Friday, February 8, 2008

More Pre-Free Agency Movers

When I started making my list of players who moved around a lot before free agency, I originally planned to include the guys who played for eight different franchises before realizing it would make the post too long. Since I got through about five players anyway, I figured I might as well post about them today. Below is the list of the thirteen players who played for eight different franchises between 1901 and 1975.
  • Jim Delahanty - 1901-1915
    Franchises: Cubs, Giants, Braves, Reds, Browns, Senators, Tigers, Tip-Tops (Federal League)

    One of five brothers to make the major leagues, Jim spent time as a starting second baseman and an all-around utility player, appearing everywhere except catcher. He was pretty good with the bat during the deadball era, posting an OPS+ of 122. He was released at least twice and traded at least four times (transactions data that far back is sketchy).
  • Jack Quinn - 1909-1933
    Franchises: Yankees, Braves, Terrapins (Federal League), White Sox, Red Sox, Athletics, Dodgers, Reds

    Most players who play in four decades debut as teenagers. Not so with Mr. Quinn, who played his first major league game at the ripe old age of 25. Showing incredible longevity for a righthander, he transitioned from starter to reliever at the age of 46 and even garnered MVP votes in 1931 at the age of 47. He was traded at least twice, waived at least once, jumped leagues once, and released at least twice.
  • Babe Dahlgren - 1935-1946
    Franchises: Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, Cubs, Browns, Dodgers, Phillies, Pirates

    Primarily a first baseman, Dahlgren spent time at third base, shortstop, and catcher during World War II. A generally underwhelming hitter (career OPS+: 92), he nonetheless did well against wartime pitchers and received MVP votes three times. He was an all-star in 1943, which did nothing to keep him in Philadelphia. He was purchased (traded for cash) six times, traded for players twice, and released at the end of his career.
  • Bob Kuzava - 1946-1957
    Franchises: Indians, White Sox, Senators, Yankees, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals

    A nondescript lefty, Kuzava saw time as a starter and reliever during his career. Unfortunately, he wasn't particularly good in either role. There's something to be said, however, for doing just well enough to make your career last ten seasons. He was traded three times, purchased twice, and waived two times.
  • Bill Wight - 1946-1958
    Franchises: Yankees, White Sox, Red Sox, Tigers, Indians, Orioles, Reds, Cardinals

    Another lefthander, Wight spent most of his career as a starter. His career ERA+ was 103, so he literally was quite average. Perhaps the weirdest thing about his statistics is the fact he issued 714 walks against 574 strikeouts and still did well. Of course, he pitched in the late 40's and 50's in the American League, and it wasn't uncommon to see high walk totals. Wight was traded five times, waived once, and released twice.

  • Dave Philley - 1941-1962
    Franchises: White Sox, Athletics, Indians, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox

    I must admit I was glad to see Philley was a member of Philly teams twice in his career. A switch-hitting outfielder, he also briefly spent time at first base and third base. Not a particularly good hitter overall (career OPS+: 91), he nevertheless had a few good seasons with the bat and received MVP votes three times. More interesting to me is the fact he led the league in three categories once in his career: he had the most GIDP (29) in the AL during 1952, was caught stealing the most (16) in the 1947 AL, and made the most outs (499) of any American Leaguer in 1950. But hey, you can't win if you don't play, right? Philley was traded five times, purchased (traded for cash) four times, waived once, and released three times.

  • Johnny Klippstein - 1950-1967
    Franchises: Cubs, Reds, Dodgers, Indians, Senators, Phillies, Twins, Tigers

    Klippstein followed a relatively common career path: start out as an underwhelming starter and morph into a pretty decent reliever. Once he became a full-time reliever, he was apparently in high demand around the league: he played for seven different teams from 1958-1964. He was traded three times in his career, purchased three times, drafted from other teams three times, and released twice.

  • Ted Savage - 1962-1971
    Franchises: Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Reds, Brewers, Royals

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Ted Savage's given name, Ephesian, is unique in baseball history. Savage was essentially a fourth outfielder, playing in more than 100 games three times in his nine seasons. That's right, he played for eight franchises in only nine seasons. His best season came in 1970 for Milwaukee: he hit an out-of-character .279/.402/.482 with 12 home runs in 276 at bats. Unfortunately, he was 34 and washed out of the league the very next season. Savage was traded five times and purchased twice.

  • Moe Drabowsky - 1956-1972
    Franchises: Cubs, Braves, Reds, Athletics, Orioles, Royals, Cardinals, White Sox

    Maybe it was all the pranks that led to his being moved around the league so much. His career is similar to Klippstein's: a righthanded starter with middling results who was moved to the bullpen and proved a durable reliever. In the grand scheme of things, he might not be a particularly notable player, but someone has to be the best product of Connecticut's Trinity College. Drabowsky was signed as a bonus baby, traded three times, drafted three times, purchased twice, and released twice.

  • Juan Pizarro - 1957-1974
    Franchises: Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Red Sox, Indians, Athletics, Cubs, Astros

    Pizarro was a lefthanded starter turned lefthanded long reliever. He was actually a pretty good starter, being selected as an All-Star in 1963 and 1964. In 1965, he only made 18 starts due to what looks like recurring injuries. He never was a full-time starter again but muddled along as an average reliever for almost another decade. Pizarro was traded five times, purchased three times, and released twice.

  • Orlando Pena - 1958-1975
    Franchises: Reds, Athletics, Tigers, Indians, Pirates, Orioles, Cardinals, Angels

    Pena is another righthander shifted from the rotation to the bullpen after a couple seasons. He has a pretty nice career ERA+, 102, considering he spent a lot of time as a middle reliever. He was traded three times, waived once, purchased four times, and released three times.

  • Deron Johnson - 1960-1976
    Franchises: Yankees, Athletics, Reds, Braves, Phillies, Brewers, Red Sox, White Sox

    Johnson was a power-hitting third baseman/first baseman/outfielder during his career. He had over thirty home runs twice, but never put up very appealing batting averages and struck out a lot. His career line is a pedestrian .244/.311/.420 (career OPS+: 102), but he had 1447 career hits, 245 of them home runs. Nothing to sniff at, surely. He was traded five times, purchased three times, and released twice.

  • Tommy Davis - 1959-1976
    Franchises: Dodgers, Mets, White Sox, Pilots/Brewers, Astros, Athletics, Cubs, Orioles, Angels, Royals

    Alright, alright, he actually played for ten teams, but two of them were in 1976, the year after free agency was recognized. I'm including him anyway because a) it took a while for guys to actually become free agents around the league and b) he was outright released by the Orioles during the 1975-1976 offseason rather than becoming eligible for free agency. In any event, he played for eight franchises before 1976 even started. Davis was a solid outfielder in his career. He led the National League in batting average, hits, and RBI in 1962 and followed that performance up with another batting title in 1963. He didn't walk often, however, so once his batting average started to dip, so too did his on base percentage and slugging percentage. He finished with 2121 career hits in 1999 games, as well as a .294/.329/.405 line, good for a 108 OPS+. Davis was traded four times, drafted in an expansion draft, purchased three times, and released five times.

No comments: