Monthly Archives: February 2011

Although he didn’t have the glove of Brooks Robinson or the high average of George Brett, Parrish was one of the better slugging third basemen of his time.  A fixture at the hot corner for the Expos before Tim Wallach forced Montreal’s hand, Larry hardly played third after his trade to the Rangers.  An everyday third baseman in the National League, Texas made Parrish a corner outfielder/designated hitter.  Although he often finished high in the errors department among hot corner custodians, Larry did lead his position peers in putouts during the 1981 season.

Signed by the Expos in 1972, Larry got his first look in the Majors in 1974.  He only appeared in 25 games for the Expos that year and was thus still eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award in ’75.  Parrish hit a solid .274 with 32 doubles as a freshman which enabled him to finish third in ROTY voting behind John Montefusco and Hall of Famer Gary Carter–his Montreal teammate.  The next two years Larry struggled to live up to his rookie promise and was in jeopardy of losing his job until he established himself in 1978.  He hit .277 with 39 doubles that year as only stars George Brett and Pete Rose topped his two-bag total among Major League third basemen.

Parrish had a terrific season in 1978 but he was even better in ’79.  Named to his first All-Star Team, Larry was the only National Leaguer to reach 30 homeruns and 30 doubles.  A .300 hitter for the first time, he finished fourth in MVP voting as Montreal surprised the National League with a fine 95-65 record.  But his numbers fell in 1980 and the player’s strike in ’81 kept everybody’s stats below par.  After the 1981 campaign, Montreal dealt Parrish to the Rangers and his days manning the hot corner came to a close. 

With Buddy Bell entrenched at third in Texas, skipper Don Zimmer moved Parrish to right field.  Texas finished the year with 98 losses but Parrish had a decent season.  With the transition to the American League over the next year, Larry blossomed as one of the junior circuit’s top sluggers.  The Rangers shocked everybody by jumping up to third place in 1983 as Larry paced the team in homeruns and RBI.  But the Rangers returned to the basement in ’84 despite Parrish’s brilliant season.  He finished second in the AL with 42 doubles and had his first 100 RBI season.  Texas as a team posted 618 RBI during the ’84 campaign as Larry drove in 101 of those runs. 

An injury in 1985 kept Parrish out of the lineup for a time but he rebounded in 1986 with a 28 HR/94 RBI season in the Lone Star State.  The Rangers started to win under Bobby Valentine in 1986 as Larry teamed with young slugging phenoms Ruben Sierra and Pete Incaviglia.  With solid protection in the lineup, Parrish had another 100-RBI season in 1987.  Used as the Rangers primary DH, Parrish made his last All-Star Team while he set his single season highwater mark in homeruns with 32.  But his brilliant season wasn’t an omen of things to come.  He broke out of the gate feebly in 1988 and Texas released him when he hit .190 in over 60 games.  He caught on with Boston and helped them make the postseason but they were defeated by Oakland in the ALCS.  Parrish then spent two years in Japan before ending his playing days. 


G 1,891/R 850/H 1,789/2B 360/3B 33/HR 256/RBI 992/SB 30/BB 529/SO 1,359/BA .263/OBP .318/SA .439

Perhaps the greatest defensive infielder in baseball history, Terry Turner was a mainstay in Cleveland during the Deadball Era.  Nicknamed “Cotton Top” because of his light blond hair, Turner could fill in at any infield position and field it flawlessly.  As a shortstop, Terry led the American League in fielding percentage three times.  When Ray Chapman was called up to Cleveland Turner moved over to third base and promptly led the junior circuit in fielding percentage three times at the hot corner. 

Turner was originally signed by the powerhouse Pirates in 1901, but with a full roster of the game’s best (Honus Wagner and Tommy Leach held down Terry’s best positions) he was sent back to the bushes after a brief trial.  Cotton Top became a star in the American Association and his services were in demand.  The Cleveland Indians (then called the Naps) acquired his services and brought him up in 1904.  In his first full year at the highest level, his double-play partner was the American League’s finest player: Nap Lajoie.

Turner missed a little action due to injury as a rookie but in 1905 he led Cleveland in games played and RBI.  Terry was the only shortstop in the American League to top 60 RBI–he had 72.  However, Turner’s offense always took a backseat to his defense.  In 1906 he paced shortstops in fielding percentage and assists.  Over the course of his career, Turner posted a fielding percentage at short 21 points above league average and at third base his fielding percentage was a whopping thirty points above average. 

