Friday, May 15, 2009

1989 Topps Major League Debut #89: John Olerud

John Olerud

PHOTO: There are two things I hate and one thing I love about this photo. The two things I hate are 1) the overexposure that drowns out the logo on Olerud's helmet and 2) the fact that the photo makes Olerud look about 12 years old when he was in fact about 21. The thing I love is that he's wearing his batting helmet. As most of you probably know, Olerud wore his batting helmet at all times, including while playing defense, as a precautionary measure after an earlier aneurysm he suffered.

Oddly enough, I once briefly met Olerud's dad, also named John.

STAT: Of the 48 players to finish with 500 career doubles, Olerud did it in the 4th-fewest at-bats. Of course. most of those guys ended up with a lot more than 500 doubles, so it's not exactly a fair comparison. I note that Goose Goslin is the only other guy in addition to Olerud to finish with exactly 500 doubles. Olerud did have by far the fewest stolen bases of those 48 guys, as well as the fewest triples. Fantastic hitter? Yes. Fast? Not so much.

ANAGRAM: John Olerud, Blue Jays = Hoard lonely jujubes

CAREER: 8/10

Olerud had a great career. A classic line-driver hitter, Olerud hit right around .290 or .300 almost every season except for two smash years: 1993 when he won the batting title hitting .363 with the Blue Jays and 1998 when he hit .354 with the Mets. He was an excellent defensive player at first base and played in 14 post-season series (including 2 World Series wins), amassing 9 HR and 34 RBI in 237 AB, excellent for the playoffs.

The other thing about Olerud is that I've never heard a single bad word said about him. By all accounts, he was a great teammate and very professional. He might get a HOF vote or two but I don't expect him to stay on the ballot past his first year of eligiblity.


  1. I just noticed something interesting about Olerud. He never played in the minor leagues UNTIL his 17th and final season, when the Red Sox signed him in May and sent him down to finish rehabbing after off-season surgery.

    His full major and minor-league stats are here.

  2. To my knowledge, Olie is also the best player to share my birthday. Of course, Carl Crawford could give him a run for his money before all is said and done!

  3. Not bad, Kevin. The full list is here You've also got Mark Mulder and Bernie Carbo.

    My money is on Crawford. I love that guy.

  4. Keith Moreland looks like the best hitter to share my birthday, May 2.

    Larry Cheney, born May 2, 1886, was the best pitcher. He won 116 games, but lost 100.