Utility player (baseball)

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Brock Holt has played for several teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a utility player Brock Holt (50389891563) (cropped).jpg
Brock Holt has played for several teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a utility player

In baseball, a utility player is a player who typically does not have the offensive abilities to justify a regular starting role on the team but is capable of playing more than one defensive position. These players are able to give the various starters a rest, or replace a starter due to injury, or play late in a game to provide improved defense when their team is winning.

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Description

Utility infielders typically play both second base and shortstop, sometimes also third base, and more rarely first base. A "fourth outfielder" is likewise an outfielder who can play all three outfield positions but does not have the hitting skills to be a starting player. Some utility players have the defensive ability to play in both the infield and outfield—recent players in Major League Baseball (MLB) fitting this description include Marwin González, Brock Holt, Cory Spangenberg, and Ben Zobrist.

Playing time for fourth outfielders has been called "erratic and unpredictable". [1] Often, fourth outfielders are outfield prospects who have not settled on one outfield position when arriving in the major leagues, [2] veteran players seeking additional playing time to extend their careers, [3] [4] or part-time position players who double as designated hitters. [1]

Notable utility players

Cesar Tovar played every position during his MLB career. Cesar Tovar - Texas Rangers - 1974.jpg
César Tovar played every position during his MLB career.

Within MLB, César Tovar, [5] Cookie Rojas, [6] Bert Campaneris, [7] Shane Halter, [8] Don Kelly, Jose Oquendo [9] Scott Sheldon, [10] and Andrew Romine all played every position (including pitcher) during their respective careers, with Tovar, Campaneris, Halter, Sheldon, and Romine all doing it in one game.

Luis Sojo is considered to be the classic modern utility player in baseball, as he was a natural shortstop, but could also play third base, second base, first base, and even left field. It was said[ according to whom? ] that in emergency situations, he could even play a bit of catcher.

In 1991, the Detroit Tigers' Tony Phillips was the first player to start 10 games at five different positions in the same season. [11]

In 2005, Chone Figgins started 48 games at third, 45 in center field and 36 at second, and finished 17th in American League Most Valuable Player balloting. [12]

Second baseman Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs has played first base, second base, third base, shortstop and outfield; José Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays has played first base, second base, third base, and outfield; and Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates has played second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, and pitcher. All three have been named All Stars while playing multiple positions in their All-Star seasons. [13] Zobrist and Bautista both finished in the top 10 in MVP voting while starting at least 40 games at two different defensive positions.

In 2015, Brock Holt of the Boston Red Sox was the first player ever to be selected to the All Star Game after starting at seven or more positions before the All-Star break. [14]

Willians Astudillo of the Minnesota Twins has played every position except for shortstop in his brief major league career, despite having less than a half-season of cumulative experience.

See also

Related Research Articles

Baseball positions

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. Within the game there are positions in which each participating player can play in.

César Tovar Venezuelan baseball player

César Leonardo Tovar, nicknamed "Pepito" and "Mr. Versatility", was a Venezuelan professional baseball player, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Minnesota Twins (1965–1972), Philadelphia Phillies (1973), Texas Rangers (1974–1975), Oakland Athletics (1975–1976), and New York Yankees (1976). Tovar was an extremely versatile player capable of playing various defensive positions on the field. In 1968, he became only the second player in MLB history to play all nine field positions during a single game, a feat first accomplished by Bert Campaneris, in 1965. Tovar also had a prolific career in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (VPBL), where he played 26 seasons – second only to the 30 seasons played by Vic Davalillo.

Bert Campaneris Cuban baseball player

Dagoberto Campaneris Blanco, nicknamed "Bert" or "Campy", is a Cuban American former professional baseball shortstop, who played Major League Baseball (MLB) for four American League (AL) teams, primarily the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics. One of the mainstays of the Athletics' championship teams of 1972 to 1974, he holds the A's franchise records for career games played (1795), hits (1882), and at bats (7180). Campaneris led the AL in stolen bases six times between 1965 and 1972 and retired with the seventh-most steals in MLB history (649). Defensively, he led the league in putouts three times; his career totals at shortstop place him among the all-time MLB leaders in games played and double plays, at that position. Campaneris is the cousin of former MLB player Jose Cardenal.

Scott Patrick Sheldon is an American former professional baseball third baseman/shortstop and right-handed batter who played for the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers of the Major League Baseball (MLB). He also played for the Orix BlueWave of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Shane David Halter is a former Major League Baseball utility player.

Maicer Izturis Venezuelan baseball player

Maicer Eduardo Izturis is a Venezuelan former professional baseball infielder. During his career he played for the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). Izturis is the half brother of shortstop César Izturis and minor league shortstop Julio Izturis.

