All great things must come to an end. And so to must the career of Willie Bloomquist, he of the lifetime 1.2 WARP. In honor of his retirement, and to look back at his long and editorialized career, let's review 16 years of BP Annual comments about him, as he grew from an overachiever to baseball's most stereotypical stereotype.

Year Comment
2016 The stinging winter rains foretell what we all already know: Willie Bloomquist is gone. But there will be another Willie Bloomquist; there always is. He may have a different name, and a different face, and a different team. But the soul of a Bloomquist is not hindered by mere corporeality, not as long as there are children searching vainly for heroes.
2015 There are fans who felt chagrin at giving literally nonzero dollars to a statistically replacement level baseball player for multiple years. But those people simply don't see all the things that Bloomquist does for the franchise. Like going around the stadium after home games checking all the doors to make sure they're locked. Or calling all the rookies the day before to make sure they've prepared discussion questions for Siddhartha for the team book club. These things don't happen by themselves; they require quiet veteran leadership. The 2003 Tigers took a laissez-faire attitude toward literary discussion, and you can see what happened there. That's why you need Willie Bloomquist.

Is it worth mentioning his extreme "clutch" statistics of late? Since 2012, he has hit .388/.419/.483 with men on. Maybe, like Siddhartha, he has found enlightenment?

2014 Look at that. Eleven seasons in, the often-hecklable Bloomquist managed back-to-back above-average hitting lines! This calls for a celebration of plucky utility infielders. Besides missing three months in separate trips to the DL, Bloomquist completed his two-year, $3.8 million contract as a sound fill-in, having now played every position in his career except pitcher and catcher. Nagging injuries remain a concern, and don't expect him to post another .260-plus TAv, but everybody needs a superutility guy, and Willie's super enough to keep getting looks in that role.
2013 Bloomquist is the type of player you don't mind plugging in in a pinch, but repeatedly seeing his name in the starting lineup brings the risk of night terrors. He cracked a 700 OPS for the first time in his 10-year career last year, though his secondary skills were sorely lacking. He posted a career-worst walk rate, failed to hit a home run, and had a horrific track record on the basepaths. An empty .300 batting average was enough to establish a new career-high in VORP, though he gave a large chunk of that value back with his tepid defense. Willie's stay in Paradise City might be on the verge of expiration, but nobody can take away his multimillion-dollar memories.
2012 Sabermetrician Tom Tango has proposed “Wins Above Willie” as a fitting name for a total-value statistic, and Bloomquist once again showed why last season. His embodiment of a concept that critics say isn't real makes him more valuable as a teaching tool than a player—after a decade in the majors, he’s accumulated just 1.0 WARP, and as he heads into his age-34 season, there is plenty of time for his decline phase to erase even that modest sum. Bloomquist endeared himself to Arizona fans with a scrappy .306 average in April but hit just .257/.315/.323 after returning from a hamstring strain suffered late that month. Aside from his forgettable performance, Bloomquist’s calling card is his flexibility in the field (which boils down to an ability to be bad at a multitude of positions), but Stephen Drew’s injury limited Bloomquist to just three positions in 2011, including a mere one game at second base, since his dubious services were often required at shortstop. One thing Bloomquist has always been able to do is steal at a high rate of success, but even that skill deserted him last season. Nonetheless, he re-signed for two seasons, which he’ll spend battling John McDonald for backup at-bats.
2011 In need of some September depth, the Reds turned to the quintessential replacement player, who delivered a predictably replacement-level performance in his brief time with the team. Since the danger posed by Bloomquist manifests mainly through extended exposure, Walt Jocketty prudently refrained from pulling the trigger until he knew the ex-Royal would be ineligible for the playoff roster. In his 11 games with Cincinnati, Bloomquist showcased his usual versatility, appearing at three positions, but he also failed to post a slugging percentage higher than his OBP, which we could dismiss as a small-sample-size fluke if he hadn’t sustained similarly lopsided lines in two prior seasons. The righty did manage to post a triple-digit seasonal ISO for the first time, but solidified his status as an offensive offender by walking even less frequently than usual. He’s not a bad band-aid, but can become an uncomfortable cast very quickly if the underlying ailment is left untreated.
2010 Bloomquist apologists have long said that success would come if he just got more regular playing time. The Royals, Polyannas of the horsehide, were willing to oblige, but the needle didn’t budge. Bloomquist's “power” came back from his historic brownout of 2008, as he had the highest slugging percentage of his career. Unfortunately, this new “swing for the fences” approach dropped his OBP to its lowest point in four years. Given his ability to play adequate defense at any position in the field besides catcher and pitcher, he can be a valuable asset in limited doses, but there's just no excuse for showing fans this much of him.
2009 Bloomquist became a cult hero in Seattle on the strength of his history as a local boy who failed to make good, but succeeded in making the Mariners—for seven consecutive seasons. He showed more patience at the plate last season, but also experienced a truly historic power outage, as his lone extra-base hit placed him in a tie for the fourth-lowest Isolated Power mark (among non-pitchers) in history. In a pinch, Bloomquist can man any position that doesn't require a mask and a chest protector, but no matter where his managers choose to send him, he ain't nothing like the real thing. Credit the Mariners' new brass for realizing that, bidding him "bye-bye, baby, bye-bye," and letting him walk to Kansas City, where he'll compete for the second base job with Alberto Callaspo.
2008 "Now with 34 percent less Willie Bloomquist!" may not have gotten serious consideration as the Mariners' team slogan for 2007, but it was still good news for their fans.
2007 It`s important to note that, in most cases, when we express exasperation over the performance of a player such as Bloomquist, it`s not really the player that has upset us. Most of these scrappy out-machines give their all on the diamond. As long as he`s doing his best, you can`t blame a player for taking the field when his name`s penciled into the lineup. Bloomquist didn`t force Mike Hargrove to write his .243 EqA into the starting lineup 66 times last year–48 of them starts in the outfield. Bloomquist didn`t force Bill Bavasi to extend his contract through 2008. While current management is in place, we can look forward to two more seasons of Bloomquist being applied as the all-healing balm for anything that ails the Mariners lineup, but that`s not his fault. Then again, refusing the contract for the good of the team would have been a terrifically noble gesture.
2006 He is what he is: a useful defender at multiple positions, a very good base stealer, a fan favorite, and most of all, a terrible hitter handed far too much playing time. The problem isn`t Bloomquist`s flaws so much as the weak rosters the M`s have had, creating too many opportunities for him.? Bloomquist would be a handy 24th or 25th man for a slow, veteran team, but in Seattle he`s an overused roster fob. Less playing time for Bloomquist would mean the Mariners have gotten better results from Reed, Betancourt and Lopez.
2005 When syphilis first attacked humans, it was amazingly virulent and destructive. Pustules quickly covered the body until the poor victim's skin fell off and they died. It was too fast and too obvious. Within a generation, syphilis had evolved. It became far less destructive to the host, instead taking its time tearing up the nervous system, heart, and brain until the host was driven insane or died, the longer life of the host (and their healthier appearance) allowing the virus to spread far more widely.

