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Monday, July 09, 2007

Lenny Dykstra

Eligible in 2002.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 09, 2007 at 01:43 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 09, 2007 at 01:49 AM (#2434251)
What a fun, fun player. A great player for a time, too.
   2. baudib Posted: July 09, 2007 at 02:02 AM (#2434263)
The Pete Reiser of his time.
   3. OCF Posted: July 09, 2007 at 02:03 AM (#2434265)
Post-WWII runs scored by players primarily identified as leadoff men, single season:

146 Henderson, 1985
146 Biggio, 1997
143 Dykstra, 1993
[Note: Alex Rodriguez scored 141 in 1996 batting mostly 2nd.]
140 Knoblauch, 1996

Other notable seasons include
136 Molitor, 1982
114 Molitor, 1987, in only 118 games played
   4. RJ in TO Posted: July 09, 2007 at 02:34 AM (#2434298)
There is no player that I hate more than Lenny Dykstra without knowing why.
   5. Grumbledook Posted: July 09, 2007 at 10:50 AM (#2434505)
I still remember the day he was traded (with Roger McDowell) and they announced it on channel 9 after the game. I actually thought it was a good trade, which shows how little I know.
   6. The Wilpons Must Go (Tom D) Posted: July 09, 2007 at 11:05 AM (#2434508)
I had no particular problem with the trade at the time, except that it further stretched adefense that was evolving into being laughable. IIRC, the primary up-the-middle defense was Sasser-Jefferies-Elster-Samuel. I am generally an offense over defense guy, but emphasizing offense and having three DH's at key defensive positions are two different things.
   7. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: July 09, 2007 at 11:09 AM (#2434509)
Uh... did he do coke?
   8. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 09, 2007 at 02:09 PM (#2434592)
Uh... did he do PEDs?

He bulked up an incredible amount between his brief flirtation with .400 in 1991 and his amazing leadoff year in 1993.

That said, I was a Phils fan, living in Philly at that time, and I loved him. Before that I was a quasi Mets fan living in NYC (Yanks first, then Mets at the time), and I loved him then. Yes, he was a scrappyhustlingwhiteguy type, sure, but in reality, he had good range in center, he was an excellent percentage player overall, and he did lots of things to help his teams win. Leadoff guys with OBP-heavy 119 OPS+es and 79% SB%s don't grow on trees.

The fact that he was a filthy, uncouth lout merely cemented my endearment, and I read Michael Lewis's brief summation of Dykstra's rise through the Mets system (in the section about Beane's total failure as a prospect) with interest. Lewis didn't quite capture the truth about Dykstra (don't have book here, correct me if I'm wrong!). I recollect Lewis saying that Dykstra made every inch of his talent work while Beane couldn't, but I'd recharacterize it as Dykstra had real baseball skills and Beane just had tools. Dykstra made it work because he recognized that his skills led to runs, and he knew what to do with them.
   9. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: July 09, 2007 at 03:33 PM (#2434689)
I recall that section of Moneyball fondly, as I also have a great affection for Nails. If I remember, Beane admired Dykstra because he was the kind of person who was mentally equipped to just let minor failures like going 0-4 merely roll off his back whereas Beane sit and stewed over it.

Like a lot of other people around here, I only think so much of unquantifiable characteristics as "mental toughness" but in the case of guys like Lenny Dykstra, David Eckstein or even Reggie Willits, they wouldn't have careers the careers they have if they weren't the kind of people they are.
   10. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: July 09, 2007 at 03:33 PM (#2434690)
/arrested by grammar police
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 09, 2007 at 03:39 PM (#2434697)
Second in MVP balloting in 1993, All-Star in 1994 and 1995. In 1996 he only played in 40 games, but put up a very respectable .261/.387/.418 at age 33. That was it. I forget why his career ended. Was it injuries or was he just tired of the game?
   12. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: July 09, 2007 at 03:49 PM (#2434706)
I forget why his career ended. Was it injuries or was he just tired of the game?

