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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

37 MLB Players Destined to Become ‘Guys’ Who Will Be Remembered

Over the weekend, I went and visited my parents in the D.C. suburbs, ostensibly to help them move some things ahead of retirement but mostly to go through a bevy of things from my childhood that they needed either to toss or put in storage. That’s how I chanced upon the three binders of baseball cards I’d collected as a kid from around the age of eight to about 12 or 13, and while that means I didn’t get a start until the mid-1990s, I was still pulling cards from the hobby’s heyday of the 80s, particularly the end of the decade, which produced enough cards to build a bridge to the moon. But digging through baseball cards from 20–30 years ago is an exercise not so much in nostalgia as in sudden reminders of players who briefly existed, played and vanished—players who, despite careers of little impact, still had carved out space in my brain. I was, in other words, Remembering Some Guys.

The idea of Remembering A Guy is one pioneered by Deadspin’s David Roth, who has built a small cottage industry out of plucking semi-obscure names from the depths of the sport and resurrecting them online. There are no exact qualifications for what makes a Guy; like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on obscenity, you know one when you see one. Stan Belinda was a Guy; Carlos Baerga was a Guy; Ty Wigginton was very much a Guy. They’re players whose careers weren’t dotted with accolades or gaudy stats, but who hung around regardless, becoming mildly memorable in the process. They’re the baseball equivalent of That Guy in movies, usually a veteran character actor like Michael Ironside or Zeljko Ivanek who pops up in turgid action movies as a military officer or as a supporting character in a half-baked network drama about Powerful Bad People. The quintessential Guy was on five different teams in a seven-year career as a utility infielder, fourth outfielder or back-of-the-rotation starter. He also probably had a huge mustache.

Remembering Some Guys isn’t confined entirely to baseball; the NBA and NFL produced scores of Guys as well. But MLB seems to have the lion’s share of them, likely because of the preponderance of old baseball cards floating around the world that documented not just the game’s greatest stars but also the dudes on its edges. Those cards were the great democratizer: Everyone got one, even the lowliest of the low. Players whose MLB lives consisted of no more than a few weeks in September still got the card treatment; that helped ensure a steady supply of Guys.

But while flipping through those old cards, I got to wondering: Who will be the Guys of tomorrow? Who will endure through the mists of time to get recollected a decade or two from now? Who will get name-checked out of nowhere by a president for being a very big, very strong guy?

Remembrance of Players Past, or In Search of Lost Athletes

 

QLE Posted: September 18, 2019 at 12:42 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: players

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: September 18, 2019 at 04:40 AM (#5880315)
That seems a very loose definition of a "guy." Baerga is a 3-time AS who received MVP votes and had a season over 6 WAR and another over 5 and 20 WAR for his career and was the target of a lopsided Mets trade. Arguably he became a "guy" at that point but it was precisely because he was briefly awesome and teams hoped he might be awesome again. So he not only coulda been somebody, he was somebody.

Also possibly "guy" here is a higher standard than I might use it. I mean, I remember Gene Hiser and (for a non-Cub) Jim Mason. Obviously it's perfectly OK to focus on long-serving "guys" ... as long as we all agree Baerga is clearly more than a "guy." What "guy" thresholds do we want to use? Is Daniel Descalso average or lower borderline guy? I'd think Wigginton is probably over the upper border of a "guy" -- no he wasn't a very good player but he had 4 qualifying seasons, got RoY votes, actually made an AS team and just missed on 5000 PAs. He does have the "guy" characteristic of playing for 8 different teams while only being traded once.

   2. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 18, 2019 at 08:42 AM (#5880322)
Stan Belinda set in motion an extremely famous play.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2019 at 08:45 AM (#5880324)
I like this, but I think the players are too random. In the past I've sketched out a similar idea, with a stupid name, like the "Hall of Players that Aren't Quite Very Good but are Still Worth Remembering."

Off the top of my head, the Guys I prefer to remember are guys like Tony Batista, Wily Mo Pena, Byung Hyun Kim, Paul Byrd, Tsuyoshi Shinjo ... players that were immediately recognizable as unique, but ultimately weren't really that good, or maybe even bad. Their watchability:quality ratio was all wacky.

For today's game, maybe players like Khris Davis (only 12 WAR!), Rougned Odor, Eric Hosmer, Derek Dietrich, Nick Ahmed, Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner ... you've also got the fluke players like Terrance Gore and Carter Capps that deserve their own little slices of immortality.
   4. Lars6788 Posted: September 18, 2019 at 08:52 AM (#5880327)
It seems like a personal thing - I’d be happy cutting 25 names from the 37 listed in the story and adding my own guys.

