Introducing… Todd Zeile

A man of many uniforms, Todd Zeile played for eleven teams over the course of his career.  The power-hitting third baseman set a record–since tied by Matt Stairs–for hitting homers with the highest number of teams.  Although he was well-travelled, Todd Zeile was a valuable run producer who drove in over 1,100 runs.

Originally drafted in the second round of the 1986 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Zeile was groomed as a catcher.  The Redbirds had Tony Pena behind the dish when they first called up Todd but his youthful presence allowed the Redbirds to let Pena leave after the 1989 season.  The Cardinals then inserted Todd as their regular catcher in 1990 and he finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting.  As a freshman, Zeile already showcased his solid power by leading NL receivers in homeruns.

But Zeile didn’t last long as a backstop.  In 1991, the Cardinals converted him to the hot corner and he led National League third basemen in doubles that year.  After a down year in ’92, Todd rebounded in 1993 with his best RBI total.  That year Todd and Matt Williams were the only third basemen in the Major Leagues to drive in 100 runs.  In the strike shortened 1994 season, Todd clubbed 19 homeruns.  Then, the travelling began.

Todd learned to keep his suitcases packed when the Cardinals traded him to division rival Chicago Cubs during the 1995 season for pitcher Mike Morgan–the only pitcher in baseball history to wear more uniforms than Todd.  After the year he signed a free agent deal with the Phillies but was sent in a trade to the Orioles, with slugger Pete Incaviglia, and was able to take part in his first postseason.  The mark of a champion is often gauged by his October success and Zeile was a postseason star.  In the 1996 ALCS, Todd launched three homeruns with a .364 batting average, but in a losing cause. 

After the season Todd signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and set a career high with 31 homeruns.  During the ’98 season he was involved in the biggest trade of the year when LA sent him and future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza to the Marlins for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Charles Johnson.  The Marlins quickly unloaded Zeile to Texas for prospects.  With the Rangers, Todd got back to postseason play.  He hit .333 in the ’98 ALCS.  Texas was embarrassed in the series as Todd was the only Ranger regular to hit over .222.

From 1996 to 1998, Todd played for five teams.  Able to breathe a sigh of relief, Texas retained him in 1999 as he didn’t have to worry about packing his suitcases that year.  Zeile had one of his best years in 1999 when he hit .293 and led American League third basemen with 41 doubles.  He joined the Mets in 2000 and was able to play in his only World Series.  Zeile’s hot October bat carried New York to the Fall Classic as he led all NLCS participants with eight RBI.  Just like his days in Texas, Todd seemed to be the only player on the roster able to hit in the cool October weather.  In the 2000 World Series, Todd hit a robust .400 but the Mets hit a combined .229 and lost to the Yankees.

Zeile played one more year with the Mets before moving off to Colorado.  In his last good year, Todd hit 18 homers with 87 RBI for the 2002 Rockies.  He used that season to sign a free agent deal with the Yankees where his career began to slide.  He finished up his playing days with the 2004 Mets.

THE NUMBERS

G 2,158/R 986/H 2,004/2B 397/3B 23/HR 253/RBI 1,110/SB 53/BB 945/SO 1,279/BA .265/SA .423/OBP .346

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