Wednesday, November 22, 2006

November 22nd, 1950

Greg Luzinski Born

To my infinite regret, I never got to see "The Bull" play--I was six months and twenty-four days old when he retired--but he was my kind of player. Or, more accurately, the kind of player I enjoy on a theoretical level but would hate to have on my team. Luzinski was basically a 1990s kind of a player, a huge--6"1', 225--slugger who basically lacked any defensive skills. Despite this, the Phillies thought it was a good idea to continue to stick their slugger out in left field. We'll get to more on that in a minute.

But first, it is only fair to pay tribute to what Luzinski could do: hit. And boy, could he do that, especially for power. Luzinski finished in the top ten for home runs seven times, doubles four times, slugging percentage four times and OPS+ five times. His home runs were also noted for their distance. Although Luzinski had trouble controlling his weight, he was almost always able to hit, slugging over five hundred as a DH for the White Sox in 1983 at age thirty-three.

But it should come as no surprise that "The Bull" had become a DH by the end of his career, given that he was always basically a DH, he was just one who had the misfortune of playing left field. One fan I know described Luzinski simply as "dreadful" while Bill James notes that he "played with his back turned to center field, sort of officially notifying [Garry] Maddox that he considered anything hit to his left Maddox' s responsibility." James also goes into some detail explaining Luzinski's troubles with the wall, the sun, his throwing arm--it was both non-existent and hugely inaccurate--finally summing it up by explaining that "it was like having Herman Munster playing left field."

These days, Luzinski is the "host" at Bull's BBQ in Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia. For Luzinski, this allows him what must be his ideal: a clear view of an outfield and him not in it.

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