Tuesday, July 25, 2006
21st Century Rob Deer
For baseball fans of a certain age, the name Rob Deer evokes fond memories.
A one-dimensional slugger in the mold of Gorman Thomas or Dave Kingman, Deer was the epitome of the term "all or nothing". The burly Californian hit 230 homers in his Major League career, but also struck out 1409 times over 3881 at-bats (that's one strikeout for every 2.75 at-bats!).
1991 featured Deer in all his glory. As a member of the Detroit Tigers, he hit .179 on the season (80-for-448) while striking out a staggering 175 times. But 25 of his 80 hits left the ballpark, and 41 went for extra bases. As few and far between as they were, Deer made sure that his hits counted for something. No broken bat bloopers or bunt singles for this man.
Rob Deer remained Rob Deer until the bitter end. He last appeared in the Major Leagues in 1996, as a member of the San Diego Padres. There, he hit .180 (9-for-50) with four home runs and three doubles. He also struck out 30 times. "That's just Rob being Rob", said Deer at a press conference to announce his retirement. "Y'all gonna miss me when I'm gone."
How right he was. It's been a decade since Deer's departure, and a gaping void remains in our national pastime. We need another Rob Deer, someone who is capable of offering just two things: humongous home runs and humiliating strikeouts. Someone who knows no such thing as "middle ground" (aka "the terrain of the weak-minded"). Someone who will swing for the fences every goddamn time he comes to the plate.
Ladies and gentleman, that man is in the Minor Leagues. That man is Mike Hessman.
Hessman, a 28-year-old veteran with over 200 career homers in the Minors, is putting on one hell of a show this year as a member of the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.
His numbers so far: 77 games, 259 at-bats, 42 hits, 8 doubles, 19 home runs, 91 strikeouts.
The man is batting .162, but nearly half of his hits have left the ballpark!
-- Over a 48 at-bat span in April, all seven of Hessman's hits were home runs.
-- On the road, 11 of his 22 hits have left the ballpark.
-- He once went 96 at-bats without a single.
His feats are endless, really. Check 'em out:
The Toledo Mud Hens are an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Rob Deer once played on the Detroit Tigers. Here's hoping that Hessman will soon get to follow in Rob's footsteps, and ply his trade at the Major League level. Make it happen, Detroit.
We need you, Mike. Please get here soon. Compromise is for pussies, and we need someone to teach that to the masses. You're our man.