In 1907, Turner again led shortstops in fielding percentage but the following year he would miss a large portion of the season to injury.  Health would be a concern for Cotton Top again in 1909.  When he returned to everyday duty in 1910, Terry led the Cleveland club with 31 stolen bases.  He and Lajoie easily set the pace for American League double play duos as they led such tandems in runs scored in 1910.  Cotton Top’s glove was beyond stellar that year.  He posted an unheard of .973 fielding percentage at short while the average mark for the position that season was just .924.  Had there been Gold Gloves issued during the Deadball Era, Turner’s den would have been full of them.

When Ivy Olson came to Cleveland, Turner moved over to the hot corner in 1911 and promptly led that position in fielding percentage his first year as a regular third baseman.  With rookie phenom Ray Chapman in town by 1912, Cotton Top’s days at short were over, but it bothered Terry little because he established himself, overnight, as the top defensive third baseman in the circuit.  He led third basemen in fielding percentage in 1911, 1912 and 1914.  In the latter campaign, he also led the American League with 38 sacrifices.  The Indians looked to be on the right course at this time as Shoeless Joe Jackson was brought up and hit close to .400.  However, aside from Guy Morton, Cleveland’s pitching staff wasn’t spectacular so Jackson was traded to Chicago for help and the Indians wouldn’t make a run until Turner’s career was over.

After the trade of Shoeless Joe, Cleveland finished seventh (out of eight teams) in 1915.  They moved up to sixth in 1916 as Turner led Cleveland’s infield in batting average.  Although Tris Speaker had replaced Jackson in the pasture, Cleveland still had one of the worst pitching staffs in the Majors.  When Turner’s career was nearing its close, the Indians started to make their push.  Relegated to backup duty in 1917, Turner helped out in a reserve capacity as Cleveland finally got the arms they needed out of Jim Bagby and Stan Coveleski.  His last year in Cleveland was 1918 when they moved into second place.  He finished out his career with the last place A’s in 1919 and missed out on Cleveland’s championship season of 1920.


G 1,659/R 699/H 1,499/2B 207/3B 77/HR 8/RBI 528/SB 256/BA .253/OBP .308/SA .318

One of the most dominating pitchers of the 1950s, Turley falls into the class of “effectively wild” pitchers.  Although he had trouble finding the dish at times, Bullet Bob’s mound presence was only magnified by his here-today-gone-tomorrow accuracy.  Many batters were afraid to dig in against Turley and Bob used this to his advantage.  Over the course of his career, he led the American League four times in fewest hits allowed over nine innings and had as many Top Five finishes in strikeouts.

Originally signed by the St. Louis Browns, Bullet Bob was a sensation in the Texas League where he set a single game strikeout record.  The Brownies brought up their flame-throwing star for a one-game trial in 1951 as he was tabbed with the loss in his Major League debut.  But America was engaged in the Korean War and Turley left the diamond to help Uncle Sam.  It was an inopportune time for Bullet Bob because he was in his early twenties and had shown enough promise to make the Browns roster.  Had the military not taken some time away from Bob, his numbers would be a little more impressive.

After his military discharge, Bullet Bob returned to baseball and showed the Browns just how dominating he could be.  He surrendered just 39 base hits in just over 60 innings of work which gave him an amazing 5.8 hits allowed per nine innings of work ratio.  But that was just a small sample size as Turley’s breakout year was just around the corner.  After the 1953 season the Browns relocated to Baltimore and became the Orioles.  In the Orioles first season Turley led the league in strikeouts and fewest hits allowed over nine innings while making his first All-Star Game.  But, Bullet Bob also led the league in walks–he issued 181 free passes in 247 innings of work.  Given his alarmingly high walk total, he wasn’t in Baltimore the following season.

Traded to the Yankees in one of the largest two-team swaps ever made, Bullet Bob and sixteen other players changed uniforms.  The top catch for Baltimore in the trade was power-slugging catcher Gus Triandos.  A 17-game winner his first year in the Bronx, Turley made his second All-Star appearance and again led the league in fewest hits allowed over nine innings.  But the move to New York didn’t help him find accuracy–he paced the junior circuit with 177 walks.  Despite his high walk total he did fan 210 batters, which was good for second in the league.  He ended a terrible 1956 season on a high note in the World Series when he worked eleven innings against the Dodgers and only coughed up four base hits.

Back on track in 1957, Turley led the AL in fewest hits allowed over nine innings again and he also had the best strikeout per inning pitched ratio in the junior circuit.  He won a game in the World Series but the Braves were able to top the Yankees and took home the flag.  The Bronx Bombers got their revenge the next season when Bullet Bob had his best year.  An All-Star for the third time, Bullet Bob led the American League in wins, complete games, winning percentage and fewest hits allowed over nine innings.  For his exceptional worksheet, Turley won the Cy Young Award and came in second in MVP voting.  He won a pair of games in the Fall Classic as the Yankees got revenge on Milwaukee who beat them the year before.

