Rob Deer was an unlikely player of the week


The week: September 21-27, 1992

My high school baseball coach hated Rob Deer. I bet a lot of high school baseball coaches in 1992 hated Rob Deer. Rob Deer represented exactly what high school baseball coaches in 1992, at least the ones I knew in central Illinois, were trying to contend with.

Because Rob Deer wasn’t known for his home runs, although he hit a lot of them from a really long distance, and Rob Deer wasn’t known for his on-base percentage, even though he hit a higher number average for his entire career, and Rob Deer wasn’t known for his 1987 appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, even though he had been there and nobody’s high school baseball coach had him. do.

No: Rob Deer was known for his hitting. And back then, that was all that mattered to your average high school baseball coach.

By September 1992, Deer had led the Majors in strikeouts three times: in 1987, 1988 and 1991. (He would do it again in 1993.) His 186 strikeouts in 1987 were the third in Major League history. Baseball, behind only Bobby Bonds’ marks of 189 in 1970 and 187 in 1969. The Hart, more than any other player of the era, became synonymous with strikeouts. Not just strikeouts following a hit at bat, but strikeouts as a symptom of baseball somehow losing touch with what it was meant to be played…and most importantly, taught. Even Deer himself, who later became a hitting coach with the Padres when he retired, said he was no one to emulate. “I don’t teach the way I hit,” he said. “”I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t want them hitting like I did.”

When Deer won his only Player of the Week award in September 1992, he won it by hitting like someone who wasn’t Rob Deer. In the week ending Sept. 27, Deer only homered twice, but he hit .351, increasing his average by nine runs in the process. (It must have been weird watching Rob Deer turn into Tony Gwynn.) It was his second season with Detroit, where he teamed with fellow sluggers Cecil Fielder, Mickey Tettleton and Travis Fryman. Deer had the highest slugging percentage of all that season, at .547…highest of his career, as it turns out.

Deer wouldn’t be long in Detroit after this year. After a slower start to the 1993 season, Deer found himself trading bait for the struggling Tigers, and they sent him to Boston at the trade deadline for a Minor Leaguer – or “fringe prospect” , as the Tigers say – to be named later. (Trading for Deer allowed the Red Sox, who wouldn’t end up in the playoffs anyway, to move Andre Dawson to a full-time DH.)

Deer hit .196 with seven homers and a strong defense for the Sox, and he entered free agency this offseason hoping for a raise. He ended up signing with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan instead. He struggled there, hitting eight home runs in 70 games with a .151 average, and he spent the next two years shaking up Triple-A in the Angels and Padres organizations. (He sort of hit .291 for Las Vegas in 1995.) He was called up in 1996 for the Padres, and he hit four more homers in 25 games. His .839 OPS would have been useful, if anyone had been watching OPS at the time. He was out of baseball the following year and destined to be known forever as The Strikeout Guy.

When Deer retired, he was ranked third on the list of one-season retirees. But how much has the game changed since then? He is now tied for 45th. Last year alone, there were four players who had more strikeouts than Deer’s highest season … including American League MVP Shohei Ohtani. Your high school coach thought avoiding strikeouts was the future. He was very wrong.

The other player of the week that week was Bip Roberts, who made his only All-Star team in 1992 and finished eighth in MVP voting for the Cincinnati Reds, who had traded Randy Myers to San Diego for him. previous offseason. (Bip would go on to re-sign with the Padres two years later.) That week, Roberts hit over .500…but no homers.

That week, Magic Johnson, who had retired from the NBA less than a year earlier after announcing he was HIV-positive, announced his intention to return to the NBA. He played a few pre-season games but decided not to retire, citing concern from players who played against him. He would come back for real three years later. Additionally, Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“End of the Road”, Boyz II Men

This song was the #1 song for three full months, a record they themselves would make break up two years later.

Michael Mann, known at the time primarily for his TV show “Miami Vice,” topped the box office with “The Last of the Mohicans,” featuring a surprisingly buff Daniel Day-Lewis.


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