It was basically injuries. IIRC, he would've officially retired long before he actually did but the Phillies wanted to collect the insurance on his contract. I don't know how long exactly he stayed on but it seemed like at least a year or two. That may be why people don't remember his career ending officially. He was injured for a very long time and then one day, he wasn't around at all.
   13. DavidFoss Posted: July 09, 2007 at 04:32 PM (#2434735)
It was basically injuries. IIRC, he would've officially retired long before he actually did but the Phillies wanted to collect the insurance on his contract. I don't know how long exactly he stayed on but it seemed like at least a year or two. That may be why people don't remember his career ending officially. He was injured for a very long time and then one day, he wasn't around at all.

bb-ref lists Dykstra as having a $6M salary in both 1997-98 despite not playing a single game. The same thing happened with Puckett. He stayed on the 60-day DL for two years after it was clear he would never play again.
   14. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: July 09, 2007 at 04:58 PM (#2434763)
The same thing happened with Puckett.

Albert Belle, too! bb-ref says Belle earned $37M from 2001-2003 despite having played his last game in 2000.
   15. Toolsy McClutch Posted: July 09, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2434765)
Uh... did he do PEDs?


I thought the same thing watching a replay of the '93 series. He was very big in an age where there weren't a lot of big guys. And he played a speed position. Of course, I think that only because of Daulton, it wouldn't surprise me if he spent an incredible amount of time in the gym.

Out of any Phillie, he was the one I was most scared of back then. He could kill you in so many ways.
   16. baudib Posted: July 09, 2007 at 05:22 PM (#2434785)
Dykstra was an absolutely devastating postseason player: .321 .433 .661, 27 runs and 10 homers in 32 games.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 09, 2007 at 05:59 PM (#2434830)
Dock,

I don't think Eckstein and Willits are the same kinds of players as Dykstra. Eckstein and Willits are realistically average players at best. Dykstra had more power, he walked, he was a great percentage stealer, he had excellent range, he could hit for average. His grit and hustle stuff was more his affect than his game.

As to why his career ended, my recollection was that Dykstra suffered (suffers?) from a congenital narrowing of the spine. I think it caused him tremendous lower back pain, and I remember it sapping his power. Playing on the atrocious Vet turf was supposedly a leading irritant to the condition: it was never said that it caused the problem, but it may have exacerbated it. The Vet's turf was regularly cited by football and baseball people at the time as being super duper hard, so it wouldn't exactly surprise me if the turf had in some way shortened his career, particularly given his rough-n-tumble style of play.

Non-sequitor: I think Van Slyke once quipped that given how much chaw Lenny used that the Vet's centerfield had been designated a superfund site. Or something to that effect.
   18. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: July 09, 2007 at 06:43 PM (#2434869)
Eric,

Oh, I agree that Nails was better than Eckstein and Willits are now. Eckstein, to me, is a below-average player and I think it's hard to dispute (as much as it is hard to prove) that his tenacity and determination is the difference between him and players with his exact talent level and skill set But I wonder if Lenny would even have had a career at all if he had Billy Beane's personality to go with his talent and body size. I'd hate to just throw around "because that's just how some people are wired" but I think it's true.

The Vet's turf was regularly cited by football and baseball people at the time as being super duper hard

This will probably the only time I can speak from personal experience about such things but the summers when I was 9 and 10, I attended a week-long baseball camp hosted by the Phillies. As a treat, we spent one day of that week playing at the Vet, with the field all to ourselves. We were shagging flies in the outfield and practicing running into the wall (like any other kids in that situation would've) when another kid slid with his cleats and tore up a piece of the Astroturf. We were absolutely shocked that the ground underneath was sheer concrete, as if the Astroturf was just some sort of throw-rug to cover up the unsightly floor below it. Even at 9, the audacity of a professional team willing to torture its players by forcing them to play on such a playing surface didn't escape us.
   19. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 09, 2007 at 06:47 PM (#2434875)
The Pete Reiser of his time.


More like its Nellie Fox if you ever saw his face out on the field.
   20. baudib Posted: July 10, 2007 at 09:03 AM (#2435447)
I used to think of Lenny as Pete Reiser when he was active and I think the comp really works. Each had that one big year that could have won an MVP in a lot of seasons. They were both hard-nosed, scrappy type players with careers seriously shortened by injuries.
   21. AndrewJ Posted: September 12, 2007 at 10:09 PM (#2521907)
Dykstra was an absolutely devastating postseason player: .321 .433 .661, 27 runs and 10 homers in 32 games.

Dykstra (with some help from Schilling) singlehandedly kept the Phils in the '93 Series.

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