Fun Players Right Now: Nos. 15-6
OK, time for our next round of fun players RIGHT NOW.
I am now thinking about this fun players thing all the time, by the way. For instance, I just opened a pack of 1988 baseball cards and wanted to see how many “fun players” were in there. I actually count seven out of 15 being fun, which is great — and that’s not including Jeff Stone, who I think was sort of fun because he was so fast.
But two fun players stand out in this pack:
Um, yeah. How could you be more fun than Shawon Dunston? Not only does he spell his name “Shawon,” and not only did he refuse to walk* and not only is his daughter Jasmine the director of minor league operations for the White Sox (!), but who could forget how hard he threw every single throw from shortstop? Every one. It didn’t matter if a Molina was running and he was barely out of the box, Dunston would throw an absolute rocket to first.
I love that so much because, honestly, if I had Dunston’s bazooka of an arm, that’s how I would play, too. I’d show off that arm all the time. I’d offer to put on throwing exhibitions.
*I like 1988, when he walked 16 times in 599 plate appearances, but we cannot forget 1999, when, as a veteran for the Mets and Cardinals, he played in 104 games and walked, yes, twice.
And our second fun ballplayer …
You betcha! For a time, they called him five-for-one, because the Phillies traded five players to Cleveland — including the remarkable Julio Franco — to get him. Hayes was 6-foot-5 and blazing fast; he stole as many as 48 bases in a season. He led the league with 46 doubles one year. He hit as many as 26 home runs. He walked 121 times one season. He played all three outfield positions and played them pretty well.
And … he got BOOED like few others in baseball history. Yeah, you know, there was the Philadelphia thing, and there was always the sense that he could have and should have been better — it always seemed like he had superstar potential. But as Ken Brett once said, “The worse curse in life is unlimited potential,” and Von Hayes was not a superstar. He was just a very good big leaguer. He wasn’t one of the 150 or 200 best players in baseball history, but he was one of the 1,000 best.
No, I am not planning on writing the Baseball 1,000, thank you.
Anyway, Von Hayes seemed to take it all in stride. When asked about the booing that constantly surrounded him, he said: “They can do whatever they want. I’ll still be eating steak every night.”
OK, on to the next batch of fun players right now.
No. 15: Adolis García, Rangers
Well, it has been quite the journey for García, who was a star for the Cuban national team, a flop in Japan (he griped about the food options), a flop in the Cardinals’ system after he defected, and finally a four-tool joy in Texas. I say FOUR tools because García has power to spare (58 homers the last two seasons); when he connects he hits the ball about as hard as anybody. He has 30-stolen-base speed. He plays outstanding defense, and he has a plus arm.
All of that makes him a decent reason to tune into a Rangers game now and again.
That fifth tool, however,
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