But that 1958 season would be Bullet Bob’s last great campaign.  His record fell to 8-11 in 1959.  Despite his .750 winning percentage and 3.25 ERA in 1960, Turley’s strikeout numbers dwindled significantly.  He made his last World Series appearance that year in the wild 1960 Fall Classic.  Still with the Yanks in the magical 1961 season, Bullet Bob suffered through his worst season in the Majors when Maris and Mantle set the baseball world ablaze with their slugging.  The Yankees used him out of the bullpen in 1962 but by that time hitters had caught up with his fastball and he was no longer posting his low hits allowed totals.  The Angels purchased his contract for the 1963 season, his final in the Majors, which he split between the Halos and Red Sox.


W 101/L 85/PCT .543/ERA 3.64/G 310/CG 78/SHO 24/IP 1,713/H 1,366/BB 1,068/SO 1,265

One of the greatest power-hitting catchers of all-time, Mickey Tettleton was an unusual talent.  The switch-hitter could swat the long ball with the best of them but his batting averages never were too flattering.  But the big man from Oklahoma offset his rather low batting averages with solid on-base percentages.  It wasn’t a problem at all for Tettleton to draw 100 walks a season while also smacking 30 dingers and driving in his share of runs.  A two-time All-Star and winner of three Silver Slugger Awards, Mickey was a powerful presence in the lineup.

Drafted by the Oakland A’s in 1981, Tettleton was called up to California for the first time in ’84.  As a rookie, Mickey spelled Mike Heath behind the dish but Heath was one of two Athletics regulars who failed to post a .300 on-base percentage.  In Mickey’s 33 game trial, he posted a nice .352 OBP.  Despite the edge Mick had in on-base percentage and power, he was unable to claim the starting catching assignment in Oakland.  He reached double-digits in homeruns for the first time in 1986 but his batting average fell to .204.  When he failed to hit .200 in 1987, Oakland gave up on their switch-hitting receiver.  It was a huge mistake.

Oakland released Mickey before the 1988 season and he quickly signed on with the Orioles.  He raised his batting average to .261 his first year in Baltimore before he established himself as a power-hitting star in 1989.  Named to his first All-Star Team, Mickey blasted 26 homers–no other catcher in the Majors reached 20.  Mickey’s power numbers began to blossom but his pitch recognition abilities were heightened too.  In 1990, Mickey drew 106 walks–the first of five years he’d eclipse 100 free passes.  Although he posted a robust .376 on-base percentage in ’90, his batting average fell to .223 and Baltimore made a foolish trade with Detroit after the season.  The Birds shipped Tettleton off to Detroit for right-hander Jeff Robinson.  All Mickey did in Detroit was post three straight 30 homer seasons.

The Silver Slugger recipient for catchers his first year in Detroit, Tettleton blasted 31 homers as the Tigers regular catcher.  Matt Nokes of the Yankees was the only other catcher to hit over 20 homers in the Majors but he fell seven short of Mighty Mickey’s total.  By the early 1990s, Mickey had firmly established himself as the best power-hitting catcher in the Majors but his glove wasn’t too bad either.  In 1992, he paced American League catchers with a .996 fielding percentage.  But in the following years, Mickey’s arm would falter as his caught-stealing percentage would fall from 35% in 1992 to 20% in ’93 and just 17% in 1994.  But his bat was still booming.  In that ’92 season, Mickey paced the AL with 122 walks and established a new career high with 32 homers–he’d match that output the following season.

Tettleton had one of his better years in 1993.  He cracked the 100 RBI mark for the first time but with his catching skills slipping, skipper Sparky Anderson moved Mickey around.  From the ’93 season on, Mickey became a corner outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter and part-time catcher.  The positional carousal didn’t hinder his hitting though.  After the strike-shortened 1994 season, Mickey signed a free agent deal with the Texas Rangers and posted his fourth 30+ homerun season in five years.  Rangers skipper Johnny Oates used Mickey in much the same multi-purpose fashion Sparky employed him the year before.  Despite the change in scenery and unstable positioning, Mickey still blasted 32 homers and drew 107 walks.  The next year, as a 35-year-old veteran, Tettleton got his first and only taste of postseason action but Texas was trounced by the Yankees in the Division Series.  Mickey would retire courtesy a knee injury the following year.


