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Anthony Rendon should eliminate the Angels' long-standing third-base woes

Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Troy Glaus ripped a two-run double over the head of Barry Bonds in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, it didn't just cap an Angels 6-5 come-from-behind win over the San Francisco Giants and practically cement series MVP honors for the Angels third baseman. It marked the end of an era.

That 2002 version of Glaus was the last time the Angels had a highly productive, prototypical power-hitting third baseman, a 17-year drought that should end with this week's blockbuster signing of free agent Anthony Rendon.

Glaus averaged 36 homers and 94 RBIs a season from 1999-2002, including an American League-high 47 homers in 2000. Injuries limited him to 149 games in 2003 and 2004, and he left as a free agent before 2005.

In Glaus' wake has been a trail of busted prospects such as Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood, trades for mediocre players such as Alberto Callaspo and Yunel Escobar, a failed experiment in Mark Trumbo, an awful free-agent signing in Zack Cozart and a future Hall of Famer who signed elsewhere in Adrian Beltre.

Chone Figgins, an Angels regular from 2004-2009, was the team's most productive third baseman since Glaus, but he was a speedy leadoff man, not a power threat.

The Angels thought they solved their third base woes in early 2011 when they were on the verge of a five-year deal with Beltre, the former Dodger who had a home in Los Angeles and preferred to play for the Angels.

 

But owner Arte Moreno balked when agent Scott Boras asked for one more year, and Beltre signed a six-year, $96-million deal with Texas, where he hit .304 with an .865 OPS, 199 homers and 699 RBIs in eight seasons.

While future third base stars Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman and Evan Longoria grew up within a half-hour drive of Anaheim, the Angels could not produce or acquire one power-hitting third baseman ... until now.

Rendon, 29, hit .319 with a 1.010 OPS, 34 homers, 44 doubles and a major league-high 126 RBIs for the World Series-champion Washington Nationals in 2019. He hit .299 with a .912 OPS, 103 homers, 167 doubles and 403 RBIs the past four seasons. He plays Gold Glove-caliber defense.

He is everything the Angels have lacked at third base for almost two decades, but to better appreciate what Rendon will bring to the position, one need only reflect on what so many others failed to provide.

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