My definition of ‘guys’ are those you end up actually remembering, who might be one-time stars but mostly rank-and-file players who were destined to be forgotten as most players are - guys who might have had a little run as a fan favorites or probably accomplished a memorable feat.

Someone like Mike Trout wouldn’t be on the list because he’s the best player on the planet but teammate David Fletcher should make Angels’ fans lists.

For a Yankees’ fans, Brett Gardner makes their lists but not a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury or Giancarlo Stanton.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2019 at 09:11 AM (#5880332)
Brett Gardner has been a good player for a while. He's almost too good for such a list. 10+ years, 40+ WAR, that's easily prime HOVG territory.

His teammate Luke Voit, however, has Guy written all over him.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 18, 2019 at 09:38 AM (#5880339)
Brett Gardner has been a good player for a while. He's almost too good for such a list. 10+ years, 40+ WAR, that's easily prime HOVG territory.

Yeah, he's only played 12 years, and there are guys worse than him in the HoF.
   7. My name is RMc and I feel extremely affected Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:07 AM (#5880347)
Would Mark Fidrych qualify, or was he too famous? Hell, he's still the only athlete to make the cover of Rolling Stone.
   8. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:08 AM (#5880348)
I'm not sure if I got a handle yet on how we differentiate between Guy and minor cult figure. Like Derek Dietrich was definitely a Guy in Miami (partly because of the Marlins' genericizing effect) but 2019 DD is a different thing - plays less, the weird skill set got WEIRDER, the swag became better known.



   9. Nasty Nate Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:11 AM (#5880351)
The quintessential Guy was on five different teams in a seven-year career as a utility infielder, fourth outfielder
Yet inevitably the list of Guys is full of players who were starters for a few years (as it should be).
   10. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:16 AM (#5880354)
I'm not sure if I got a handle yet on how we differentiate between Guy and minor cult figure.


I think I lump them together. It's any relatively unimportant player that is worth remembering.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5880359)

I think I lump them together. It's any relatively unimportant player that is worth remembering.


To me, Brian Doyle is the ultimate in this. 214 career PAs with an OPS+ of 11 (Yes eleven), but in the 1978 World Series he goes 438/438/500/938 with 4 runs and 2 RBIs. Of course he loses the WS MVP to Bucky Bleeping Dent. Hell of year for Bucky.
   12. Itchy Row Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5880361)
Guy Hoffman wasn’t a Guy.
   13. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: September 18, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5880378)
Was Wily Mo Pena the guy who hit a laser that just about punched a hole in the Green Monster?
   14. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: September 18, 2019 at 12:54 PM (#5880403)
Most of my Guys would just be cult Cub heroes.... Hector Villanueva.... Doug Dascenzo... Shawon Dunston....
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 18, 2019 at 01:01 PM (#5880407)
Francisco Cabrera
   16. Snowboy Posted: September 18, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5880408)
Calvin Murray
Drafted twice in the first round. Makes AAA by age 21, but not the majors until 27. Spends all of age 31 and most of age 32 seasons in the minors, but got a last sip in September 2004 (on a Cubs team actually full of Guys.) Spent age 33 in the minors, hit 297/380/407, and that was all she wrote. Known as a speedy outfielder who could handle CF at Pacific Bell Park. 328SB in minors (107CS) but only 22SB in majors (11CS). Was a Scott Boras client, but never caught on long enough to make any real money. Hit 8 HR in MLB, and one that didn't count yet almost took my glove off was ripped during spring training 2003, in Surprise AZ. It's on my shelf.
   17. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: September 18, 2019 at 01:10 PM (#5880409)
Cubs team actually full of Guys


No.

I veto anyone from F Troop being eligible as a Guy. It cannot happen. It MUST not happen.
   18. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 18, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5880410)
Yeah, Carlos Baerga is a little too successful and famous to be a "cult hero". 3 All-Star nods. 1580 career hits.

