Monday, April 1, 2019
King Fish - 1993 Topps All-Star Rookie Outfielder Tim Salmon
Last week I covered Mr. Marlin, and this week it's "King Fish," Angels outfielder Tim Salmon. Salmon was a no-brainer for the Topps All-Star Rookie Roster, winning the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year award with 31 homers and a .283 batting average.
Salmon was already swimming on the Angels' sonar when he was drafted in 1989. The SoCal kid had already been drafted once before in 1986 by the Braves, but Salmon opted to go to school instead, attending Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. He is the school's All-Time leader in Homers, runs scored, and RBI. His #10 was retired in 2002, and he was named to the GCU Hall of Fame in 2010. He still holds an NAIA record for walks in a season, drawing 81 free passes in 1989. His patience at the plate would continue throughout his career, with a .385 OBP in his 14 major league seasons. He'd play in the Cape Cod league in the summer of 1988 along with 39 other future major leaguers, possibly the best season in that league's history.
In his first 2 pro seasons, Salmon had some bad luck with a pair of beanings. The second pitch, in 1990, shattered his jaw and put him on the shelf for 2 months. Undeterred, Salmon made quick work of the low minors and swam swiftly upstream to become the 1992 Minor League Player of the year. His 31 homers in 1993 were impressive enough, but he would hit 30+ homers again in '95, '96, and '97. He joined Don Baylor as the only other Angel to hit 30+ homers in consecutive seasons.
His 1995 season was perhaps his best. Following a strike shortened 1994 in which he had a 132 OPS+ but only played in 100 games, Salmon would tip the scales in his favor as one of the best outfield bats in the American League. He would win a Silver Slugger award while posting career highs in batting Average, OBP, Homers, Hits, Runs Scored, and total bases. He sported a gaudy 165 OPS+, and racked up 6.6 WAR.
Salmon would drive in even more runs in 1997 (a career high 129 RBI), and ultimately became the Angels' All-Time leader in homers and walks. After a power packed 2000, he would have a rough 2001, with career lows in many major categories as he played through some nagging injuries. Before the season he had signed a 4 year extension with the now Anaheim Angels, nearly taking an offer to play with the Diamonbacks instead.
He may have wanted to be a part of the Diamonbacks' 2001 championship team, but instead he was able to be a part of a very special 2002 Angels team, blasting 22 homers and being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year. He would hit 2 more homers in the Game 2 of the World Series against the Giants, and the Angels would capture their first Championship thanks to the heroics of one of their greatest players. Tim Salmon was never a member of an All-Star Roster, the AL was overcrowded with talented outfielders. Consider his best season of 1995 - the starters were Kirby Puckett, Kenny Lofton, and Albert Belle. That meant Ken Griffey Jr settled for a reserve spot, along with Manny Ramirez, Paul O'Neill, and Salmon's teammate Jim Edmonds. He remains the Angels' All-Time leader in homers and walks, and is second for RBI and runs scored behind Garret Anderson. There's another fish out there gaining on him in the Angels' record books, but Salmon remains the King Fish.