Saturday, March 8, 2014
Don Loun was a September call-up with Washington in 1964. He started two games, completed one, and ended up with a 1-1 record. In 13 innings he ended up with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP. That was probably the reason Topps put him on this card. At 24 years of age it was foreseeable that Loun would make his way back to the Bigs. He never did. Don had a bad year at Triple A in 1965. That set him on a course of bouncing back and forth between Triple A and Double A. He was never able to get his numbers low enough to get another crack with Washington. Loun left the Washington system after the 1968 season. He spent one more year with an independent Double A club before hanging up the spikes after the 1969 season.
Washington obtained Joe McCabe from the Twins in exchange for Ken Retzer in October of 1964. Joe started the 1964 season with Minnesota but appeared in only 14 games before being sent down to Double A. Apparently the Twins didn't care for his .158 batting average and .150 on-base percentage. I'm not sure I've ever seen an on-base percentage lower than a batting average. McCabe would follow the same pattern with the Senators in 1965. He started the season with the team and appeared in 14 games. That gave him 32 plate appearances, 11 more than the previous season. Unfortunately, Joe was unable to capitalize on his second chance. Washington took a look at his .185 batting average and .281 on-base percentage and shipped him down to Triple A for the rest of the year. Not willing to risk a third cycle, McCabe retired as a player following the 1965 season.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Lock was the franchise's first real star but his overall stats were more in the vein of Pete Incaviglia than a super-star. He never played in an All-Star game and received MVP consideration just one season, in 1964. He was the for-runner to Frank Howard though and for a few years was about all the power the Senators had.
In 1963 Don made 611 trips to the plate. He posted a .252 batting average and a .338 on-base percentage. Neither of those are particularly compelling numbers and neither was even best on the team. His 20 doubles were tied for most on the team. His 27 home runs, 82 RBI, and 70 walks were all team bests.
What gets Don Lock onto the list is not his numbers viewed in abstract. You have to take a look at those numbers while remembering that the Senators lost 106 games in 1963 and were outscored by their opponents 812-578. In light of that information it becomes surprising that Lock saw anything to hit once it became known he could.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
A quick trip to the GU/AU box nets this 2007 Upper Deck Spectrum autograph card of former Rangers prospect Jason Botts. As you can see from the front, the card is numbered 155/199.
I've got a couple of Botts' autographs and I like the way they look. I have no idea how you get Jason Botts out of that but it flows well and isn't obviously cramped. Of course Botts never panned out so the demand on his signing hand probably wasn't as heavy as on some other players. At some point I would like to get a through the mail or in person autograph from Jason but this one isn't leaving my collection anytime soon.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Fan favorite Pete O'Brien gets the 47th spot on the list for his 1986 season. O'Brien appears here on card 99 of the 1986 Topps set. Things weren't particularly joyful for Rangers fans going into the 1986 season. The team lost 99 games in 1985 and there didn't seem to be a lot of light at the end of the tunnel.
Pete O'Brien was the starting first baseman for Texas for several years, including 1986. He made 641 plate appearances that season, second only to Oddibe McDowell on the team. He posted a .290 batting average and a team best .385 on-base percentage. He also popped 23 doubles, three triples, and 23 home runs. That led to his scoring 86 runs and bumping in 90 RBI. Unusual for a power guy, he walked more than he struck out - 87 walks to 66 strikeouts.
O'Brien was also a pretty decent defender as well. In 1288.2 innings at first he saw 1350 chances and made just 11 errors. That left him with a .992 fielding percentage, just above the league average.
Pete got some MVP consideration for his performance in 1986. The team and the fans got some excitement. Partially due to O'Brien's season, the team won 87 games. That's not anyone's definition of an all-time great team but it was light years ahead of 1985.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Perry was also the workhorse of the staff. He made 34 starts (tied with Doyle Alexander for the most on the staff) and completed 13 of those games (second only to Bert Blyleven). He ended the season with a 15-12 record, a 3.37 ERA, and a 1.239 WHIP. Gaylord struck out 177 opposing batters while walking just 56.
While Perry had a good season in 1977 there was apparently some concern that he might not be able to keep performing to the level the Rangers needed. He would be 39 in 1978 and nobody had a crystal ball to see his career extending until he was 44 years old.
In one of the more mis-guided trades in Texas history, the Rangers sent Gaylord Perry to the San Diego Padres on January 25, 1978. They got pitcher Dave Tomlin and some cash from the Padres. On March 28, 1978 the Rangers sold Tomlin's contract to the Cincinnati Reds. All Texas had to show for the loss of Gaylord Perry was some cash in the bank.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Being a catcher in the Rangers' system in 1990 was a tough road if your name wasn't Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge was getting the playing time and was passing everyone up on the depth chart. The road was even tougher if you missed a season and had to return to Charlotte for a second stint on your return.
Niethammer was third on the team in the number of games he appeared behind the plate. Rodriguez was first of course and Michael Crespo was second with 22 games caught. Darren had just 14 games in as catcher. He made no errors in those 14 games but did allow two passed balls.
Darren made 245 trips to the plate in 1990 for Charlotte. He posted a .276 batting average and a .361 on-base percentage. Part of that on-base percentage was due to the fact that he walked 28 times while striking out just 24 times. While his five doubles and no other extra base hits showed a lack of power, it paid to have a player with plate discipline.
Apparently Texas realized Niethammer was not going to make it as a catcher. They must have liked him though and began using him at first base. He played in 52 games there, second only to Doug Cronk's 101. The move made sense, Cronk was stumbling badly and Niethammer might be able to take advantage of the situation. He committed four errors in 426 chances for a .991 fielding percentage.
Interestingly, Niethammer also pitched in two games for Charlotte in 1990, one as a starter and one as the final reliever in the game. The relief appearance is understandable - the team was either out of pitchers or was getting blown out and Darren came in to save the bullpen. I can't quite figure the start though, perhaps a double-header or an unexpected injury or call-up? In either case the pitching experience did not go well for Niethammer. In 3.1 innings he got shelled to the tune of a 16.20 ERA and a 2.400 WHIP. He might be able to move to first but he wasn't going to make the mound his permanent home.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Time to take a look at number 46 on T.R. Sullivan list of the Top 50 Seasons in Rangers History. Juicer Jose Canseco, seen here on card 304 of the 1994 Fleer set, gets the nod with his 1994 season.
Following his infamous pitching injury in 1993, Canseco came into the 1994 season on a tear. He was carrying a .282 batting average and a .386 on-base percentage through the 111 games he appeared in. He had 19 doubles, two triples, and 31 home runs. Those all contributed towards his 90 RBI and 88 runs scored.
Unfortunately for Canseco, the players strike ended the 1994 season early. He was unable to put up a full season of numbers. If he had been able to play the season out, it is likely 1994 would have been one of the best years of Jose's career. As it was he had to settle for numbers that most players would be happy with for a full season and some MVP consideration.