Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Cubs Fact: No Fielding Chances at First Base

Fred McGriff's time with the Cubs was rather short, about 1 1/2 seasons. He was brought to the team as the last piece of the puzzle to lead the team to the playoffs in 2001, but that didn't happen. However, he did accomplish something as a Cub that had happened only one other time in Major League history.

Topps Heritage, 2003

Donruss, 2002

Fleer, 2002

I selected these cards that show the Crimedog in the field instead of hitting because McGriff's record involved his glove. Actually, Fred's major league record wasn't something that he did, but rather something that he didn't do. On August 15, 2002, Fred had a grand total of zero putouts or assists as first baseman.

That's right, the first baseman never touched the ball the entire game. In the history of the Major Leagues, that had happened only once before (June 29, 1937), and oddly enough, it also involved a Cubs first baseman. Since I don't have any Rip Collins cards from 1937, I will stick with the McGriff story (although I did find a picture of Collins as a Cubs coach in 1961).

Most of the Cubs putouts were via the strikeout. Mark Prior started and rang up 12 K's in 6 innings. Four relievers added 5 more strikeouts, giving the catchers 17 of the 27 putouts. Nine of the other ten outs were fly balls or pop ups. The only infield putout was on a ninth inning fielders choice at second base. By contrast, the opposing first baseman, Jeff Bagwell, had 11 putouts.

Fred's lack of action on the field didn't affect him at the plate, as he went two for four with a home run, helping lead the Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Astros.

McGriff had a decent season in 2002, hammering 30 home runs and driving in 103 runs. But the Cubs chose to let him go after the season because first baseman of the future, Hee Seop Choi, was ready for the majors (well, he was supposed to be ready). McGriff hooked up with the Dodgers in 2003 and the Devil Rays in 2004 as he attempted to reach 500 career home runs. He ended up falling short, with 493.

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