Willie Bloomquist came up in 2002 and found himself in the spotlight, hitting .455/.526/.576 in a September call-up. He quickly turned to incubation, though, never taking a regular role for long enough to be exposed as worthless, spreading across the field to take root at every position. This kind of infection by local white boys with scrappy personalities is often untreatable, though direct injections of new personnel into the front office does sometimes solve the problem.

It's too late for the Mariners. I would only caution other teams to take a lesson from this and work towards prevention, and ensure that their farm systems exercise protection.

2004 This is a dangerous ballplayer. He's a hustling crowd favorite, and likely to result in lots of banners singing his praises around the ballpark, but between the lines, he's a mediocre utility infielder with offensive potency comparable to guys like Lou Merloni, Jorge Velandia, and James Garner. With Jeff Cirillo's time-lapse decay, Bloomquist had a slight window of opportunity to seize the 3B job, have 600 plate appearances where he hits at a league average, and become a complete lead weight around the neck of the franchise. Overpaying Scott Spiezio over three years at least solves that problem.
2003 Pity poor Willie. Piniella always liked him, loved that scrappy play, and supported his call-up, which got Willie the chance to look good in a short trial, which almost certainly should have made Bloomquist next year’s Gipson, the kind of guy Lou could play all over the place for no reason. Now Lou’s gone, and for all the talk about Bloomquist’s makeup, he’s never hit well for long against good competition, and his glove isn’t good enough to carry his bat. In the past, Piniella reached out to his previous organization to pluck his favorite young players, like Ayala and Wilson when he came to Seattle, but he’s making noises about how he wants to fill the D-Rays’ bench with veterans. It’s more likely the helicopter extraction will be for McLemore than Bloomquist.
2002 You can’t spell Bloomquist without "bust." Scouts like to talk about his makeup and how he does the things that don’t show up in box scores…and they don’t mean his failure to hit. His ability to do all the little things the team likes, from hustling to bunting, means he may well get a chance to hit a hollow .270 and stick with the M’s for two or three painful years. But hey, he looks great in uniform, and his midriff? Stunning. You can’t teach that.
2001 Willie Bloomquist is a local kid who became the apple of Piniella’s eye in spring training with his work ethic and feisty play. He does all the little things that coaches love but that don’t have much bearing on the outcome of a game. Bloomquist is being fast-tracked, and it’s possible that he could emerge with the keystone job this April, even though he’s not ready to contribute offensively and may never be.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
This didn't come out as cool as I hoped but I made a word cloud of all these words:

Was hoping to see "utility" or "replacement" as giant words.
I like how "failed" and "career" are next to each other.
All or parts of 16 major league seasons? I hope I look back at my insurance career some day and find that I was as successful as Willie Bllomquist.