St. Louis Cardinals

Former Dodgers, Cardinals outfielder Wally Moon dies

10 Comments

Former National League Rookie of the Year Wally Moon, who played for the Cardinals and Dodgers, has passed away at the age of 87.

Moon came up with the Cardinals and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1954 after hitting .304/.371/.435 with 12 homers and 18 stolen bases. He’d man center field at first and then moved to the corner as he played in St. Louis through the 1958 season, making the All-Star team in 1957 and even earning a few down ballot MVP votes in 1956.

Moon would make his fame, however, with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being traded there following the 1958 season. At the time the Dodgers played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which was not configured well for baseball, with the right-field fence standing 440 feet away and the left field fence only 220 feet from home plate. To compensate for the short left-field porch, the Dodgers put up a 42-foot-tall net. As a left-handed hitter, Moon had a problem but he realized that by swinging with a pronounced uppercut and attempting to push the ball the opposite way, even a moderately hard hit ball could clear that net for a homer. Moon didn’t hit a lot of homers, but in 1959 he hit a career-high 19, 14 of which came in Los Angeles. His homers came to be called, appropriate enough, “Moonshots.”

Moon’s primary calling card was his plate discipline. He hit well for contact, finishing with a .289 career average, and took his walks, finishing with a .371 career on-base percentage, leading the National League in the category in 1961 with an outstanding .434 rate. While rarely the best or most famous player on his Dodgers teams, it’s no accident that they won often with his bat in the lineup, winning the World Series in 1959 and 1963 and winning a final title when Moon was a part-time player in 1965.

Moon would retire following the 1965 season, finishing his career with a line of .289/.371/.445, for an OPS+ of 118. He hit 142 homers and knocked in 661 runs in 1,457 career regular-season games across 12 seasons.

Following his playing career Moon would coach for the San Diego Padres and later managed and owned the Dodgers minor league franchise in San Antonio and took other minor league managing jobs, notably in the Yankees system.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal,¬†LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune¬†reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.