Monday, February 21, 2005

 

February 21st, 1965

Oscar Azocar Born

It may hard for people who’ve only started following baseball since the mid 90s to believe, but as recently as 1992 the Yankees lost more than eighty-five games and finished fourth in their division. If you’re curious why, players like Oscar Azocar are part of the reason. Signed in 1983 as a pitcher, Azocar pitched in the minors until 1986 when he was shifted to the outfield. Azocar hit .317 at various minor league levels from 1987 until his call-up to the Yankees in 1990. He was hailed—based largely on the batting average one imagines—as a viable prospect. Oscar’s problem was that his .317 was as empty as .317 could be. He walked every forty minor league at-bats and swung at everything. He hit home runs even more rarely, once every seventy-two minor league at-bats and never in four minor league seasons at three different levels even topped a .425 slugging percentage. There is a story (almost certainly apocryphal as it's been told about a number of players) that Azocar once swung at a pitch-out, and got a hit. Of course, being Oscar, it was probably a single. For those who wonder what the Yankees looked like when they were lousy, think of a top prospect who is a converted pitcher with no plate discipline and no power. It was not a pretty sight.




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