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April 7, 2010

You Can Blog It Up

Dead Player of the Day and Other Notes #8

by Steven Goldman

Living Player of the Day 

In which I pick a page from the encyclopedia at random and riff on what I find.

In my last chat, someone asked what would happen if I opened the book to a living player. I said I would call him a live-dead player and go ahead. You've got to take your inspiration where you find it.

Herm Winningham OF-1984-1992 (B. 1961)

Herm, who I recall fellow Jr. High baseball fans referring to as “Sperm Winningham” as we swapped Topps cards, was the kind of speed-based player that was the biggest commodity product in baseball in the 1980s. He was the Mets’ first-round pick in the now-defunct January portion of the amateur draft. The round also produced Rob Murphy, Ron Romanick, Glenn Davis, and Kevin Gross.

Unfortunately, despite some good returns with the bat up through Double-A, he couldn’t hit. He did have a few moments, if you happened to look at the paper at the right time. Playing sporadically in early 1987, he took .280/.362/.500 rates into the first week of June (94 PAs). Unfortunately, that earned him more playing time, and he hit a more characteristic .226/.285/.302 (292 PAs) the rest of the way. A left-handed hitter, he was especially weak against same-side pitchers, batting .233/.253/.329 lifetime against lefties (259 PAs). More positively, on August 15, 1990, he led off for the Reds and went 4-for-6 with three triples in a 12-inning game. In Game 4 of the 1990 World Series, Winningham entered in the second inning as a replacement for Billy Hatcher, who had been hit by a pitch, he had two hits, including an eighth-inning bunt single on which he eventually scored the Series-winning run.

As above, Winningham had a reserve role on the champion 1990 Reds, but his place in history comes from being one of four players (with Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, and Floyd Youmans) the Mets sent to Montreal for Gary Carter in December, 1984. At the opposite end of the spectrum, he was a potential replacement player in 1995. On joining the Expos, he vowed to match Tim Raines steal for steal. It didn't happen. In 1989, during a stretch when he played regularly in place of the injured Eric Davis and Kal Daniels, Winningham said, “Hitting is the only thing keeping me from being a regular.” He had a strong grasp on the obvious, Herm Winningham.

Fun at Orioles with BP on 4/12

We still have some seats open for our ballpark event at Camden Yards. As Will Carroll wrote:

It's the first BP Ballpark Event of the 2010 season! Join Clay Davenport, John Perrotto, Will Carroll, Jay Jaffe, Steven Goldman and other BP writers at Camden Yards at 5:15 pm on April 12th as the Orioles take on the Rays. We'll also be joined by Andy MacPhail, Mike Ferrin from Sirius/XM, and other special guests. For tickets, contact Dan Stahl (dstahl@orioles.com or 410-547-6239). The cost is $25 which includes your ticket to the game. Hope to see you there! It's the first BP Ballpark Event of the 2010 season! Join Clay Davenport, John Perrotto, Will Carroll, Jay Jaffe, Steven Goldman and other BP writers at Camden Yards at 5:15 pm on April 12th as the Orioles take on the Rays. We'll also be joined by Andy MacPhail, Mike Ferrin from Sirius/XM, and other special guests. For tickets, contact Dan Stahl (dstahl@orioles.com or 410-547-6239). The cost is $25 which includes your ticket to the game. Hope to see you there!

Jay Jaffe and I are coming down from New York on the stagecoach, brandishing our pistols so as to frighten off any highwaymen that might interfere. We look forward to seeing you should we survive the perilous journey.

Baseball: Game of the Ancients

The item below was found in or around King Tut's burial site. I saw it on Friday at the Metropolitan Museum or Art in New York and it struck me as an omen for the new season:

As everyone knows, King Tut was a fan, had reserved box seats at every Memphis Floods game. Too bad they never did defeat Heliopolis in his lifetime...

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

8 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Jim Humdingding

Am I the only article skimmer who thought "Herm Winningham is dead?!?!" before seeing the explanation?

Apr 07, 2010 11:09 AM
rating: 0
 
lonechicken

Nope. I did too.

Apr 07, 2010 11:48 AM
rating: 0
 
David Coonce

I love this "player of the day (living or dead)" feature. I often go to B-R and look at random pages, and it's fun to imagine what and who some of these players were. I always thought Herm winningham and Max Venable were the same guy.

Apr 07, 2010 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
lionstar1964

The picture looks like they're at Dodger Stadium and doing The Wave.

Apr 07, 2010 14:18 PM
rating: 0
 
Brian24

I had Winningham on my Statis-Pro team back in 1987 or so. He must have had a great small-sample-size season the previous year, because I remember he was the best hitter on my team despite the fact I'd never heard of him. I batted him second all the time.

Apr 07, 2010 16:21 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

I'm glad that someone else remembers Statis-Pro. My cousin's 1978 set was part of my falling in love with baseball, and I later played all of 1984 and chunks of other seasons.

Apr 07, 2010 17:56 PM
 
David Coonce

I don't remember Statis-Pro but I became infatuated with baseball through Strat-O-Matic and I loved the "small sample size" allstars - Tim Worrell and Randy Ready, 1994 - in a league with no inning or at-bat limits, those were my stars. Worrell's card didn't have a hit or walk allowed on it.

Apr 07, 2010 21:09 PM
rating: 0
 
willco97
(573)

Thanks for the comment on Herm Winningham. He's been the inspiration for my Hacking Mass team ever since it started.

Apr 07, 2010 17:22 PM
rating: 0
 
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