Wednesday, May 18, 2005

 

May 18th, 1990

Todd Hundley Debuts


Son of longtime Cubs' catcher Randy "Rebel" Hundley, Todd was a catcher like his Dad, but could hit, which his Dad couldn't. However, when Todd went down with arm surgery, the Mets acquired arguably the greatest catcher of all-time, Mike Piazza. With Piazza not moving, and John Olerud hitting .350, the Mets had to find a non-C, non-1B place for their former hitting star. They decided upon left field, and thus began a thirty-four game adventure.

Todd Hundley simply could not play left field. I don't mean that in the way Greg Luzinski couldn’t play left field, but in the way that the kid on your High School baseball team, the one only got promoted to Varsity because he was a senior couldn't play left field. To Hundley's credit, it wasn't that he didn't try, he just couldn't do it. Hundley played thirty-games, and managed a .898 fielding percentage. Fielding percent is a bad stat, but it paints a pretty good picture idea of Hundley here, out of every one hundred balls hit his way, he would have botched eleven of them. For the sake of contrast, the league fielding percentage in left field was .975. More than that, Hundley simply looked awful, even on the plays he made. His routes suggested he was playing left field after being let off the Tilt-a-Whirl. I very clearly remember a play on a fairly routine fly ball, on which Hundley broke in, then out, then spun around 360 degrees and watched the ball land 5 feet behind him. It was painful to watch. All said, the statistic that best expresses Hundley's troubles is a simple one:

Todd Hundley, LF, 1998: 5 Errors, 34 Games
Mets, LF, 2004: 5 Errors, 162 Games

Hundley was traded to Dodgers after the season, and never, surprise surprise, took the field as anything but a catcher again.





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