on: If they really thought Morales was ready to bust out this year, would they have offered Mark Teixeira a $160 flippin' million contract? No, they would not have. But the Angels' plan B—a guy who hadn't played more than 57 games or hit more than five home runs in the bigs—has indeed busted out, smashing more than 30 homers, driving in more than 100 runs, with a slugging percentage lately in the .560s. In fact, he's having a season roughly equivalent offensively to Teixeira. (To be fair, Tex is more patient, drawing more walks; and while Morales' defense has improved this year, he's not making anyone forget Teixeira's two Gold Gloves.) But here's the thing: Tex is earning $20 million from the Yankees this year. Morales' salary? A mere $600,000. ¡Ño! ¡Que barato! And Morales has not only filled Tex's shoes at first, but he has also helped keep thump in a lineup that remained potent, even with Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter hurt for chunks of the year. With the Angels' starting pitching and middle relief in constant chaos, the team has needed that thump to achieve yet another AL West title. So, the only problem we see? Dude needs a nickname. For your consideration: The Cuban Missile. You're welcome.