I think there are two kinds of cult heroes. We have heightened memories of those who did one or two important things in a great season. From the Phillies point of view I refer to Eric Bruntlett, Matt Stairs and Joe Blanton. And then we have players who were around at a less great time, but sort of embodied that time. Let's say Ben Revere or Odubel Herrera.
   19. Snowboy Posted: September 18, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5880428)
@Zonk: LOL

@Crispix: I have an "In Case of Emergency: Use STAIRS" t-shirt. So, yeah, he's a Guy for me.
   20. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: September 18, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5880478)
Gio Gonzalez, a 30 WAR 20 game winner who choked away multiple playoff series yet was still mysteriously a fan favorite is definitely not "a guy".
   21. Sit down, Sleepy has lots of stats Posted: September 18, 2019 at 04:14 PM (#5880516)
I’ve been pretty out of it this year but I was surprised to see Greg Garcia still playing.

Cardinals guys of recent memory:

Greg, skip schumaker, Aaron miles, hector luna, John Rodriguez, tommy edman?
   22. Walt Davis Posted: September 18, 2019 at 05:46 PM (#5880543)
Hmmm ... I'd think "guy" would sorta rule out "cult hero." I would think "memorable" as in "memorable to a baseball fan not a team/casual fan." Y'know a guy you know because his name pops up 6 times a year while you're watching your team's games. Mike Benjamin was a guy. Jerry Hairston Sr, Jr and Scott were all guys. (Jr maybe lasted too long -- 16 seasons! -- to be a guy.) Jay Johnstone might have been a "guy" and a "cult hero" but Greg Gross was just a guy. Mark Carreon was a guy. Rajai Davis turned out to be a long-serving guy. David Murphy was a guy.

You know how when a team hits March and doesn't have a LF, they find a guy.

Only an entitled Yanks fan could consider Gardner a guy. Not only has he been a very good player, he's only played for one team. That's not a guy, that's one of your own. You don't even have to be particularly good -- Paul Konerko is not a guy.

And yes, whenever a guy lands on the Cards, you can pretty much guarantee it will be the best year of his career. For the last 20+ years, their rosters have been 3 stars and 22 guys.
   23. Hot Wheeling American Posted: September 18, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5880548)
Shinjo and Wigginton were already named, so for turn of the century Mets, I'll go...Turk Wendell. Maybe Jay Payton? Saying no to Agbayani, John Maine and Rick Reed.
   24. Lars6788 Posted: September 18, 2019 at 06:30 PM (#5880551)
Saying no to Agbayani, John Maine and Rick Reed.


As a non-Mets baseball fan who was aware of my share of players at the turn of the century, I would say yes to Agbayani [Benny and the Mets was a thing for a little bit], no to Maine [he was a disappointment] and yes to Reed [this guy emerged as a longtime journeyman and had his best big league years with the Mets].
   25. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 18, 2019 at 06:42 PM (#5880553)
Rick Reed was also pretty well known for being a former replacement player during the strike. But yeah, Reed was as responsible as anyone for the Mets' return to respectability in the late 90s -- he was their best pitcher in 1997, before the Mets traded for Al Leiter or Mike Hampton.
   26. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: September 18, 2019 at 06:54 PM (#5880554)
Turk Wendell may make the cut as a Guy who wasn't just a Cub... though, he might be more cult hero than a Guy. Interesting, quirky fellow... some success but at least at first pass, no either glorious nor crippling moments.

If quirky cult heroes cannot be a Guy....

Vance Law and Steve Buechele might be Guys... Ron Cey was my favorite Cub growing up, so after him - just like the Cubs until Aramis Rameriz - it was a desperate search for a meaningful 3B. The Gary Scotts and Kevin Ories didn't make it.... so Law or Buechele were the most Guy not to be terrible.
   27. Perry Posted: September 18, 2019 at 07:34 PM (#5880557)
Dear Mr. President,

There are too many guys nowadays. Please eliminate 3.

PS I am not a crackpot.

   28. Copronymus Posted: September 18, 2019 at 08:13 PM (#5880563)
If we're basing this on the Remembering Some Guys videos, the archetypal Guy is Dan Pasqua, so that's the level of player that really encompasses a Guy to me. He's come up in the videos for two reasons: 1) he played right through the heyday of the 80s/early 90s baseball card boom so there are a ton of cards of him floating around and 2) there's a funny story about him being impersonated by a con artist to make some cheap scores around New Jersey based solely on low-level name recognition from having had one good season as Yankee.

I guess the idea here is that a true Guy is someone you'd see a baseball card of 20 years from now and, without having thought about them in the last decade, have something specific and hopefully kind of offbeat to say about, as opposed to, "oh, right, he was a backup catcher for a while".
   29. The Mighty Quintana Posted: September 18, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5880568)
The ultimate "guy" would have:

Funny stance
Funny Name
Funny glasses and or helmet
A fluke season
Can envision him hitting fungoes at 65

Eric Sogard!
   30. Topher Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:03 PM (#5880584)
Derek Bell seems like a very good candidate. 8 full time seasons. About half of them he was above average. Finished with a true flourish with Operation Shutdown.
   31. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:05 PM (#5880585)
Daniel Nava.

