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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

17 Players Who Began Their Careers At Positions We Forgot They Played

8. Raul Ibanez, catcher

I’ll be honest. I had no idea he was once a catcher until I heard it recently on an ESPN baseball podcast. Heck, I had no idea he was ever young. He’s one of those guys who seems like he was 35 at birth.

Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 29, 2013 at 01:50 PM | 83 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bert campaneris, cesar tovar, hall of fame, multiple positions

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   1. McCoy Posted: May 29, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4454697)
I'm pretty sure this article could have been titled "17 players Who Began Their Careers as Catchers and We Forgot They Did That".
   2. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4454705)
I've always assumed that most big leaguers were pitchers at some point during LL.
   3. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: May 29, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4454706)
Scott Hatteberg used to be a catcher before becoming a first baseman.
   4. Danny Posted: May 29, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4454711)
Matt Stairs split his time between 2B/3B/SS his first year in the minors.
   5. SG Posted: May 29, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4454721)
I've always assumed that most big leaguers were pitchers at some point during LL.


Isn't the profile usually pitcher/SS?
   6. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4454723)
Jimmie Foxx came up as a catcher long before Carlos Delgado made it cool.

I guess casual fans don't realize that virtually every major league first baseman played other infield positions, usually third, in the minors. Thome and Bagwell and McGwire aren't unique in that way. A guy actually getting drafted as a first baseman is a lot more rare, I think.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4454750)
Jimmie Foxx came up as a catcher long before Carlos Delgado made it cool.


Foxx was actually a decent catcher, defensively. He played regularly as a catcher for stretches of the 1935 and 1940 (when he was 32!) seasons. I'm sure he could have been a major league regular at the position, although his hitting may have suffered. His problem was that the Athletics also came up with Mickey Cochrane at exactly the same time, and one of them had to move.
   8. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4454753)
A guy actually getting drafted as a first baseman is a lot more rare, I think.

Yeah, definitely. They almost have to be left-handed for that to happen (Keith Hernandez), and even then they're likely an OF or a pitcher.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4454763)

Scott Hatteberg used to be a catcher before becoming a first baseman.


Its not that difficult.

I thought it was weird to find out Hal McRae began as a 3B with the Reds.

Ron Gant and Danny Tartabull began as 2B. George Brett began as a SS his first pro season.

I just remarked the other day how I had no idea Pedro Guerrero played CF for the Dodgers.

Surprised he didn't even mention all the hitters turned pitchers - Dave Stieb, Al Fitzmorris, Tom Burgmeier, Troy Percival, Trevor Hoffman, Joel Peralta, Rafael Soriano, James McDonald, Sean Doolittle.
   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4454767)
Isn't the profile usually pitcher/SS?


Not for left-handed pitchers :)

We had two extremely talented kids in my Little League who were left-handed pitchers, one of whom eventually played pro ball in Italy and was a semi-pro player in Pittsburgh for a long time after that. He played CF and 1B when not pitching.

-- MWE
   11. Bob Tufts Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4454771)
Bret Saberhagen - picked by KC as a shortstop in the 19th round of the 1982 draft
   12. BDC Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4454778)
Hell, I forget what position most of the Rangers play from one game to the next.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4454787)

Bret Saberhagen - picked by KC as a shortstop in the 19th round of the 1982 draft


I think there was some debate about which way Zack Greinke would go too. Nick Markakis and John Olerud as well.
   14. God Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4454790)
An obvious one they missed is Konerko as a catcher.
   15. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4454795)
Choooooch (Carlos Ruiz) would have been the squattiest 2B had he stayed where he was drafted.
Wasn't Pat Burrell a 3B in college?
   16. God Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4454802)
Among hard-throwing relievers, Kenley Jansen was a catcher in the minors and Sergio Santos was a shortstop. Guillermo Mota was some kind of infielder I think. Felix Rodriguez was a catcher. Russell Martin was a college shortstop who was drafted as a third baseman.

