I’ve wanted to do another one these for a while now and to tie it in with the 1986 TSM Baseball Simulation League (only two spots left, sign up today!) so figured I should pick a team from 1986 which is about as much thought as I put into picking the ’86 Texas Rangers for this entry, although they had a very interesting, young outfield.
The Rangers were coming of a 99 loss season in 1985 and were fielding one of the younger teams in the league entering the ’86 season. They would spend a good portion of the first half of the season in first place in the A.L. West but lost the lead for good in early July to the eventual division champion Angels. The stayed within striking distance through most of August but the Angels were able to coast to the division crown in September.
C: Don Slaught (.264/.308/.449, 14.5 VORP, 11.6 Win Shares) – Good hitting catcher but was rarely used full-time due to his poor defense. Rangers acquired him a four team deal before the ’85 season and he would be traded three more times in his career. Traded to the Yankees after the ’87 season he then signed with the Pirates in 1990 where he would have his longest tenure and best years. Signed with the Reds in 1996 but was dealt to the Angels before ever playing a game in Cincinnati, then traded in waiver deadline deal later that year to the White Sox. Signed with San Diego in 1997 but was released in May which marked the end of his career.
1B: Pete O’Brien (.290/.385/.468, 40.4 VORP, 23.9 Win Shares) – This was a career year for O’Brien during a solid four year stretch from ’83 to ’87. Rangers would trade him in a package deal to the Cleveland for Julio Franco following the ’88 season. Signed a four year deal with the Mariners after 1989 which ended up being a complete disaster for Seattle.
2B: Toby Harrah (.218/.332/.367, 3.1 VORP, 6.6 Win Shares) – Last season of a 17 year career spent primarily as a third baseman and shortstop. Had an excellent plate patience (had a career high .432 OBP at age 36 a year earlier) and hit for decent power but was very poor defensively.
3B: Steve Buechele (.243/.302/.410, 2.4 VORP, 12.2 Win Shares) – Ever have one of those players that you irrationally hated when you were younger and can’t remember why? Buechele was one of those guys for me. Pretty good defense but never much with the bat. Traded to Pittsburgh in a waiver deal in 1991 who then would trade him midseason the following year to the Cubs. Released by them in 1995, he then returned for I suppose a nostalgia return to the Texas that lasted 19 days.
SS: Scott Fletcher (.300/.360/.400, 35.5 VORP, 19.9 Win Shares) – Another career year here, I already talked about him in the 1992 Milwaukee Brewers entry.
OF: Ruben Sierra (.264/.302/.476, 9.4 VORP, 11.2 Win Shares) – Gary Ward was the primary left fielder this season for the Rangers and had a few more plate appearances but I couldn’t pass up talking about “The Village Idiot.” Never became the next Roberto Clemente as some had pegged him, he showed a lot of promise early in his career with a couple of outstanding years in 1989 and 1991 but peaked in his mid-20’s. Traded in a blockbuster deadline deal to the A’s in 1992 for a rat piece of shit. I was thrilled at the time but after the ’92 season Sierra decided to bulk up and become more of a power hitter which did not pay off. Had very much worn out his welcome by 1995 and was traded to the Yankees for fellow disgruntled outfielder Danny Tartabull. Traded again almost exactly a year later to the Tigers for Cecil Fielder who would toss him off to the Reds following season. For the next ten years he bounced to the Blue Jays, White Sox, Mets (minors only), Indians, back to the Rangers, Mariners, Rangers yet again, Yankees again, and finally the Twins in 2006. Did sign a minor league deal with the Mets last season but nothing came of it.
CF: Oddibe McDowell (.266/.341/.427, 23.1 VORP, 19.8 Win Shares) – Quite possibly the greatest first name in the history of first names, this was as good as would get for Oddibe as his career flamed pretty quick. Was part of the deal for Julio Franco following the ’88 season, wouldn’t last very long in Cleveland as they dealt him to the Braves midseason in ’89. Put up some solid numbers in half a season with Atlanta but came back down to earth again the following year. Didn’t appear in the Majors between 1991 and 1993 before making a return to the Rangers in 1994 as a back up.
RF: Pete Incaviglia (.250/.320/.463, 16.4 VORP, 16.1 Win Shares) – There was a lot of buzz about Incaviglia going into the season as he made the Rangers without playing a single game in the minors after putting up record numbers at Oklahoma State. Certainly had a lot of power but his inability to make consistent contact kept his homerun totals down as the 30 he hit this season as rookie would end up being a career high. Was released by the Rangers before the 1991 season, would spend the next two years in Detroit and Houston. In 1993 he signed with the Phillies where he made a pretty good contribution as a platoon player on their pennant winning team. Spent one more season there before playing a year Japan and then returning to Philly in 1996. They would trade him a waiver deadline deal to Baltimore later that year, would bounce around to three more teams and was out of the Majors after 1998.
DH: Larry Parrish (.276/.347/.509, 32.6 VORP, 16.7 Win Shares) – Already discussed him in the 1980 Montreal Expos entry, this was one of his best seasons.
Charlie Hough (114 ERA+, 33.2 VORP, 14.2 Win Shares) – It’s amazing when you look back at Hough’s career that he wasn’t a regular starting pitcher until age 34. The knuckeballer was 38 at this point (looked 50) and was in the middle of the best stretch of his career. Signed as a free agent with the White Sox after 1990, spent two years there and then was part of the expansion Marlins for the final two years of his career.
Ed Correa (102 ERA+, 27.8 VORP, 10.3 Win Shares) – Correa was only 20 years old and this was his only full season in the Majors. Had 189 strikeouts but also 126 walks so I’ll just guess he threw hard but had no clue where it was going most of the time. Played just one more year in the Majors.
Bobby Witt (79 ERA+, -2.2 VORP, 3.4 Win Shares) – This was Witt’s rookie year and he clearly wasn’t ready. In his first two seasons he threw 300 1/3 innings and walked 283 batters. Yikes. Only had one good year in 1990 and would be part of the before mentioned Sierra/Shit trade in 1992 to Oakland. Signed with the Marlins in 1995 but would be traded back to Texas later that season. Dealt to the Cardinals in 1998, he became a nomad the rest of his career but did pick up a World Series ring in his final year in 2001 with Diamondbacks.
Jose Guzman (95 ERA+, 10.2 VORP, 6.1 Win Shares) – Yet another young pitcher, I always thought he was Juan Guzman’s brother but I was wrong. After a decent year in 1988 shoulder problems would cost him full two seasons but did comeback to have two more solid years in Texas. He parlayed that into a lucrative four year deal with the Cubs which was good for him and bad for the Cubs as his arm problems returned in 1994 and didn’t pitch a single inning for them the last two years of the deal.
Closer: Greg Harris (152 ERA+, 30.4 VORP, 14.3 Win Shares) – This was the only year that Harris was really a closer per say as most of his career was a long reliever/swingman. Had several stops in his career with his longest being in Boston from 1989 to 1994. His claim to fame is that in this game (next to last appearance of his career) as a member of the Expos he became the only pitcher in the 20th century to throw from both sides of the mound.