Chone Figgins American baseball player

Desmond DeChone Figgins is an American former professional baseball third baseman and outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Figgins was a utility player, playing all positions except catcher, pitcher, and first base.

Mickey Stanley American baseball player

Mitchell Jack "Mickey" Stanley is an American former professional baseball player.

Leo Cárdenas Cuban baseball player

Leonardo Lazaro Cárdenas Alfonso is a Cuban former professional baseball shortstop, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1960 to 1975 for the Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, California Angels, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers. Nicknamed "Mr. Automatic" and "Chico", he was a five-time all-star and one of the best-fielding shortstops of his era.

José Oquendo Puerto Rican baseball player and coach

José Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras, nicknamed The Secret Weapon, is a Puerto Rican former infielder and current coach in Major League Baseball (MLB). He currently serves as Minor League Infield Coordinator of the St. Louis Cardinals, an organization with whom he has been affiliated since 1985. He managed the Puerto Rico national team in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics. During his playing career, Oquendo proved highly versatile defensively: he played primarily second base and shortstop, but also frequently in the outfield, and made at least one appearance at every position during his MLB playing career. Oquendo has the second-highest career fielding percentage for second basemen at .9919 (99.19%), behind only Plácido Polanco's career mark of .9927 (99.27%).

Randy Lee Velarde is an American former baseball infielder and utility player who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played the majority of his career for the New York Yankees, and also played for the California/Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers from 1987 to 2002. Although he primarily played as a utility infielder, Velarde was utilized in the outfield as well.

Ben Zobrist American baseball player

Benjamin Thomas Zobrist, nicknamed Zorilla, is an American former professional baseball second baseman and outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays/Rays, Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, and Chicago Cubs. Zobrist played in three World Series, winning the last two becoming a two-time World Series champion in consecutive seasons of 2015 with the Royals and 2016 with the Cubs.

Alan Bannister American baseball player

Alan Bannister is a retired professional baseball player who played in the major leagues for the Philadelphia Phillies (1974–75), Chicago White Sox (1976–80), Cleveland Indians (1980–83), Houston Astros (1984) and Texas Rangers (1984–85). Originally a shortstop, he was a utility player during his major league career.

The 1968 Minnesota Twins season was a season in American baseball. The team finished 79–83, seventh in the American League.

The Colorado Rockies' 1997 season was the fifth for the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise located in Denver, Colorado, their fifth in the National League (NL), and third at Coors Field. The team competed in the National League West, finishing in third place with a record of 83-79. Right fielder Larry Walker won the NL Most Valuable Player Award (MVP), becoming the first Rockies player and Canadian-born player to do so in MLB.

2010 Seattle Mariners season Major League Baseball season

The 2010 Seattle Mariners season was the 34th season in franchise history. The Mariners finished the season with 61 wins and 101 losses.

William Tolan Gray, also spelled Bill Grey, was an American third baseman and utility player in Major League Baseball between 1890 and 1898. He played two seasons each with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds, and was the starter at third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates during his final season in the major leagues. He was officially listed as standing 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) and weighing 175 pounds (79 kg).

Andrew Romine American baseball player

Andrew James Romine is an American professional baseball utility player for the Chicago Cubs organization. He previously played for the Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners. He is the brother of MLB catcher Austin Romine and son of former MLB outfielder Kevin Romine. On September 30, 2017, Romine became the fifth player in major league history to play all nine defensive positions in a single game.

Brad Miller (baseball) American baseball player

Bradley Austin Miller is an American professional baseball infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals.

References

  1. 1 2 Doyle, Al (October 1997). "Fourth Outfielder, Valuable Insurance for Contenders". Baseball Digest. Lakeside. 56 (10): 60–63. ISSN   0005-609X.
  2. D'Angelo, Tom (March 25, 2010). "Marlins outfield injuries mouting: Cody Ross, Brett Carroll out". The Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  3. "Mariners' outfielder doing it his way". Lynnwood Enterprise. March 25, 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  4. McTaggar t, Brian (March 23, 2010). "Sullivan in contention for last outfield spot". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  5. "Cesar Tovar Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  6. "Cookie Rojas Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  7. "Bert Campaneris Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  8. "Shane Halter Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  9. "Jose Oquendo Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  10. "Scott Sheldon Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  11. Kent, Milton (1994-04-29). "Stretching One's Earning Power". The Baltimore Sun .
  12. "Chone Figgins Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  13. "José Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays - Career Statistics - MLB". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 2013-12-16.
  14. BLUM, RONALD (July 14, 2015). "Holt 1st All-Star to start at 7 positions before break". The Washington Times. Associated Press.