The Number Nine
Belt, Belt, Belt, Belt, Belt. There is nothing more exciting for Giants fans this Spring Training * than the possibility of Brandon Belt breaking camp and heading straight to San Francisco. Of course, we know how this organization works, so we’re doing our best (no promises) to be patient and prepare to not call for anyone’s head when he doesn’t get brought up until May.
The scouting reports have been glowing, the numbers are shiny, the hype has reached epic proportions, and the comparisons…oh, the comparisons: Will Clark, J.T. Snow…Barry Bonds? The life of a prospect’s reputation just doesn’t get much better than this.
But I’m not here just to parrot back at you everything I’ve already read about the new Chuck Norris. That’s all old news. The new bit of news, that I believe came out yesterday via Twitter, is that Belt will be wearing the number 9.
So, what’s a college student to do with this piece of information? Go onto Baseball Almanac and click through the last 78 years of rosters in search of everyone else who has worn #9 as a Giant, of course. Hey, it beats studying for Japanese midterms or reading Frankenstein. (Seriously, if anyone knows of a way to search for players by number, please tell. It would save a lot of time. I’ll uh…give you virtual brownies or something.)
Anyways, on to the interesting part (finally). What bits of trivia did I find that you can now use to beat Watson on Jeopardy?
- Let’s get the obvious** out of the way first. Pat Burrell was wearing #9 in 2010, and has since switched to #5. Assuming that you don’t spend too much time thinking of his ABs in the World Series, this can qualify as good news.
- Catchers, catchers, catchers. So many catchers! After a few clicks, the first thing I would do after going to a year was scroll down to the catchers tab. This legitimately saved time. I also now know the names of more obscure one -year Giants back-up catchers from 30+ years ago than any 18 years old should know. Clyde Kluttz (that’s a great name, by the way), anyone? In 8 ABs for the Giants in 1946 he hit .375/.375/.375. This is better than anything he did for the Cardinals the rest of the year, so I guess we got a good deal.
- Speaking of catchers…Yorvit Torrealba in 2002. Ugh. At least he’s out of the league now.
- Of course, that ugly piece of information is way overshadowed by what most of you probably already kn0w. And that is…Matt Williams! Let’s just hope Brandon has a better start to his career.
- Its nice to know somethings stay the same. Manny Trillo: All-star, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers…of course, he did all of this a good few years before he came to the Giants and put on #9. In orange and black he was…less than pretty. In 1985, in 451 ABs, he slugged .288. Ack. Maybe Belt will inherit the All-star years instead…
- Wes Westrum (yet another catcher) is a name that popped up for several years running. Wikipedia claims he was a great defensive player. He spent his entire career with the Giants back in the New York days from 1947-1957 and had a couple of All-star years mixed in with a lot of mediocre ones (offensively at least), but if there’s one thing he always could do it was take a walk. Career BA? .217. Career OBP? .356! In 1951 he was getting on base 40% of the time…with a .219 batting average. I would have no problems with Belt inheriting that particular trait via the Baseball Gods.
- Uh…let’s get back to the 2000′s for a bit. Hey, Marquis Grissom! There’s a name I know. Ouch, that last year was ugly, wasn’t it? But 2003 and 2004 were good years. And he won a Willie Mac Award. Let’s call this one a plus.
- Who next? How about Bob Schmidt? He’s like Jason Schmidt except for at the other half of the battery (yup, its another catcher) and not as good. But he was an All-star his rookie year (1958) and lit up Sandy Koufax for a home run and 6 RBIs one game! That’d be great for Belt to imitate in 2011, just don’t uh…look at the rest of his career.
Alright, that Japanese midterm I was talking about? I should really go take a look at lecture slides. There are a good dozen or so more names that scribbled in the margin of my notebook though, so maybe I’ll dig up more obscure stats later to bore you with at various points. Until then, you’ll be spared another wall of Baseball Reference links.
Oh, and that bit about not calling for anyone’s head if Belt doesn’t start the year in San Francisco? Don’t believe what you read. We’re impatient people.
*With the possible exception of this banner.
**Obvious to those of you who can remember uniform numbers at least. Britt and I have had this discussion. I’m terrible. That 2002 team? You know, the last one to make the World Series? I think I remember 2 numbers from it. Maybe 3. Maybe.