James McDonald, mentioned above, I believe was drafted as a pitcher, switched to outfield for a while when his arm got hurt, and then moved back to pitcher.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4454803)

An obvious one they missed is Konerko as a catcher.


Its the very first sentence of the piece and the picture accompanying it.
   18. God Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4454813)
Ok, then it's an a obvious one I missed. That's what a meant to say. Yep...

Admittedly I scrolled past the intro and went right to the actual list.
   19. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4454815)
Yeah, definitely. They almost have to be left-handed for that to happen (Keith Hernandez), and even then they're likely an OF or a pitcher.


If Hernandez was a righty he almost certainly would have come up as a 2b/ss, likely landing at 3b eventually...

I guess casual fans don't realize that virtually every major league first baseman played other infield positions, usually third, in the minors.


Steve Garvey- and he came up as a 3B- and if you'd ever seen him play you would realize how mindboggling that was - not that he was a statue, if he had an average arm he likely could have been a passable 3b until his 30s, but he had a worse arm than Johnny Damon, I'm not sure he could reach the 1B from 3rd on the fly...

Jim Thome came up as a 3B
   20. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4454818)
Jeff Francoeur was drafted as a baseball player.
   21. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4454821)
Surprised he didn't even mention all the hitters turned pitchers - Dave Stieb, Al Fitzmorris, Tom Burgmeier, Troy Percival, Trevor Hoffman, Joel Peralta, Rafael Soriano, James McDonald, Sean Doolittle.


That would really have to be a separate list as it's pretty common, no?

Doolittle is particularly amazing to me; he went practically straight from constantly injured first baseman struggling in the minors one day to ass-kicking major league reliever the next. And he brings it in the mid-90s; even for a lefthander it has to be rare for a kid with that great an arm to be playing first base.
   22. Ron J2 Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4454825)
#11 Jimmy Key's scouting report finishes up, "Needs help in most phases of pitching. His bat may end up being his biggest asset. Position?" (The scout has a "missed on evaluation" on his copy of the report.)
   23. God Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4454834)
Doolittle is particularly amazing to me; he went practically straight from constantly injured first baseman struggling in the minors one day to ass-kicking major league reliever the next.


Kenley Jansen was the starting catcher for the Netherlands in the 2009 WBC, and by the end of 2010 he was the Dodgers' closer.
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4454840)

#11 Jimmy Key's scouting report finishes up, "Needs help in most phases of pitching. His bat may end up being his biggest asset. Position?" (The scout has a "missed on evaluation" on his copy of the report.)


I found one for Tom Gordon that described him as a light hitting shortstop (sound familiar?) and the scout was unsure he could ever hit his way to the big leagues. Oh and by the way, he also pitches.
   25. God Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4454843)
I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree with Gordon. Your move, Dodgers.
   26. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4454847)
I had forgotten Mike Morse broke in as a shortstop until I saw it somewhere the other day.
   27. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4454849)
Wow, I had forgotten that Ibanez was a catcher. I worked for the Riverside Pilots (a Cal League Team) in '95 when Ibanez was there and my mind convinced me that he played in the outfield until I looked it up on bb-ref. I worked in the concession area and since we didn't have a lot of fans, I was able to watch lots of games.
   28. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4454854)
Dave Kingman didn't start out as a 3B, but that didn't stop the Giants from trying to make him one in his 2nd and 3rd major league seasons.
   29. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4454860)
Mark Hendrickson, Brian Jordan.
   30. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4454861)
I remember Tartabull as a 2nd baseman and McGwire at third. Mac played some third because the A's had some other hot shot prospect named Rob Nelson opening the season at first. McGwire had the arm for third, but...he was a 1st baseman. Rob Nelson was soon shipped off to San Diego, IIRC.