G 1,485/R 711/H 1,132/2B 210/3B 16/HR 245/RBI 732/SB 23/BB 949/SO 1,307/BA .241/OBP .369/SA .449

A former first round pick by the San Francisco Giants, Speier was taken as the second player in the nation in the January phase of the 1970 amateur draft.  The tall, rangy shortstop had a quick route to the Majors.  By 1971, he was the Giants everyday shortstop and he led them to an NL West pennant as a rookie.  Speier enjoyed a long career, spent predominately with the Giants and Expos in the 1970s.  Late in his career he was a valuable reserve for the Cubs and Giants in the mid to late 1980s.

As a rookie in 1971, only Larry Bowa played more games at short in the National League than Speier.  Chris topped senior circuit shortstops in homeruns that season while he led the Giants to the top of the NL West.  Although San Fran lost to the Clemente/Blass led Pirates in the NLCS, Chris hit a lusty .357 during the series.  Many youngsters who enjoy initial success at the highest level suffer from the dreaded Sophomore Jinx in their second campaign, but not Speier.  In fact his 1972 season was his best at the Major League level.  Chris clubbed fifteen homers and drove in 71 runs–both totals were easily the best among Major League shortstops.  But it wasn’t all brawny bashing for Speier.  He fielded his position at a solid .974 clip, finished first with 517 assists and was named to the first of three consecutive All-Star Teams.

For the second straight year, Chris was the only Major League shortstop to post a double-digit homerun total when he swatted eleven long balls in 1973.  He also chased 71 runs across the plate as no other NL shortstop reached 60 RBI.  He finished second in putouts among shortstops and made his second trip to the All-Star Game.  An All-Star again in 1974, Speier’s Giants fell into the second division after the departure of Hall of Fame slugger Willie McCovey.  Chris banged out nine homers and drew 62 walks.  The following year he led NL shortstops in homeruns and RBI again.  The rangy shortstop also posted 30 doubles and had a terrific 70 walks to 50 strikeouts.

But the 1975 season would be the last time Chris would reach double-digits in homeruns until the late 1980s. When his bat went south in 1976 the Giants traded him to the Expos early in 1977 for Tim “Crazy Horse” Foli.  Speier and Ivan DeJesus were the only two National League shortstops to post 30 doubles in ’77.  Although his bat was no longer capable of ten-plus homeruns a season, his leather didn’t suffer.  In 1978, Chris fielded his position at a .975 clip–nine points above league average for shortstops.

Under Hall of Fame skipper Dick Williams, the forever dormant Expos climbed up to second place in 1979.  During the strike-shortened season of 1981, Montreal actually made the postseason and Chris hit a robust .400 in the Division Series against the Phillies.  The following year Speier had one of his last good run-production years.  He drove in 60 runs for the ’82 Expos.  In 1983, Chris began to lose playing time to a younger Bryan Little.  In July of ’84 the Expos traded Chris to the Cardinals but he would finish the year in Minnesota–his only trip to the American League.

In his mid 30s, Chris returned to familiar surroundings when he came home to the National League.  He signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Cubs to serve as a reserve for Shawon Dunston and Ryne Sandberg.  Speier’s best single season batting average came in his final Wrigley Field campaign when he hit .284 for the ’86 Cubs.  After the 1986 season Chris returned home to the Giants and became a very handy reserve for Roger Craig’s squad.  As a 37-year-old veteran, Speier played 55 games at second, 44 at third and 22 at shortstop.  The Giants won the NL West but were defeated by the Cardinals in the NLCS.  Chris would play two more seasons before hanging up his spikes.


G 2,260/R 770/H 1,759/2B 302/3B 50/HR 112/RBI 720/SB 42/BB 847/SO 988/BA .246/OBP .327/SA .349

A terrific on-base machine during the Deadball Era, Shotton was a valuable leadoff man for the old St. Louis Browns.  A middling team during his tenure with the club, Burt was an offensive igniter who reached base by any means necessary.  Due to his excellent on-base skills, Shotton scored plenty runs in the low scoring era in which he played.  After his playing days he had a fine career as a manager.  He replaced Hall of Fame skipper Leo Durocher, who was suspended from baseball for “conduct detrimental to baseball,” i.e. consorting with gamblers and mobsters, and led Brooklyn to two World Series appearances in 1947 and ’49.