Hit a salami on the first pitch he ever saw, had a few season's where he was an OBP guy, but largely unforgettable but to me he'll always be one those "guys"

Butch Hobson was a just a guy who manned 3B(and not very well!) for the Red Sox in the mid 70's and had a memorable name because Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a memorable movie from my youth.
   32. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:06 PM (#5880586)
For me the Guy will always be the Detroit Tigers' career leader in batting strikeouts, freak athlete, and holder of the 70th-most Total Zone Runs: Brandon Inge.
   33. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:46 PM (#5880597)
Double post.
   34. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 18, 2019 at 10:47 PM (#5880598)
Derek Bell also had a lot of personality. Link
   35. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 18, 2019 at 11:13 PM (#5880607)
For me the Guy will always be the Detroit Tigers' career leader in batting strikeouts, freak athlete, and holder of the 70th-most Total Zone Runs: Brandon Inge.

Inge was of course mostly a Tiger, but the thing that sticks out most to me is his relatively minor role on the 2012 A's; he largely exemplified the both the team's spare parts construction and the success that came out of it. In particular, his last full game that year was on August 11, in which he dislocated his shoulder in the seventh inning, and then drove in the go-ahead run with a double an inning later.

Oh, and he was replaced at third base by Josh Donaldson, so the A's came out of things all right despite his injury.
   36. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2019 at 11:15 PM (#5880608)
I often wonder if Derek Bell still lives on a boat. Yeah, that's right, "often."
   37. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:41 AM (#5880657)
Marcus Giles may be too successful, and Casey Kotchman not successful enough, so how about Kelly Johnson.

The ultimate might be Dan Johnson. He played in parts of 10 seasons, completely unremarkable career, except for OH YEAH, THAT TIME HE SAVED THE SEASON IN THE 9TH INNING OF GAME #162.
   38. Davo Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5880788)
Baseball-Reference.com’s Career Leaders & Records for Strikeouts per 9 IP

There’s some funny stuff here because they only require 1,000 career innings to qualify, so, Yu Darvish is #1 (and 12 of the top 16 are active).

But my FAVORITE is “that guy” Oliver Perez popping up in 14th place—just behind Nolan Ryan!
   39. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:20 PM (#5880857)

Every year I am surprised to learn that Oliver Perez is still in the league.

To me, he will always be the guy cheering as Endy Chavez bails him out with one of the greatest catches of all-time in Game 6 of the 2006 NLCS.
   40. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 19, 2019 at 08:36 PM (#5880958)
Joe Orsulak could have played the lead in The Guys of Navarone.
   41. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 19, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5880961)
Brock Holt seems like a “guy.” He’s had a nice little career for himself, has a bit of history to his credit (first post-season cycle) and a ring but ultimately he’s not someone who I think will be widely remembered.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:48 PM (#5881007)
The ultimate "guy" would have:

Funny stance
Funny Name
Funny glasses and or helmet
A fluke season
Can envision him hitting fungoes at 65



Bip Roberts.
   43. RJ in TO Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:53 PM (#5881012)
The ultimate might be Dan Johnson. He played in parts of 10 seasons, completely unremarkable career, except for OH YEAH, THAT TIME HE SAVED THE SEASON IN THE 9TH INNING OF GAME #162.


The next year, in Game #162, he hit three homers.
   44. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:28 PM (#5881103)
The ultimate might be Dan Johnson. He played in parts of 10 seasons, completely unremarkable career, except for OH YEAH, THAT TIME HE SAVED THE SEASON IN THE 9TH INNING OF GAME #162.

The next year, in Game #162, he hit three homers.

And last year, at 38 years old, he went 18-for-72 with the Lincoln (NE) Saltdogs of the American Association independent league.
Over an 18-year career, Johnson played for Vancouver, Modesto, Sacramento, Midland, Mesa, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Durham, Yokohama, Chicago, Charlotte, Baltimore, Scranton, Norfolk, Toronto, Buffalo, St. Louis, Memphis, Louisville, Tulsa, St. Paul, Bridgeport, Long Island, Puebla, Leon, and Lincoln.
RESPECT.


Also, was September 28, 2011 the craziest day in baseball history? Right up there with 1908 for end-of-season madness.

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