Now to check bbref to see if I'm remembering the Rob Nelson-McGwire dynamic correctly.

edit: I was close. McGwire looked like he was in a time share with Nelson and they played him at third to get him in the lineup more and to spell Lansford. Random players on that 87 As team: Ron Cey, Reggie Jackson, Alfredo Griffin, Tony Bernazard, Jose Rijo, Gary Lavelle, Johnnie LeMaster and Brian Harper. Probably should have held onto Brian Harper.
   31. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4454864)
They totally missed the crazy thing about Thome: He was drafted as a shortstop.

Edit to add because I just noticed: The last pick in the round Thome was taken was a third baseman from USC named Rodney Peete.
   32. God Posted: May 29, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4454865)
Believe it or not, Hanley Ramirez was originally a shortstop.

Wait, what?
   33. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4454870)
Dave Kingman didn't start out as a 3B, but that didn't stop the Giants from trying to make him one in his 2nd and 3rd major league seasons.


He had the arm strength.

He was tall and lanky and ran surprisingly well, strong arm, he had the physical tools to be a good defensive OF

but he was absolutely terrible at every position, bad hands, bad instincts, despite having a strong arm, despite having pitched in college his arm was worse than useless, seriously, it was not so much that he couldn't control where he threw the ball it was more a matter of he didn't know WHERE to throw the ball- "do I throw to the cutoff man? Do I throw ahead of the runner, which runner, should I throw the ball home or to 2b??? He'd have a play on a runner at 3rd, and he wouldn't make it simply because he either didn't even try, or he'd make up his mind too late to try to get the runner.

So he was an absolute disaster in the OF, but was athletic enough and had a strong arm, so sticking him at 1B probably looked like a waste, so they tried 3B...
   34. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4454881)
If Hernandez was a righty he almost certainly would have come up as a 2b/ss, likely landing at 3b eventually...


If Hernandez threw right-handed, would he be in the Hall of Fame? He was an outstanding defensive first baseman, so it's easy to see him being an average or better third baseman. In addition, his hitting numbers look better at third than they do at first. I suppose his biggest problem is that he hit like a good leadoff man or traditional #2 hitter, but voters expect first baseman to have big HR/RBI numbers.
   35. Ron J2 Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4454887)
#33 Actually you're forgetting this was the Giants. The chain of logic is roughly, is he right-handed? If yes, is he Willie Mays? If no, can he throw from third base to first base? If yes, try him at third.

It's a generalization to be sure, but pretty much every right handed thrower in the organization was tried at third. Most were better at it than Jim Ray Hart.
   36. Transmission Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4454896)
Stay tuned for next week, when we release....

"17 Websites That Are Contributing to the Buzzfeedification of Online Journalism"
   37. zempf Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4454901)
I always think of Jayson Werth as a catcher when these things come up (and since the article mentioned it as a requirement, here's photo evidence from younger & less hirsute days).
   38. BDC Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:21 PM (#4454902)
crazy thing about Thome: He was drafted as a shortstop

Harmon Killebrew's first MLB games were at second base. It's not that crazy that guys who eventually became somewhat-minus slugging third basemen were originally shortstops or second basemen; that's just the direction of slide along the "defensive spectrum." It becomes crazy in retrospect when you imagine the horrors of your 40ish DH out in the middle infield :)
   39. bfan Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4454904)
Doolittle is particularly amazing to me; he went practically straight from constantly injured first baseman struggling in the minors one day to ass-kicking major league reliever the next.


Doolittle was the #1 starting pitcher for a very good UVA baseball team, when he was there. He had pitched successfully at a very high level (what would we call a very good college team equal to- high A, maybe?) before, and i was surprised they turned him into a 1B (although he was a heck of a hitter in college, too).
   40. jdennis Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4454909)
i remember thome and teixeira as third basemen, especially teixeira. thought sheff would get more ink. cap anson started as a third baseman. honus wagner was a non-ss also. i suppose people could come up with a hundred if they tried.

in a few years, albert will be on there i guess.
   41. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4454917)
Harmon Killebrew's first MLB games were at second base.