Shotton broke in with the Browns in 1909 but didn’t stick.  After spending the entire 1910 season back in the bushes, St. Louis brought him back for a second trial in 1911.  He made good on his second trip to the Majors.  In 1912, Burt led American League outfielders in walks drawn with 86 which boosted his on-base percentage to an enviable .390.  He raised both his walks total and on-base percentage in 1913 when he paced the AL with 99 walks and posted a .405 on-base percentage–good for sixth in the junior circuit.  His on-base skills were of great value.  The Browns were a second division team in 1913 but Burt scored over 100 runs, which made him the only player on a second division club to eclipse the 100 runs scored mark.  Shotton accounted for 20% of all Browns runs.

But Burt’s game wasn’t just geared around his batting eye.  A swift outfielder, he finished second to legendary center fielder Tris Speaker in steals among American League gardeners in 1914.  But the following year would be one of Shotton’s best.  At the top of his game in 1915, Burt paced AL left fielders in walks (118), runs (93) and thefts (43).  For the second time in his career he eclipsed the .400 on-base percentage plateau.  The Federal League operated in both the 1914 and 1915 seasons but Burt remained loyal to the Browns.  After the upstart league folded, talented players were reshuffled into the older leagues and many players who flourished during the three league platform started to struggle… but not Burt.

In fine form in 1916, Shotton led the American League with 110 walks.  He also posted his fourth straight year of 40 or more stolen bases, scored 97 runs and finished second in assists from the outfield.  But Burt then suffered through his worst season in the Majors in 1917 and the Browns traded him to the Senators for pitcher Bert Gallia.  Shotton rebounded in Washington and enjoyed his last good year at the Major League level.  He topped American League left fielders in walks and stolen bases.  After the season the Cardinals claimed him off waivers and he spent a few seasons as a reserve outfielder for the Redbirds.


G 1,387/R 747/H 1,338/2B 154/3B 65/HR 9/RBI 290/SB 293/BA .271/OBP .365/SA .333

Cuppy spent his entire career in the shadow of Cy Young.  The two star right-handers comprised an enviable one-two punch for the old Cleveland Spiders.  After many years of playing in the upper division with the Spiders, both hurlers later joined the St. Louis Perfectos before they caught on with the Red Sox when the American League became a major circuit in 1901.  Although he was always second fiddle to Mr. Young, Cuppy was no slouch on the mound.  In only one season did he post a winning percentage below .500 and in his first six seasons in the Majors, his winning percentage was an even .600 or higher.

Cuppy broke in with the Cleveland Spiders in 1892 and had one of the finest seasons for a rookie pitcher in baseball history.  Nig went 28-13 with a 2.51 ERA in 376 innings of work.  The long arm from Logansport established his career high in strikeouts as a freshman and completed 38 of his starts.  The heavy frosh workload took its toll on Cuppy and his ERA swelled to 4.47 in 1893, but the Spiders of Patsy Tebeau had a terrific lineup that bailed Nig out and kept his winning percentage above .600.  In Cleveland’s star lineup were such greats as Jesse Burkett, Buck Ewing, Cupid Childs, Ed McKean and Chief Zimmer.

In 1894, Cuppy exceeded 20 wins again (he would be a 20-game winner in four separate seasons) while leading the league in shutouts.  Although Cuppy surrendered a lot of hits, he kept the damage to a minimum.  Even better in 1895, Cuppy trimmed his ERA down to 3.54 and posted a terrific 26-14 record.  He was able to keep his hits allowed down.  Nig worked 353 innings and would exceed that workload the following year when he won 25 games in 1896.  For the years 1894-1896, Nig averaged 25 wins each season for the Spiders.

But with four seasons of 300+ innings under his belt, Nig’s arm went south and he would never again reach 200 innings in a single season.  In 1897, Nig posted a .625 winning percentage which gave him a winning percentage above .600 in all of his first six seasons in the Majors.  But an overworked arm limited him to 138 innings.  With Nig’s innings pitched truncated, the Spiders fell to fifth place as Cy Young had limited support on the mound crew.  When Cuppy pitched even fewer innings in 1898, Cleveland felt he was through and shipped him off to the Perfectos of St. Louis.  He posted a fine .579 winning percentage his only year in St. Louis.

After a solid year with the Boston Beaneaters in 1900, Cuppy left the team but remained in Beantown.  The American League had established itself as a Major League circuit and Nig joined the first Red Sox squad.  With the Beaneaters the year before, Cuppy’s winning percentage was an amazing .667 but for the first and only time in his career, his mark fell below .500.  Nig would end his career with the 1901 Red Sox.


W 162/L 98/PCT .623/ERA 3.48/G 302/CG 224/SHO 9/IP 2,283/H 2,520/BB 609/S0 504