This off season witnessed a rash of retirements. It was unusual given the recent departures from the game of guys like Bonds, Clemens, Smoltz and Pedro Martinez, who refused to announce their retirements, keeping the door open for a call from some GM looking for an AARP injection to his roster. But guys like Mike Sweeney made their end official. In his prime, Sweeney was a top hitter in the American League who once drove in 144 runs for the Kansas City Royals. When healthy, Mike was a dynamite heart-of-the-order hitter, but health was always a concern for Big Mike. When he was younger, Mike was a good on-base percentage guy who drew walks, but in an unusual course of events, as he aged, he lost all plate discipline and swung the bat at everything. Most players, as they age and mature in the batter’s box, become more selective hitters, but Sweeney, a selective hitter in his prime, was the antithesis of the selective hitter as a veteran.
Despite his health concerns and offensive erosion, Sweeney was a five-time All-Star and a sure bet to hit .300 at his peak. He had six seasons with 20-or-more homeruns in spacious Kauffman Stadium where the Royals play their home games. He had a 200-hit season and on two occasions eclipsed the coveted .400 on-base percentage.