Graig Nettles, one of the greatest defensive 3Bs ever was a 2B in college and his first year in the Minors.

He was slow with respect to running speed, but his reflexes/first step were shockingly quick (a bit of a disconnect actually, how could someone who was so quick have such a slow top speed?)

However, the Twins had another prospect who looked like a 2B and made the majors first (Rod Carew), so the Twins moved Nettles to 3b...

Carew was a much faster runner than Nettles, but wasn't such a hot 2b defensively- I strongly suspect that Nettles would have been a better defensive 2B than Carew- but that's just a what if.

   42. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4454925)
Mantle came up as an SS, Phil Rizzuto once said that he first saw Mantle taking BP in Spring Training, one of the coaches told Phil that the kid (Mantle was like 17/18 a the time) was the Yankees new SS prospect... Phil knew well that the Yankees back then were ruthless when it came to personnel... so even though he'd been their regular SS since 1941 he was screwed, he was following Priddy to St Louis or someplace...

Then the next day he saw Mantle taking infield practice, and was never more relieved, Mantle may have been the best pure athlete he'd ever seen on the diamond, but he was no kind of shortstop.

   43. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: May 29, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4454941)
Chili Davis was a catcher his first few years in the minors.

I remember one game towards the end of his career, where some sort of catcher-related emergency happened. He volunteered to be the bullpen catcher to warm up relievers.
   44. cardsfanboy Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4454951)
You'll sometimes see people writing articles like this, and I just wish they would not even bother to consider players who were drafted as shortstops. As mentioned almost all great players have played shortstop regardless of where they end up in the majors. The catcher conversion happens frequently enough that it's probably not notable unless it results in the player shifting to short/second/center....
   45. rlc Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:11 PM (#4454959)
Mark Hendrickson, Brian Jordan.


Danny Ainge, Drew Henson.
   46. philphan Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4454962)
So he was an absolute disaster in the OF, but was athletic enough and had a strong arm, so sticking him at 1B probably looked like a waste, so they tried 3B...


JS-LF: Kingman was the bane of my existence--what an unappealing ballplayer. I dimly recall one game in which the Mets tried to play him at 3B, and the opposing team just started trying to drop bunts down the line, and they had to shift him back over to 1B. He may have been the worst defensive player I have ever seen.

Jason Giambi was drafted as a SS as well--maybe Cleveland could stick him out there for an inning? That would be fun.

I guess I am old enough that a lot of the specifics in TFA are more "Well yeah!" than "Huh?" If Chipper had not hurt his knee, he might have been a decent SS. So might Mike Schmidt--just think, if not for a high school knee injury, he might have been the man to transform the shortstop position.
   47. Bob Tufts Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4454971)
Chili Davis was a catcher his first few years in the minors.


I am convinced that by sharing a bottle of bourbon with me upon his arrival at the Arizona instructional league after signing, throwing up all night and dropping every pitch that I threw in BP (or at least the ones that I somehow threw for strikes) in full view of the assembled minor league coaches that I helped get Chili out from behind the plate.

Bourbon - is there anything that it cannot do?
   48. Steve Treder Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4454974)
It's a generalization to be sure, but pretty much every right handed thrower in the organization was tried at third. Most were better at it than Jim Ray Hart.

Yeah, pretty much.

- Mel Ott (yes, he was)
- Sid Gordon
- Hank Thompson
- Bobby Thomson
- Orlando Cepeda
- Jackie Brandt
- Felipe Alou
- Manny Mota
- Jose Cardenal
- Cap Peterson
- Ken Henderson

And, of course, Hart and Kingman.

(You know, somebody should write an e-book about this phenomenon ...)

   49. Walt Davis Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4454975)
Steve Garvey- and he came up as a 3B

Everybody spent time at third in the 60s and 70s (and beyond). Killebrew, Allen, Perez, Bob Robertson, George Scott! (61 starts in 1970), Driessen (I'd forgotten about that one), Earl Williams, Deron Johnson, Tenace (13 starts in 77).

