More fun stuff continues to spin out of that Greatest Living Player post from the other day. This one comes from Bill Parker over at ESPN’s Sweet Spot, running down a list of underappreciated non-Hall of Famers. Guys like Dave Stieb, Reggie Smith, Jimmy Wynn and … Jim Fregosi.
As Bill notes, Fregosi definitely should have made the conversation for Greatest Living Angel.* He was beyond solid at shortstop for the Angels — and was easily one of the best in baseball — during the 1960s.
We forget it now, but there was a time when you didn’t need to hit a lick to play short in the majors. In 1968 the Tigers won the AL Pennant with Ray Oyler as their Opening Day shortstop. He got 247 plate appearances in which he hit .135 and slugged .186. He was eventually replaced, but in those days it took something that bad to have a manager make such a move.
Fregosi, in contrast, posted nine straight years as an above-average hitter — for all players, not just for shortstops — in baseball’s second dead ball era. In 1964 he slapped up a .277/.369/.463 line with 18 homers. Adjusted for era, that’s kind of like the seasons Robbie Cano and Adrian Beltre had last year.
Good stuff from Bill, talking about some of my favorite players in baseball history.
*I think someone mentioned him in the original comment thread too.