This was a transition year for the Angels. This is two years after they appeared in the ALCS losing to Baltimore, and one year before they would lose again in the ALCS to the Brewers.
They made many changes before the season and this is reflected in the Topps Traded set which has 10 Angel cards in the 132 card set.
New to the Angels in '81 were Geoff Zahn, Rick Burleson, Butch Hobson, John D'Acquisto, Juan Beniquez, Fred Lynn, Steve Renko, Jesse Jefferson, Bill Travers, Ed Ott, Doug Rau, and Ken Forsch. Gone from the 1980 squad are Mark Clark, Carney Lansford, Rick Miller, Joe Rudi, Frank Tanana, John Montague, Jim Barr, Dave LaRoche, and Dickie Thon. That is quite a turnover of players.
Looking at this starting lineup, how did this team have a losing season. You have an infield of Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew, Bobby Grich, Rick Burleson, and Butch Hobson. Fred Lynn, Dan Ford, and Brian Downing make up the infield. Don Baylor was the DH. This seems like a solid lineup on paper, but looking at the stats for 1981, all the players received from Boston during the off season fell off a cliff. Also the pitching wasn't very good. That is probably the difference between the 1979/1982 teams and the 1981 team.
Update 1: added O-Pee-Chee cards to checklist on 5/31/2010
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