Here's one I never heard about. Yaz got 2 starts in 1964 and 27 starts in 1973.

That search also turns up a couple of the more absurd ones going the other way. Enos Cabell at 1B of course but did you know the 67 Phils actually gave Tony Taylor (career OPS+ 88) 43 starts at 1B?
   50. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4454976)
Joey Votto was drafted as a catcher, played OF, 3b, C in rookie ball.
   51. PreservedFish Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4454983)
I don't see why Keith Hernandez wouldn't have been an exceptional 3b.
   52. Srul Itza Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4454987)
I find Biggio's name on the article's list a little odd. He played catcher for 3+ years and was an All-Star at the position in 1991. His move from catcher to second was very notable. Hardly a case of forgetting he ever played there.
   53. DL from MN Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4454991)
Hank Aaron started out at 2B. I always wonder with some of these guys if they would have been able to stick at the position if their bat hadn't been so valuable that they flew through the minors.
   54. Downtown Bookie Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4455001)
Steve Garvey- and he came up as a 3B

Everybody spent time at third in the 60s and 70s (and beyond). Killebrew, Allen, Perez, Bob Robertson, George Scott! (61 starts in 1970), Driessen (I'd forgotten about that one), Earl Williams, Deron Johnson, Tenace (13 starts in 77).

Here's one I never heard about. Yaz got 2 starts in 1964 and 27 starts in 1973.


I'm old enough to remember Amos Otis playing third for the Mets.

Of course, the Mets thirdbaseman situation during the period is legendary.

DB
   55. BochysFingers Posted: May 29, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4455047)
Mel Ott (yes, he was)
- Sid Gordon
- Hank Thompson
- Bobby Thomson
- Orlando Cepeda
- Jackie Brandt
- Felipe Alou
- Manny Mota
- Jose Cardenal
- Cap Peterson
- Ken Henderson

And, of course, Hart and Kingman.


And, a few years later, Joel Youngblood.
   56. Greg K Posted: May 29, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4455074)
Scott Hatteberg used to be a catcher before becoming a first baseman.

Yeah, everyone knows that. IT WAS IN AMADEUS!
   57. The District Attorney Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:05 PM (#4455105)
In a strange development, Ott was moved back to 3B at the age of 29; had not only his personal best year but one of the greatest ever according to WAR (8.3 oWAR, 0.5 dWAR - led the league in HR, OBP, OPS+ and runs scored); and then they moved him right back to the OF. So I consider it to be basically a fact that he would have been more valuable as a 3B, since, y'know, he did it. Picking all-time teams would certainly be more fun if Ott were a 3B and Foxx were a C, and I think it would have been plausible...

As mentioned, it's logical for players to be tried at the toughest defensive positions they can conceivably handle until they fail, but it baffles me that anyone thought clumsy slowpokes like Thome and Posada even had a chance to become middle infielders. I know they were more agile then than they were later, but still.
   58. T.J. Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4455116)
Kevin Mitchell played all over the place for the '86 Mets, including (gulp!) 24 games at 2B and 6 in CF.
   59. Gaelan Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:50 PM (#4455160)
Speaking of position changes, go take a look at Stetson Allie's batting line this year. The BABIP looks like it is approaching infinity but it's still pretty good for someone basically starting over.
   60. crict Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4455185)
I'm guessing most forgot that Gary Carter played mostly RF in his first two seasons (he was a catcher in the minors though).
   61. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4455277)
Aaron actually did play a fair number of games at 2B in the majors (mostly in 1955), and the Braves thought seriously about moving him back there when Red Schoendienst got tuberculosis in 1959. Aaron also started at 3B for a few games here and there when Eddie Mathews was out.

