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Who are some of the top one-year wonders in baseball history?



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August 6, 2003 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Quantum Leap

0

Nate Silver

Up until this season, my clearest memory of Jose Guillen is as the object of some very unflattering jeering in the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field. The bleacher bums are never kind to opposing outfielders, but Guillen, being young, bad, and foreign, was a particularly vulnerable target. Guillen reacted to the taunts by alternately appearing hopelessly dejected and demonstratively angry, only making matters worse. Though he got his revenge that day--hitting a home run off crowd-favorite/headcase Turk Wendell--I've always had trouble watching him play without the phrase Jo-se-do-you-suck! running warbled, drunken, Francis Scott Off-Key through my head. However cruel, the taunting had proved prescient. Back in 1997, Guillen had time and an abundance of raw talent on his side. Bouncing between four organizations and failing to demonstrate any development, Guillen had regressed to the level of benchwarmer; his career .239 EqA entering the season was below replacement level for a corner outfielder. If not for his powerful right arm (an impressive tool, but overrated in its importance) and his much-tarnished Topps All-Rookie Team trophy, Guillen might have been riding shuttles between Louisville and Chattanooga or selling real estate instead of holding down a fourth outfielder job in the bigs. This season, of course, Guillen has had the last laugh. Easily the most productive hitter on the Reds this year, Guillen filled in admirably for Ken Griffey Jr. Now traded to the A's, he's been charged with the Herculean task of trying to make up for an entire outfield's worth of mediocrity, salvaging Billy Beane's reputation as a deadline dealer nonpareil in the process. But what if Guillen turns back into a pumpkin?

However cruel, the taunting had proved prescient. Back in 1997, Guillen had time and an abundance of raw talent on his side. Bouncing between four organizations and failing to demonstrate any development, Guillen had regressed to the level of benchwarmer; his career .239 EqA entering the season was below replacement level for a corner outfielder. If not for his powerful right arm (an impressive tool, but overrated in its importance) and his much-tarnished Topps All-Rookie Team trophy, Guillen might have been riding shuttles between Louisville and Chattanooga or selling real estate instead of holding down a fourth outfielder job in the bigs.

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One of the longest-lived cliches about sports coverage is the second-guess. The longer I do this, the more I dislike sitting in front of my computer and criticizing the moves of people who are very accomplished in their chosen field. Not because the criticism is undeserved, but because I feel like it doesn't add anything new to the coverage of the game.

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Previous Transaction Analysis

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Signed LHP Kent Mercker and RHP Eric Weaver to minor-league contracts with spring-training NRIs. [1/26]

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Traded RHP Mark Wohlers to the Reds for RHP John Hudek; optioned RHP Mike Cather to Richmond. [4/16]

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Placed LHP Allen Watson on the 15-day DL (strained elbow); recalled 3B/1B Frank Bolick from Vancouver. [5/24]

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Activated UT Randy Velarde from the 15-day DL; placed INF Carlos Garcia on the 15-day DL (broken bat, er... strained hamstring). [5/13]

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