Sunday, January 2, 2011

Book Report: 10 Great (to Good) Final Seasons from 10 Great (to Good) Players

Mike Mussina
2008 New York Yankees
20-9, 3.37 ERA, 150 SO, 1.223 WHIP
39 years old
Comment: The Moose was just a winner. Plain and simple. This 20 win season kinda came out of nowhere and unlike the "I'm retired"/"No I'm not"/"Lather me up with growth hormones" hi jinx of a pair of fellow Yankee hurlers (not naming any names, of course), Mussina quietly excelled at awesomeness and gracefully bowed out with a 20 win season and plenty of class.

Kirby Puckett
1995 Minnesota Twins
0.314/0.379/0.515, 23 home runs, 99 RBI
35 years old
Comment: Puckett could've easily jacked another 1000 or so hits during the Steroids Era, had injuries and "demons" not tag teamed his pudgy ass out of MLB. A sad, sad story, since Puckett was so friggin' likable and so friggin' talented during his Twin City run. RIP.

Tom Henke
1995 St Louis Cardinals
36 saves, 1.82 ERA, 1.104 WHIP, 8.0 SO/9
37 years old
Comment: If it weren't for Dennis Eckersley and his flashy locks during the late Eighties/early Nineties, consummate professional closers like Tom Henke, Doug Jones and Jeff Montgomery would get more love in the eye of baseball historians and fat dudes who live in their parents' basement. Henke's final season in St Louis was especially immense.

Barry Bonds
2007 San Francisco Giants
0.276/0.480/0.565, 28 home runs, 66 RBI
42 years old
Comment: Now that his bulbous head has been gone for a few years, you can really start to appreciate the enormity of what Bonds accomplished. His rate stats, even in a quiet final year, are beyond insane.

John Tudor
1990 St Louis Cardinals
12-4, 2.40 ERA, 1.025 WHIP
36 years old
Comment: Yet another mention of John Tudor in MFS Land. Seriously, this guy could've etched massive career numbers if he just could've stayed healthy. Seasons like his 1990 "swan song" in St Louis show what this subtle saviour was capable of.

Will Clark
2000 Baltimore Orioles/St Louis Cardinals
0.319/0.418/0.546, 21 home runs, 70 RBI
36 years old
Comment: Will Clark was a effin' beast through out his career. Really intense and locked in. The guy quietly hit 0.300 or better in six of his last seven season, all at the age of 30 or older. And a career 0.333 post season average legitimized him as a big money player. He deserves some of the accolades that George Brett received back in the day. Same kind of hitter, really. Better looking, too.

Chili Davis
1999 New York Yankees
0.269/0.366/0.445, 19 home runs, 78 RBI
39 years old
Comment: It's surprising that Chili Davis wasn't more marketable during his career, since he offered a neat-o power/speed combo (at least early on), played in largely mid- to large markets (NY, LA, SF), had a cool nickname and was supposedly a real stand-up dude with reporters and teammates. At least comparable to Dave Parker without the 'tude.

Kenny Lofton
2007 Texas Rangers/Cleveland Indians
0.296/0.367/0.414, 86 runs, 23 SB
40 years old
Comment: Like Rickey Henderson, Lofton played for way too many teams during his twilight years. And yet unlike Rickey, he was still really, really productive through out. A dark horse HOF candidate IMHO. Perfect fodder for the 2031 Veterans Committee.

Mike Greenwell
1996 Boston Red Sox
0.295/0.336/0.441, 7 home runs, 44 RBI
32 years old
Comment: The Gator disappeared quietly in the mid-1990s but he never forgot how to rake off that dainty front pivot toe of his.

Don Mattingly
1995 New York Yankees
0.288/0.341/0.413, 7 home runs, 49 RBI
34 years old
Comment: Mattingly seems a bit overrated since he played in NY his whole career but kinda underrated when you see just how solid his career numbers were. A shame the Yanks started winning World Series's again the year after Donnie Baseball shut 'em down.

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