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Darin Erstad

(Photo Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

MLB’s One-Season Wonders: Darin Erstad and 2000

Darren
Erstad pictured left (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

MLB’s One-Season Wonders: Darin Erstad and 2000

Ah, what a time the early 2000s were for baseball. The juice fueled big power numbers, facilitating many one-season wonders during this era. Perhaps one of my favorites was outfielder Darin Erstad and his epic 2000 campaign for the Anaheim Angels.

Before 2000

The Angels had solid teams in the late ’90s. None had the final push to get into the postseason, but a deep lineup was a big reason for some success. Their leadoff man, Erstad, was a mainstay who could hit the ball well and steal many bases.

Erstad broke into the Majors in 1996 with the Angels. From then until 1999, he had a solid, but not crazy, slash line of .282/.339/.433 with a below-average OPS+ of 98. Erstad had some power but never hit more than 19 homers up to that point in his career. Then 2000 came along.

2000

Anaheim’s 2000 season was mediocre. Although the offense carried the way once again, the pitching was awful. Their record stood at 82-80 after all. Perhaps the brightest spot on the entire roster was Erstad, who absolutely broke out and tore up American League pitching.

Let’s start off with his WAR of 8.4. That’s mind-boggling. If Erstad played to this level in 2022, he would’ve led the MAJORS. Except, this was the steroid era and he placed third.

His other offensive stats were absolutely epic. Erstad had a slash line of .355/.409/.541 with 25 home runs, 28 stolen bases, 100 runs batted in, and 121 runs scored. Erstad also led the majors with an insane 240 hits.

He still didn’t get the credit he deserved. Erstad finished eighth in MVP voting. He did however earn an appearance in the All-Star game (somehow didn’t start), and a Silver Slugger Award. Erstad also was a wizard with the glove, snagging one of the gold variety.

Steroid accusations were never an issue for Erstad that year either. It is in my opinion one of the greatest seasons ever, and few people are even aware of it. Erstad held the record for most RBI out of the leadoff spot until it was broken by Charlie Blackmon in 2017.

After 2000

Erstad was still a fixture for the Angels beyond his epic 2000 season, even if he didn’t put up the numbers. He helped Anaheim win their first World Series championship in 2002, never hitting below .300 throughout the entirety of that postseason.

Unfortunately, he was never the same during the regular season. Erstad never batted above .300 again after 2000 nor did he post an above-average OPS+. Erstad was exceptional in the field, gathering two more Gold Gloves, but no more offensive accolades.

The power slipped out of his hands as well. He combined for only 47 home runs from 2001 until his retirement in 2009. Erstad slashed .267/.320/.367 with an OPS+ of 82 during this period.

After a stint with the White Sox and the Astros, Darin Erstad called it quits after his age-35 season.

***

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