As Bill James (among others) has noted, second base was a chronic sore spot for the Braves in 1953. They traded six players and $100,000 to the Pirates for Danny O'Connell (who flopped) after the 1953 season, and then found themselves trading for Schoendienst at the 1957 trading deadline. When Red got tuberculosis in 1959, the Braves tried seven different players there, none of whom started more than 45 games. The 1960s were more of the same - Chuck Cottier, Frank Bolling, Woody Woodward. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that the Braves wasted most of Aaron's career for want of a second baseman.

-- MWE
   62. Moeball Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:18 PM (#4455289)
Well, at least there is one advantage when a guy starts his career getting several games at a position it quickly becomes apparent he cannot play.

My fantasy teams over the years have done quite well because I could use Danny Tartabull at second base or Mark McGwire at third or Kevin Mitchell at short, etc.

Trying to remember recent examples of this but they are escaping me at the moment...
   63. BDC Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:25 PM (#4455294)
My fantasy teams over the years have done quite well because I could use Danny Tartabull at second base or Mark McGwire at third

I've been in dice leagues where it was a leg up to play Ott at 3B or have Foxx catch. Goes against the spirit of the thing, but hey, those guys were great ballplayers. In a way it's not much different from playing Derek Jeter for an entire career at SS :)
   64. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:31 PM (#4455301)
Of all the ex-catchers somehow the one who surprised me the most was BJ Surhoff.
   65. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:55 PM (#4455327)
The one that got away: Greg Luzinski back to first.
   66. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 30, 2013 at 12:26 AM (#4455387)
Carlos Marmol is another used-to-be-a-catcher.
   67. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: May 30, 2013 at 01:49 AM (#4455423)
Here's a recent one that some will find hard to believe. Mike Morse played 55 games at SS for the 2005 Mariners, plus 3 innings over the next 2 years.
   68. Greg K Posted: May 30, 2013 at 05:48 AM (#4455452)
Here's a recent one that some will find hard to believe. Mike Morse played 55 games at SS for the 2005 Mariners, plus 3 innings over the next 2 years.

I recall those days. Him and Jeremy Reed were the future of the Mariners!
   69. flournoy Posted: May 30, 2013 at 08:01 AM (#4455473)
Of all the ex-catchers somehow the one who surprised me the most was BJ Surhoff.


Really? He was never really exclusively a catcher, but he was primarily a catcher for a while in the big leagues when he first came up.

I agree that a lot of those in the list are pretty boring. "Third Baseman X used to be a shortstop!" Well imagine that...
   70. TomH Posted: May 30, 2013 at 08:16 AM (#4455479)
Stan the Man. Hurler before hurting his arm. Turns out making him a 1B-LF-RF-CF who led the league annually in almost every hitting category wasn't such a bad idea.
   71. buddaley Posted: May 30, 2013 at 08:48 AM (#4455501)
Mantle and Aaron have already been mentioned. I haven't seen Bobby Murcer yet who also began as a shortstop. And Bob Lemon started his career as an outfielder before becoming a star pitcher.
   72. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 30, 2013 at 08:58 AM (#4455505)
I've been in dice leagues where it was a leg up to play Ott at 3B or have Foxx catch. Goes against the spirit of the thing, but hey, those guys were great ballplayers.


When I was a kid my friend had that Ethan Allen spinner baseball game and we spent a LOT of time playing it. We would draft teams from the cards he had and landing Babe Ruth was such an enormous advantage. Obviously Babe was ridiculously good but when you could stick him in as your pitcher rather than some generic pitcher who couldn't hit worth a damn...well we made it so the guy who the coin flip for the first pick would get Ruth then the next guy would have the next three picks just to try to even things out.
   73. SOLockwood Posted: May 30, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4455526)
Surprised that noone has mentioned Josh Willingham - catcher.

