Introducing… Jim Wynn

Before there was Biggio and Bagwell, the face of the Houston Astros was a short center fielder named Jim Wynn.  Dubbed “The Toy Cannon” because of the powerful arm his slight body boasted, Wynn was nearly the perfect 5-tool ballplayer.  Wynn clubbed 291 career homers (he had the power), he swiped 225 career bases (he had the speed), he had 76 outfield assists (he had the arm) but his one weakness was his rather low batting average.  However, his walk-drawing capabilities offset his low BA because they gave him an on-base percentage many .300 hitters would like to have.

Originally signed by the Reds in 1962, The Toy Cannon didn’t last long in the Cincinnati chain.  He was taken in the expansion draft by the Houston Colt .45s.  He would be the face of the franchise on into the 1970s.  The young outfielder was used sparingly by Houston in 1963 and 1964 but was given regular duty in 1965.  Wynn showed off his five-tool abilities that year by clubbing 22 homeruns, swiping 43 bases and hitting .275 with a .371 on-base percentage.  His 43 steals were good for third in the NL and he topped senior circuit center fielders with 84 walks.

An injury limited The Toy Cannon to just 105 games in 1966 but he came back in 1967 to enjoy quite a sensational season.  Wynn topped Major League center fielders in homeruns (37) and RBI (107) and led NL center fielders in runs scored (102) and slugging average (.495).  He made his first All-Star appearance that year and was awarded a few MVP votes even though he played for a rather poor Houston team.  He followed up his mammoth ’67 season with 26 dingers in ’68.  That year he also paced National League outfielders in walks.

His finest year came in 1969 when he showed baseball, much like Eddie Yost before him, that a man can reach the .400 on-base plateau without hitting .270.  The Toy Cannon paced the NL with 148 walks which boosted his on-base percentage to the stellar regions of .436.  But unlike Eddie “The Walking Man” Yost, Wynn had power to spare.  Jim led Major League center fielders with 33 homeruns and finished third in the NL with 113 runs scored.  Wynn was the only NL center fielder to slug over .500.

Jim was the only 20 HR/20 SB outfielder in the National League in 1970.  His 106 walks pushed his on-base percentage up to .394 and he just narrowly missed slugging .500 for the second straight season.  After a forgettable ’71 season, The Toy Cannon returned with his fuse lit in 1972.  That year Wynn led National League outfielders in walks and finished third in the NL with 117 runs scored.  He enjoyed his seventh year with 20 or more long balls in 1973.

Although Jim clubbed 20 homers in ’73, his batting average dipped to .220 and the Astros traded him to the Dodgers for veteran southpaw Claude Osteen.  Jim, who had never seen postseason action in Houston, made it to the World Series his first year out of Texas.  During the regular season, Wynn led National League center fielders with 32 homeruns and 108 RBI.  He posted his fourth 100+ runs scored season and launched a homerun in the World Series.  His Dodgers eventually lost the Fall Classic to the powerhouse A’s of Oakland. 

An All-Star again in 1975, The Toy Cannon, who hit a modest .248, nevertheless eclipsed the .400 on-base mark due to his 110 walks.  After the season he was packaged in a trade to the Braves with Tom Paciorek, Jerry Royster and Lee Lacy for slugger Dusty Baker and infielder Ed Goodson.  In his lone year in Georgia, Wynn’s 127 walks led the National League.  He split the 1977 season between the Yankees and Brewers.  His batting average had finally fallen below .200 and his elite batting eye couldn’t keep him around the league.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,920/R 1,105/H 1,665/2B 285/3B 39/HR 291/RBI 964/BB 1,224/SO 1,427/SB 225/BA .250/SA .436/OBP .366

www.astrosdaily.com

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Solid on-base percentage aside, .250 hitters don’t get much time in HOF debate. Wynn should though. He scored over 1,100 runs while playing most of his career for doormat organizations and was a great speed/power combo guy. But that .250 career batting average Jimmy has will serve as an anvil. His HOF chances are very weak.

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