My latest Hardball Times article focuses on the little people. I’m not talking metaphorically here:
I thought it might be fun to highlight some players who enjoyed considerable success despite being “vertically challenged.” Since I’m such a fan of creating fake teams, I decided to assemble a squad of short players who were also very good (or good players who were also very short, if you prefer).
There are a few Padres connections. Matt Stairs is our team’s first baseman, while former first-base coach Davey Lopes is our reserve infielder. Also, pretty much by default, Fred Norman is our left-handed pitcher.
Norman spent parts of 1971-1973 in San Diego and went a remarkable 13-30. His record everywhere else was 91-73, but playing for the Padres back then would do that to a guy. Still, he retains a place in our hearts.
I tried coming up with a short (5’9″ and under) team for the Padres, but it wasn’t easy. Here are the best guys I found at each position:
Pos Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ Comment C Humberto Quintero 102 .242 .284 .337 68 He was our only choice 1B Alex Pelaez 8 .250 .250 .250 39 See Quintero; a local product 2B Quilvio Veras 1788 .270 .366 .353 95 Hey, an actual good player 3B Luis Salazar 2383 .267 .298 .375 90 All-time Padres leader in games played at 3B SS Enzo Hernandez 2609 .225 .283 .267 61 The legend LF Eric Young 310 .241 .320 .348 69 It was either him or Tony Gonzalez CF Jarvis Brown 157 .233 .335 .331 78 See Pelaez RF Jim Vatcher 44 .222 .349 .250 71 See Brown UT David Eckstein 893 .268 .325 .341 88 Haters be hatin' UT Jerry Turner 1686 .259 .321 .390 103 Our best hitter played all three OF positions IP W-L ERA ERA+ RHP Tom Phoebus 139 3-12 4.60 72 LHP Fred Norman 413 13-30 3.55 94
There are many ways to make the Padres look bad, but I may have found the worst. What a terrible All-Short team they have.
Anyway, the squad I managed to assemble drawing from a larger pool of players is quite good; it includes Hall of Famers and everything. But don’t take my word for it, read the full article.