As of this writing – February 9th, 2018 – this career bullpen arm has played for one more team than Edwin Jackson. He has won one World Series ring and pitched 23.1 career postseason innings, relatively impressive for never starting and pitching in 10 different series, amounting to a little less than an inning per appearance. In 951.0 regular season IP, he amassed 15.4 WAR, striking out 10.8 hitters per 9 with a 1.238 WHIP. Despite a lack of eye-popping traditional stats – 59-50 W-L, 3.78 ERA – his 119 ERA+ suggests he was a valuable weapon, validating his long and winding career with numerous teams. Amongst his myriad of different teams, he has worn six uniform numbers. This righty had a three-pitch repertoire comprised of a fourseam fastball, slider, and curve, relying heavily on his fastball at a bit over 81% usage for his career. You have multiple guesses if needed; half as many guesses as teams he played for.
This player’s nickname is a lunar occurrence of about once every 2.7 years. His last name is also relatively rare and he shares it – no blood relation I’m aware of – with a left-handed power forward who played 13 seasons in the NBA. Working as a clerk at a liquor store in the offseason, he was shot twice by burglars fleeing from a nearby crime scene, but recovered in time to make it to Spring Training. That year he went 15-6 as a starter for the Oakland A’s – his best single season record – while only striking out 86 of the 804 batters he faced over 194.1 innings. That season initially looked like his best by traditional stats, but only his third best by the Wins Above Replacement metric at 1.9 (according to Baseball Reference). That season and the next two following seasons he made it to the World Series, and won a ring, with those Athletics. After 13 seasons (fun bit of synchronicity with his NBA name “kin”), he had a career ERA+ of 89. Can you name him?
In the Integration Era of Major League Baseball – 1947 to the present – only five players have amassed 400 or more home runs, 300+ stolen bases, and driven in more than 1500 runners. Aside from our mystery man, the other four players are Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, and Andre Dawson. Of the five, this switch-hitter is the only one from Puerto Rico. He has the fewest hits (2725) on that short list, but the second most doubles (565). Name him in 15 seconds flat or I pour your beer out on the floor before you can drink it all.
An impressively long career of 17 major league seasons did not afford this pitcher much fame in the statistics department. Used primarily as a reliever – he only started 108 of his 828 career appearances – and not even a high-strikeout fireballer at that, with measly 5.4 K/9 and 1.5 K:BB ratios. If we go by the WAR metric, his career 4.9 WAR averages out to 0.288 WAR per season, making this mop-up, middle reliever the very definition of “replacement player.” It’s amazing how long an average reliever can stretch out a career, but he almost ended it one fateful NLCS Game 4. After blowing the lead for his team by serving up a fat meatball to Carlos Beltran for a home run, he nearly gave the next batter a concussion when he hung a pitch just over his head. What happened after the end of that inning may well be his most (in)famous moment as a major leaguer. Once in the dugout, he slammed his (non-pitching) fist into the bullpen phone, breaking his hand. He and his team would still persevere to get to the World Series that year (his second Series appearance and not a ring to show for it). For his career, he went 88-82 with a 4.46 ERA, 1.498 WHIP and a laughable 842 strikeouts across 6222 batters faced. Who’s this genius?
This big first baseman played from the 60’s through to the early 80’s, crushing 354 home runs with four different clubs (two in the NL and two in the AL). His 354 home runs rank 8th during the span of his career and he outpaced Willie McCovey by 38 RBIs in that time as well. His 116 OPS+ slots him in the Top 25 for his career span. A three-time All-Star who twice cracked the Top 10 in MVP voting – once in each league for symmetry’s sake – may have been ahead of his time with his disregard for the shame associated with high strikeout totals. He has been quoted saying, “I deliberately try to hit a home run every time up. That is what they pay me for,” when confronted about all his whiffs. He would have fit right into today’s style of hitting approach and it’s too bad we don’t have StatCast data for him. His 1570 strikeouts are fifth most for his era, but his 487 walks are nearly half as many as the next guy on the list, Tony Perez. Who is he?
I was born on January 24th, 1964 and amassed 9.6 WAR over 7 major league seasons. During that time, I had a win-loss record of 27-25, but never started a single game at the major league level. Over 477.0 innings pitched, I averaged a robust 12.2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched and 2.43 FIP with a 1.195 career WHIP. Nicknamed “Officer” as part of an infamous bullpen, I once fought my manager in the clubhouse while local television cameras were rolling. I was a two-time All-Star and NLCS MVP and I also have one World Series ring. What hotheaded reliever am I?
Andrew McCutchen is 10th on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ career WAR leaderboard, as of the time of this writing, with 40.0 bWAR. Barry Bonds is 7th on that list with 50.1. Our player in question is 4th with 64.0, ahead of Willie Stargell, who has 57.5. This nine-time All-Star is in the Hall of Fame and owns a batting title (hit .385 the year he won). His .318 lifetime average is second all-time to Honus Wagner for shortstops. Even as a shortstop, he had an amazing 3.39:1 BB:K ratio. Don’t forget, folks, Barry Bonds, the all-time leader in walks, has a career 1.66 BB:K ratio for some perspective. At the age of 31, partially due to his issues with management and the Reserve Clause, he retired and was a cattle rancher in North Carolina for four years before returning to baseball for a mere 129 games spread over two seasons. His first year back out of retirement and ranching, he was on a pennant-winning Dodgers team. Who is this dude?!?