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.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.