Sunday, March 16, 2008

By Adam Dodge, Senior Writer

Chone Figgins spent all but the last day of April on the disabled list, batted .156 in May and finished the season in an 0-for-21 slump. How then, one may ask, could 2007 have possibly been a breakout season for the Angels' de facto third baseman?

From May 31 until Sept. 22 — the time between his less-than-stellar bookends — Figgins batted .403 (135/335), a span of 83 games where the speedy lead off man reached base in 46 percent of his plate appearances. Despite his early and late woes, Figgins finished with a .330/.393/.432 season, his batting average the seventh highest in Angels history. He also earned MVP votes for the third time in his career. Not too shabby for a guy that’s never made an American League All-Star team.

If 2007 was the year Figgins entered baseball stardom, then it was the night of June 18 that his star shined the brightest. Figgins went 6-for-6, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 10-9 comeback victory over the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium.

And as if just going 6-for-6 wasn’t spectacular enough, Figgins’ final hit was a ninth inning, walk-off triple down the right field line, scoring Reggie Willits from first base to complete the Angels’ comeback.

"I was trying to catch Reggie. That way, at least I'd know he would score," Figgins said with a laugh.

Perhaps ending the game in such dramatic fashion was the only thing that prevented Figgins from a 7-for-7 or 8-for-8 night — Astros pitchers sure couldn’t slow him down. As it stood, Figgins’ six hits in one game tied Garret Anderson’s team record, which had been set in 1996.

Figgins finished his brilliant night with four singles, a double and his game-ending triple.

"This is one of those special games," Figgins said. "You can't explain it. You just stay within yourself. The thing about it was that the game was close, so it made you concentrate even more to get a hit."

It was indeed a special game for Figgins, one that highlighted the best month of his relatively young career. Figgins collected a Major League best 53 hits in June, the most by any player in Angels' history during one calendar month. Figgins also led Major League baseball in June with a .461 batting average.

But it was his 1.000 average on June 18 that landed him on our list.

“I don't think I ever did that in a video game, much less in a professional game,” Figgins said.
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