Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Baseball Trivia: Like Russian Nesting Dolls

In 1999, while with the Cleveland baseball franchise, Manny Ramírez set a sort of modern baseball record when he drove in 165 runners. He crossed the 160-RBI plateau as the first to do it since Jimmie Foxx, who went ballistic in 1938 with 175 driven in. Sammy Sosa would become the second hitter to reach 160 rib-eyes in over 60 seasons when he did it in 2001.

Since Manny had 44 long balls that season, he obviously drove himself in 44 times, which happens to be the most of anyone in the Cleveland lineup that season. Crossing home plate – by the power of Manny’s bat and keen pitch recognition technology – 37 times was Roberto Alomar, which puts him second on Manny’s list of most driven in. Alomar, who had 120 RBIs that year, in turn drove across Omar Vizquel 27 times; second on his list. Vizquel, not known for being a run producer, also drove in 66 that year.

That Cleveland squad was an offensive juggernaut, so Vizquel had a fair number of people on when he stepped to the plate. Starting catcher Einar Díaz was the second name on Vizquel’s list, when Little O plated him 11 times in 1999. So, that should be sufficient layers of obfuscation.

Díaz only drove in 32 that season. That should come as no surprise, considering Díaz was not a slugging catcher and he spent 88.8% of his plate appearances in the nine hole that year. What I’m hoping you can decipher is which teammate of Díaz’s did he drive in second most on his list?

He only drove in this big first baseman five times that season. In his first full season, this 6’7” right-handed slugger split time between first base and left field, as he was positionally blocked by the more ensconced Jim Thome and David Justice. Good lord that team was stacked! This guy didn’t have a guaranteed starting job, but he put up 31 home runs and 116 RBIs while slashing .255/.305/.514. Pretty handy weapon to have in a utility spot.

From that season on until his sharp decline at the end of 2006, he hit 262 big flies, good enough for 10th-most during that timespan. That’s more than Albert Pujols had!

Cleveland drafted him in the 24th round of the 1993 June Amateur Draft out of Prairie High in Prairie Brush, Washington. He is the only Prairie Falcon, to date, to make it to the majors and he appears to still hold the school record for RBIs. A man with a wingspan much larger than most falcons, he finished his major league career with 306 homers, an OPS+ of 120, and a cool 18.0 bWAR. He has just one postseason hit in a mere 17 plate appearances, all with Cleveland. His career homers are almost evenly split between the American and National Leagues. He was an All-Star twice during his stay in the Senior Circuit. Who’s bringing sexy back?

Check here for the ANSWER.

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