Strong Island's Finest: Positional Players

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In honor of the U.S. Open out at Bethpage this weekend, let’s look at
the greatest baseball players from Long Island, or Strong Island for
all you meatheads, in Major League history. First, the position
players:

Carl Yastrzemski, Southampton. 23 seasons with Red Sox … 452 HR,
1844 RBI, .285/.379/.462 … .369 AVG, 4 HR in 17 postseason games … 1967
A.L. MVP & Triple Crown Winner … 18 All-Star games … 7 Gold Gloves
… Hall of Fame in 1989.

Craig Biggio, Smithtown. 20 seasons with Astros … 291 HR, 1175
RBI, .281/.363/.433 … 414 SB (50 in 1998) … 668 2B, 5th all-time … 285
HBP, 2nd all-time … 7 All-Star games … 4 Gold Gloves … successful
transition from catcher to second baseman … dirtiest helmet ever.

John Valentin, Mineola. 11 seasons with Red Sox and Mets … 124
HR, 558 RBI, .279/.360/.454 … 47 2B in 1997 led A.L. … .347 AVG, 5 HR
in 17 postseason games.

A.J. Pierzynski, Bridgehampton. 12 seasons (and counting) with
Twins, Giants, and White Sox … 104 HR, 516 RBI, .284/.326/.428 … 2
All-Star games … traded to SF for Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano …
2005 World Series Champion … 27 GIDP in 2004 led N.L. … .300 AVG, 5 HR
in 30 postseason games … thrown out 3 of 41 base stealers in 2009 (7%).

Frank Catalanotto, Smithtown. 13 seasons (and counting) with Tigers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Brewers … 83 HR, 449 RBI, .292/.358/.448.

Tony Graffanino, Amityville. 13 seasons (and counting) with
Braves, Devil Rays, White Sox, Royals, Red Sox, Brewers, and Indians …
58 HR, 302 RBI, .265/.335/.394 … .231 AVG in 15 postseason games … once
traded for Tanyon Sturtze, who is definitely slightly crazy.

Keith Osik, Port Jefferson. 10 seasons with Pirates, Brewers,
Orioles, and Nationals … 13 HR, 108 RBI, .231/.308/.321 … 2 relief
pitching appearances, 2.0 IP, 9 ER, 2 K … threw out 29% of potential
base stealers.

Tom Veryzer, Port Jefferson. 12 seasons with Tigers, Indians,
Mets, and Cubs … 14 HR, 231 RBI, .241/.283/.294 … 9 SB, 23 CS … 2
seasons with 20+ errors at shortstop.

We’ll see a leaner Yasiel Puig in 2017. Just like we did in 2016.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers tips his hat to Vin Scully as he announces his final home game for the Dodgers during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.

After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.

What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:

Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.

A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?

Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.

Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.

If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?

Corey Dickerson has lost 25 pounds

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Corey Dickerson #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo during the Rays' photo day on February 25, 2016 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.

Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.