An exciting player with obvious skills, Samuel was one of the top speed/power combo guys of the 1980s. A second baseman for the Phillies during that decade, Juan once hit as many as 28 homers in a season and his highwater mark in steals was 72. His terrific tools set helped to diminish his flaws in other aspects of the game: defense and plate discipline. Juan scored over 100 runs three times during his career and was named to three All-Star teams.
After a brief trial with the Phillies in 1983, Juan was inserted into the Phillies lineup as their everyday second baseman the following year. He went head-to-head with Dwight Gooden in NL Rookie of the Year voting but the troubled Mets pitcher eventually won the award. For Samuel’s part, he led the league in triples, scored 105 runs, banged out 191 hits and pilfered 72 bases. Named to the NL All-Star team as a rookie, Juan showcased his amazing raw tools but his glaring deficiency in plate discipline–he walked just 28 times offset by 168 strikeouts–made Gooden a superior selection for the ROTY award.
Although Juan led the league in strikeouts every year from 1984 to 1987, he showed enough speed/power skills to remain an everyday player. He upped his homerun output to 19 in 1985 and posted his second season with 100 or more runs scored. Granted, he led the league in strikeouts four consecutive seasons but during those four seasons he reached double-digits in every extra base hit department each season. At the top of his game in 1987, Juan made his second All-Star trip and paced the NL in triples again. Juan scored 113 runs and drove in an even 100, making him one of the top run producers in the game. He hit 28 homeruns but more importantly he made strides in plate discipline. Sammy drew 60 walks that season which nearly doubled his output from any previous campaign.
Juan was never the greatest second baseman in the league. He paced his position peers in putouts a few times but his fielding percentages were always below league average. When he failed to duplicate his success in 1988 the Phillies moved him to the outfield and eventually moved him to New York for two valuable pieces in Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell. Juan couldn’t get going with the Mets and after the season he was dealt to the Dodgers for Alejandro Pena and Mike Marshall. The Dodgers returned Juan to second base and he put together two adequate seasons out on the west coast. He made his final All-Star team with the 1991 Dodgers. Surprisingly, after that All-Star season, Sammy’s days as a regular were over.
Released by Los Angeles midway through the 1992 season, Juan caught on with the Kansas City Royals and began the nomadic chapter in his career. From that moment on Juan was used as a part-time player/pinch hitter. He joined the Reds in 1993 and the following year, during the strike shortened ’94 season, Samuel had his only .300 hit season with Detroit. The Tigers then swapped him back to the Royals for failed prospect Phil Hiatt. Juan would end his career with a three-year run as a bat-off-the-bench for the Toronto Blue Jays.
G 1,720/R 873/H 1,578/2B 287/3B 102/HR 161/RBI 703/SB 396/BB 440/SO 1,442/BA .259/OBP .315/SA .420