During his prime, Robin Ventura was an elite third baseman, capable of hitting 30 homeruns, driving in 100 runs and flashing Gold Glove caliber leather. With Frank Thomas, he gave the ChiSox a devastating power combo that allowed the Sox to climb the American League standings. A college star at OSU, Ventura was a first round pick who spent little time in the bushes.
Taken as the tenth pick in the nation in the 1988 amateur draft, Robin was up in Chicago a year later, enjoying a cup of coffee with the Pale Hose in 1989. The following year he was an everyday player, but didn’t have his breakout season until 1991. That campaign saw Ventura win the first of six Gold Glove Awards, as the left-handed hitting third baseman coupled his superior leather with solid run-production skills. He reached 100 RBI for the first time in ’91 (he was the only AL third baseman to drive in 100 runs) while also leading junior circuit hot corner custodians in homeruns.
An All-Star for the first time in 1992, Ventura paced American League third basemen in RBI while bringing home his second Gold Glove Award. A complete player, Robin could hit for power, a decent average, field his position with the best of them and also owned great plate discipline. He was the only third baseman in the Majors to draw 100 walks in 1993 as he and Thomas carried the White Sox to the Playoffs. Although they were beat by Toronto, Robin swatted a homerun and plated five mates.
Ventura put up good numbers in the strike shortened 1994 campaign and in ’95 he posted his fourth season with 90 or more RBI. Near the top of his game in 1996, he reached his career high with 34 homeruns while posting his second 100+ RBI campaign. A fourth Gold Glove came his way and he eclipsed 300 total bases for the first time in his career. Firmly established as a premier third baseman, Ventura looked forward to another solid season in 1997, but he had to wait for his campaign to start thanks to a broken leg sustained in Spring Training.
After an injury-plagued year in 1997, Robin bounced back in 1998 with another Gold Glove and 90 RBI season. With his contract expired, Ventura tested the free agent waters and signed a deal with the New York Mets. The shift to the National League didn’t negatively affect his hitting–rather, he had his greatest season. In his first year in the Big Apple, Ventura hit .301 with 32 homeruns and a career high 120 RBI. He won his sixth and final Gold Glove Award and came in sixth in the NL MVP vote. More importantly, leaving the White Sox enabled him to make it back to the Playoffs where his Mets were defeated in the NLCS by the Braves.
The Mets returned to the postseason in 2000 and Robin had five NLCS RBI against the Cardinals. The Mets clipped the Redbirds wings and faced off with the Yankees in an all New York World Series. Ventura’s Mets didn’t put up much of a fight, as he was one of just three Mets players to hit a homerun in the World Series.
When his numbers remained low in 2001, the Mets traded him to the Yankees for David Justice in December. The return to the American League helped Robin’s stats as he returned to his normal 90 RBI ways. The Yankees were beat by the Angels in the Division Series and the following year he was traded to the Dodgers where he played the infield corners in a reserve role. He ended his career after the 2004 season.
G 2,079/R 1,006/H 1,885/2B 338/3B 14/HR 294/RBI 1,182/SB 24/BB 1,075/SO 1,179/BA .267/SA .444/OBP .362