Former major league third baseman Eddie Yost, who led the AL in walks six times in an 18-year big-league career, died at age 86 on Tuesday.
Long before walks were cool, Yost was the champion of the category, racking up huge totals despite the fact that he wasn’t an overpowering hitter. Yost never batted .300 and topped 15 homers just once in his career, which spanned from 1944-62, but he twice led the AL in on-base percentage and finished in the top six five more times.
Along with leading the AL in walks six times, he finished second to Ted Williams twice. He topped 100 runs five times, leading the AL once. He also led the AL in doubles one year.
Still, for all of his success, Yost made just one All-Star team, and it actually happened in one of his weaker seasons in 1952. He was at his best in 1959, when he hit .278/.435/.436 with 21 homers in his first year with the Tigers. He spent his first 14 seasons with the Senators before finishing up with two years in Detroit and two more in Los Angeles with the Angels.
At the time of his retirement, Yost was fourth on the all-time walk list behind Babe Ruth, Williams and Mel Ott. He currently ranks 11th with 1,614 walks.
After wrapping up his playing career, Yost spent 22 years coaching with the Senators, Mets and Red Sox before retiring in 1984.
The Orioles don’t yet have the worst record in baseball. They’re tied for the most losses with 16, but they have two more wins than the Marlins and one more than the Royals, so let’s say that they have overachieved to this point. Kudos to being a bit plucky in the early going!
But make no mistake: the Orioles are not a good team and I suspect they will soon be the worst in the league. When they are, they will likely get blown out quite often and when they are blown out they will put position players on the mound more than almost any other team. Heck, they’ve done it three times already this year and the season is only three weeks old.
The latest Orioles position player to pitch was catcher Jesús Sucre, who took the mound in last night’s 12-2 loss to the White Sox. And he wasn’t half bad! He retired the side in order and needed only nine pitches to do so:
There once was a time when it was a novelty to see a position player pitching. It happens all the time now, partially because of blowouts, partially because teams have decided it’s better to get embarrassed a bit than to burn a bullpen arm in a game they’ve given up trying to win.
I suspect the Orioles will take the practice to a whole new level in 2019, though. For better or for worse.