POTD Gary Sheffield

POTD Gary Sheffield

Toss:  The Tigers release Garry Sheffield. Chop:  Just in case you were wondering about whether he could help the locals any more, no.  Sheffield is 40 now, and last year he did (finally) have his dropoff season (from 6+ runs per game to 4.4). Sheffield first came up with the Brewers as a super-hyped 19-year-old, and I remember him arguing with the Brewers about which position he'd play.  Also vividly remember Dave Neihaus reporting this, and in response to the idea of a 19-year-old asserting himself to an organization, saying with extreme disgust, "What. Is. Next." There aren't many guys who've played a full 20 years and yet stay underrated, but Sheffield has.  He's got a career 141 OPS+ ... multiply that by 20 or so, now ... but he has an incredibly low black ink total.  In other words, he spent his career drawing walks and hitting doubles, not leading the league in homers. Sheffield was Edgar Martinez with 20% more at-bats and better defense.  That said, I'll be shocked if Sheffield makes the HOF, mostly because nobody likes him, but also because he can't point to 40 homers a year, or 3,000 hits, or postseason rampages.  He's got 499 homers, LOL, and with his luck he'll finish at that. That's not to say that Sheffield wasn't a monster.  In the 2000 season he created a staggering 10.5 runs per 27 outs -- hitting .325/.438/.643 with 50% more walks than strikeouts.  (Typically, the season was wasted:  that Dodger team won a lukewarm 86 games and missed the playoffs.) ......................... Sheffield played well for the 2004 and 2005 Yankees, but there you go again:  he played lukewarm in the postseason, and the Yankees did lukewarm in those years. Nor can Sheffield claim the distinction of an Ernie Banks career of frustration:  he did win one championship, one in 20 years, with the Marlins.  He played pretty good that October.  Nothing all that memorable. ........................ In his new Historical Abstract a few years ago, Bill James ranked Sheffield fairly low on his Top 100 Right Fielders list and said something like, "My rule is to rank active players a little lower than I should (because of things that can go wrong, and to counteract his natural bias towards players fresh in his mind).  In Garry Sheffield's case, I have real enthusiasm for this policy!" Sheffield's a strange player.  A gloriously effective hitter, who got money but little credit .... very easy to forget ... and none of us have much problem with that. ............................ Would you rather have Barry Bonds' career, or Yogi Berra's?  :- ) Suppose you could hit 73 home runs in one year, and become by far the best player in the game, and own the alltime HR record, and show the entire world what Babe Ruth used to look like -- while being watched by a whale of a lot more cameras than ever watched The Babe. OR, you could be an underrated great player who owned the victory column -- playing in 13 World Series (!!) and having 9 separate World Series Champion rings to put on your fingers. Well, think about this:  since Yogi retired, he's coached, he's managed, he's broadcast, he's signed autographs, he's hung around the Yankees, he's had days in his honor.  Everybody loves Yogi. Bonds?  The game can't wait for him to leave.  Hopefully never to be seen again. Selfishness is not a growth industry. ......................... As a hitter, though, Sheffield was even better than people thought he was. Cheers, Dr D