Of course, there's Bryce Harper drafted as a catcher -- although he didn't play a professional game there.
   74. BDC Posted: May 30, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4455527)
Stan the Man. Hurler before hurting his arm

From that era, too, Ted Williams pitched in high school, and Jackie Jensen in college. Unlike Musial, neither pitched in the pros (though Williams threw an emergency two innings in 1940).
   75. TomH Posted: May 30, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4455537)
I read an anecdote the other day from an old Ernie Harwell book. It claimed that Joe DiMaggio tried a game at first base in 1950, and then categorically refused to ever play there again.
   76. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 30, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4455547)
Watching, via Netflix, the excellent documentary Knuckelball! last night, I learned that Charlie Hough apparently started out at (IIRC) 3B. I thought I remembered that Tim Wakefield did, too, but apparently he was a failed 1B instead.
   77. BDC Posted: May 30, 2013 at 09:52 AM (#4455560)
The game where Joe DiMaggio played first. He went 0-for-4 but handled 13 chances without error. There is a weird play in that game, if you scroll down to the fifth inning, where Jerry Coleman evidently made an error (probably throwing to first base) in an attempt to complete a triple play; the trail runner ended up safe at second and later scored on a hit. I can't be 100% sure that the throw was to first, though, let alone if DiMaggio somehow exacerbated the error.

Oddly enough, since I just mentioned him, one reason to play DiMaggio at 1B was to get young phenom Jackie Jensen into the lineup.
   78. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 30, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4455577)
As mentioned, it's logical for players to be tried at the toughest defensive positions they can conceivably handle until they fail, but it baffles me that anyone thought clumsy slowpokes like Thome and Posada even had a chance to become middle infielders. I know they were more agile then than they were later, but still.


This is interesting - what constitutes failure? For instance, at this point I pretty strongly think Jesus Montero should never catch another game again, and should be made a DH for the rest of this year and trained to play 1B, and be a DH/1B only from here out. He's not good enough a catcher to risk ruining his bat over; let him concentrate on hitting.

I could be wrong but I feel that a guy should always play the toughest defensive position he can handle--but if his bat potentially has a lot of value, tend toward moving him to an easier position if he's struggling in the field and at the plate. If you expect a guy's bat to be most of his value in the majors, let him focus most of his energy on hitting.
   79. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 30, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4455613)
Of all the ex-catchers somehow the one who surprised me the most was BJ Surhoff.


Really?

He was the Matt Wieters of his day, he was supposed to be the "next Johnny Bench" (1st overall pick in 1985)
then he was a starting catcher for 5-6 years...

   80. John M. Perkins Posted: May 30, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4455619)
When the 2002 Macon Braves, in their last year, announced the all-time MBraves team, the brouhaha was naming Chipper Jones at 3B. Jones only played SS here. Jones should have replaced Furcal at SS, with Gator McBride at 3B.
   81. BDC Posted: May 30, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4455621)
clumsy slowpokes like Thome

Thome was tall for a shortstop, and not graceful, but as a kid he had a shortstop's arm. He was an acceptable ML third baseman for several years (including on a really strong pennant-winning team in 1995).

Here's a 1992 baseball card of Thome (I swear it's not a 1992 Albright). He was a trimmer guy than one would think.
   82. thetalkingmoose Posted: May 30, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4455651)
Add Jayson Werth to the list of players originally drafted as a catcher. Here's is 1999 Bowman card showing him in action at the position.
   83. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: May 31, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4456907)
Dave Stieb, Al Fitzmorris, Tom Burgmeier, Troy Percival, Trevor Hoffman, Joel Peralta, Rafael Soriano, James McDonald, Sean Doolittle.

Tim Wakefield.

Mark Hendrickson, Brian Jordan.

Danny Ainge, Drew Henson.

Pat White.

My fantasy teams over the years have done quite well because I could use Danny Tartabull at second base or Mark McGwire at third or Kevin Mitchell at short, etc.

Trying to remember recent examples of this but they are escaping me at the moment...


Pujols. BJ Upton. Marques Colston. Pedroia.

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