Thursday, March 6, 2008
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:28 PM | Permalink
Pat Dodson
Pat Dodson, 1987 Topps

Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Debut: 9/5/86
Final Game: 6/22/88

Career Line: .202/.314/.424

I have sometimes wondered what qualifies a player to earn a title on thier baseball card. Sometimes it is obvious, like Andy Benes was a #1 draft pick, so that's an easy one. But what about the ambiguous "future stars" title?

Pat Dodson came up through the Red Sox organization. He was a solid Minor League player. But in 3 "seasons" at the major league level he only had 99 career at bats in which he hit .202/.314/.424. However, those career stats are a little inflated thanks to a 12 at bat debut where he had 5 hits, 3 for extra bases, including 1 home run.

Was it that 12 at bat, 9 game stretch during the fall of '86 that earned him the future stars status? His OPS+ for those 9 games was 265.

Dodson played sparingly for 3 seasons. He was granted free agency in 1988, and never played an MLB game again. He appeared in just 52 games. At the Minor league level he hit a lot of home runs and he walked a lot. He didn't have a great average, but he was a typical 1980s power hitter--low average, big power. Once in the Big Show he struck out a lot. 33 times in 99 at bats.

On a somewhat positive note, he finished his career with no errors in the field, and never grounded into a double play. I suppose that is some saving grace to a 99 at bat career?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
posted by Grizzly Adam at 7:35 PM | Permalink
Andy Benes
Andy Benes, 1989 Topps

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 8/11/89
Final Game: 9/29/02

Career Line: 155-139 3.97

Andy Benes was the number one pick in the 1988 amateur draft. His junior year in college he was 16-3. He struck out 188 batters in 146 innings and walked only 36. He pitched 13 complete games, 8 of which were shutouts. He was the Baseball America college pitcher of the year.

He made his debut in 1989 for the Padres, and spent 5 years pitching in San Diego. His best years were in St. Louis in the late 90s, where he pitched for a winning team. But despite pitching for bad Padres teams, he still posted resectable WHIP's and K/9 ratios. He was above average in K/9 throughout his 14 year career. In 1995 he averaged just over 1K per inning, finishing the campaign with a 9.56 K/9. In 1994 he led the NL in Strikeouts with 189.

His career ERA+ was 104. Baseball Reference lists some of his comparables as: Kevin Appier, Ron Darling, Darryl Kile and Al Leiter.

He pitched his final game in 2002 at age 34.

Monday, March 3, 2008
posted by Grizzly Adam at 7:34 PM | Permalink
Brook Fordyce
Brook Fordyce, 1991 Upper Deck

Debut: 4/26/95
Final Game: 10/2/04

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Career Line: .258/.309/.388

It is spring training time, and for many young prospects it marks a chance to win a spot on the big club. I thought I'd take a look at some prospects of the past, and how they did in the Major Leagues.

Baseball cards are notorious for labeling players. Especially young prospects. "Future Star", "Top Prospect", "Rated Rookie", "#1 Draft Pick" and other labels are often plastered on the front of these player cards. As if expectations are not already high enough for these players, card companies raise the bar by telling all of us with the use of fancy graphics, that "hey you better hold onto this card, because this kid is going to do great things!" It is great marketing. And in hindsight, these sort of cards are some of my favorites. Because the fact is, most of these so labeled players are lucky if they live up to the hype. Many fade away, and still some have legitimate careers. I love finding old prospect cards, and taking a closer look at the careers these players had.

I came across this card of Brook Fordyce. I remembered the name, but nothing of his career. A little research revealed why. His promising career never really happened. He bounced around the league, scoring multi-year contracts and promises of a starting job, but never really caught on. He was hampered by injuries, he didn't hit for power, he didn't walk much, but didn't strike out much either. He had 148 career extra base hits. His career OPS+ was 82.

He said, after signing a 3 year deal with Baltimore in 2001:

“I love the game, I have a lot of enthusiasm. I play the game hard. I come to play every day. That’s the way the game should be played. As long as you’re in the field, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. You should want to play hard. Hustle is part of the game.”

That's the same quote we hear a lot from mediocre players. Talk of hustle, hard work, playing the game "right". The fact is however, Fordyce just wasn't all that good. His best season was 2000, the year he split between the White Sox and Orioles. He hit .301/.341/.507 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI--all career highs.

He hung on for one more year with Tampa Bay after that 3 year deal expired in 2003, but it was his last in baseball. By age 34 he was done.