Angels outfield canonized

The Angels' Guillen, Guerrero and Mondesi (until the DL) may be the greatest collection of arms in one outfield.

Originally Published: June 11, 2004
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

Since its opening in 1955, Disneyland has drawn nearly 500 million visitors and grown from a mere theme park into an American institution known around the globe. The park covers 85 acres, has parking for 10,000 cars and employs 21,000 people (or almost as many people as are standing in line at the Pirates of the Caribbean on a summer day). Each day tens of thousands of people pass through its gates to enjoy the many rides, costumed characters, parades and fireworks of the "Happiest Place on Earth.''

Guillen
Guillen

Guerrero
Guerrero

The greatest attraction in Anaheim, however, are the arms of Angels outfielders Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen and Raul Mondesi. You know how amusement parks have those cartoon cutouts holding up a gloved paw with a warning that "You must be THIS high to go on this ride"? There should be a permanent Donald Duck cutout erected in the third base coaching box with a sign that reads: "Warning: Do not run on the Angels outfielders.''

"It makes you apt to hold runners up and play base-to-base baseball,'' Oakland catcher Damian Miller said of the trio. "It can be a real weapon.''

A weapon? The Angels have so many arms they should be paraded through Red Square on May Day.

Mondesi
Mondesi

Guerrero was named the best outfield arm of the '90s in Bill James Historical Abstract and has thrown out more runners from right field (58) than anyone else since 2000 as well. Mondesi gunned down 19 runners in 2001 and more than 100 in his career though he's been slowed lately by his legal troubles and a recent injury that put him on the disabled list ("Sorry, Mondesi World is closed -- Moose out front should have told you'').

Everyone knows how strong those two arms are but the best of the bunch may be attached to Guillen's shoulder in left field.

"Guillen has probably the best arm I've ever seen,'' said Miller, who handled plenty of his throws when both were in Arizona. "Strength and accuracy. Just the little time he was there, half a season, I don't know how many throws he had to me that were right there, one hop. He was always right on the base, good one-hoppers, easy to handle.

"I just remember that you had to be ready because his throw was coming. He's not afraid to show it off and he shouldn't be.''

"He is so underrated,'' Reds first baseman and former teammate Sean Casey said. "I remember last year he threw a guy out at the plate like four or five games in a row. There was no doubt the guy was going to score and he comes up with a line-drive strike to the plate to nail him each time. It was unbelievable. And then guys stopped running on him. 'All right, we're going to get thrown out if we keep this up.'

Guillen has probably the best arm I've ever seen.
A's catcher Damian Miller

"He has a cannon. Do not run on him.''

Many teams have had two outfielders with great arms. Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner, for instance, had great arms with the Mariners but Seattle could never settle on a left fielder. "There's usually a couple teams with two guys with above average arms but that's just two out of three,'' Miller said. "To get three out three, that's rare.''

So how does the Anaheim trio rank among the best of all-time? Well, it's a little early to draw comparisons. After all, they only played five games together in the outfielder before Mondesi got hurt. And with veteran Garret Anderson returning to the lineup Thursday, who knows how many games Guerrero, Guillen and Mondesi will play together in the future.

Anderson doesn't have an exceptionally strong arm but he's a good smart, fundamentally sound outfielder. And with him flanked by Guerrero and Guillen, the Angels still have an outfield worth standing in line to see, even if you're out of Fast Passes.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com