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25 years ago today: Angels rookie Wally Joyner hits 11th, 12th homers

May 12, 2011, 6:45 PM EDT

wally joyner 86 topps

A brief trip back to “Wally World.”

23-year-old first baseman Wally Joyner was probably the biggest story of the early part of the 1986 season, hitting homer after homer on his way to becoming the first rookie voted into the All-Star Game.

And it was a big surprise. Joyner was well regarded as a prospect after being taken in the third round in the 1983 draft, but he hit exactly 12 homers in both of his full seasons in the minors. In the PCL in 1985, he finished with a modest .283/.363/.440 line and 73 RBI in 477 at-bats.

That kind of line probably wouldn’t have gotten him a gig in 2011. The Angels, though, believed the power spike he experienced in Puerto Rico over the winter was for real and chose to have him replace future Hall of Famer Rod Carew as their first baseman headed into the 1986 season.

Joyner was a star from day one. He homered in his second game as a major leaguer, and he ended April with a .333-6-16 line. The first half of May proved even better: he followed his two-homer game against the Red Sox on May 12 with another one four days later. 36 games into his rookie season, he was hitting .316/.361/.645 and leading the majors with 15 homers and 37 RBI.

Joyner, though, was unable to maintain the pace. He hit just seven homers over the rest of the season and finished second to Jose Canseco in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. Worse, after a great start in the ALCS against Boston, he went down with a leg infection, preventing him from playing in the final four games as the Angels were eliminated. He was 5-for-11 with a homer and two doubles in the first three games.

Joyner went on to have his best season as a sophomore in 1987, finishing with 34 homers and 117 RBI. He remained a valuable player in subsequent seasons, particularly in 1991, his last year with the Angels before he signed with the Royals, and in 1997, when he hit .327 for the Padres. However, he never went to a second All-Star Game.

Also, while Joyner was thought of very highly as a defensive first baseman, he failed to win a Gold Glove. The Yankees’ Don Mattingly had a stranglehold on the award at the time.

In 2001, Joyner returned to the Angels for a farewell tour and hit .243 in 161 at-bats. He ended his career with a .289/.362/.440 line, 204 homers and 1,106 RBI in 16 seasons.

  1. banksatdixie - May 13, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Mormons…

  2. Chris Fiorentino - May 13, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    And today, if his agent was Scott Bor-ass, he would be advised to wait it out for the big deal coming instead of signing the $80 million dollar 7 year deal for long-term security and he would have cost himself tens of millions of dollars. These guys have to realize that for every Mark Texiera there are hundreds of guys who come up, dazzle, then fizzle before they could make the big contract.

    • banksatdixie - May 13, 2011 at 9:35 AM

      It really is a crime that these players are making some money. The MLB should take a page out of the NFL’s playbook and let the owners pocket more money……

      #sarcasm

    • slammy11 - May 21, 2011 at 4:22 AM

      His agent WAS Scott Boras

  3. wlschneider09 - May 13, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    The point is not completely invalid. How much Hosmer hype are we hearing at the moment, and five games into his career we have not one but two posts dedicated to the concept of tying him up for a looooooonnnnnnnng term contract. If you look at minor league stats (where you have enough of a sample size to actually draw some meaningful conclusions) Hosmer looks fine, but not that much better in than Joyner:

    Joyner .303/.382/.456 in 1127 minor league abs, 27 hr
    Hosmer .298/.378/.483 in 908 minor league abs, 26 hr

    In my opinion, we get way too much hype about young players in every sport these days. Look how much time and press is dedicated to the NFL draft.

    Let the flaming begin….

    • BC - May 13, 2011 at 10:06 AM

      Your point is valid. Jay Payton had a couple sick years in the minors. Ended up being a decent player in the majors but not crazy-good by any stretch.

  4. BC - May 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    First rookie voted into the All Star game? Fred Lynn wasn’t voted in for 1975? He raked that year.

    • slammy11 - May 21, 2011 at 4:16 AM

      Joyner was the first rookie selected by Fan Balloting.

  5. kinggeorge96 - May 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Speaking of Don Mattingly, anyone remember Kevin Maas? He came up in 90 or 91 I believe, and everyone was ready to push Donnie out to pasture. Maybe not push him out, but with that balky back, he was seen as the heir apparent. The kid hit like 20-25 homeruns that year, even set some records for fewest at bats to hit homeruns to start a career. Don’t ask me what those milestones were exactly.. 10 homeruns 15 homeruns.. something like that. But as quick as he came he was gone. The following year he did ok, the year after I think he got the boot… if it was today, what are the odds he would’ve gotten the same talk about locking him up? Seems that it would’ve been a good idea for him! There’s a fine balance between should you or shouldn’t you…

  6. slammy11 - May 21, 2011 at 4:20 AM

    This article is full of errors. Joyner was selected in the FIRST Round, The #3 pick overall. He was also the first rookie selected to the All Star game by Fan Balloting. He was Co-Champion with Darryl Strawberry for the 1986 Homerun Derby at the All Star Game in Houston.

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