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DrungoHazewood

In praise of Willis Otanez

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This may not fit in Orioles talk, so the mods may want to move it, but I don't know where it really fits.

Anyway, anyone remember Willis Otanez? He was an Oriole briefly in 1998 and 1999. Third baseman mostly. I recall him mostly as a Baysox player in the mid-90s, when I had a 15-game plan and he had a 1996 season where he hit 24 homers. In one of my less inspired moments my friends and I took to calling him "whatyoutalkingabout" Willis Otanez.

But the inspiration for this thread was me stumbling across his minor league page on bb-ref. It's astonishing. Just the batting part goes across a page and a half.

He's still active, at 39, playing for Tabasco in the Mexican League. And he's putting up an .850 OPS (which really ain't much for the high-scoring Mexican League).

By my count, he's played for 25 (!) different professional baseball teams. He's had 15 different seasons where he's played for two or more teams.

Otanez has 2518 career minor league hits, plus another 50 in the majors. He has 364 career professional homers, 480 doubles. Over 1500 minor league RBI, over 1200 runs.

In 2005, split between the Bridgeport Bluefish and Veracruz in the Mexican League he hit .369/.436/.612 with 36 homers and 150 RBI.

He has a fairly reasonable chance to get to 3000 professional hits and 400 homers. I hope he gets there.

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I collect O's media guides going back to when I was 9 in 1996 so I remember Otanez. Crazy he's still playing considering that two guys from that Orioles roster are now HoFers- Ripken and Alomar. Gotta admire a guy who plays for love of the game like that and all those organizations and teams would make for an interesting book.

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I read the thread title and wondered what this could be about, since I indeed remembered him, and that he wasn't around long. I haven't been to enough Blue Crabs games to remember whether I've seen him play in an Atlantic League game. That's just nuts; good on him for still getting out there. Good stuff.

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I was at an autograph signing for him (not free mind you) and when I got out to the car and turned on the radio, I hear that he has retired or quit baseball. That was $20 worth of signed stuff that was then worthless..Sigh...

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I was at an autograph signing for him (not free mind you) and when I got out to the car and turned on the radio, I hear that he has retired or quit baseball. That was $20 worth of signed stuff that was then worthless..Sigh...

You paid $20 for Willis Otanez autographed stuff? Why? I mean, he's cool and all, worth at least a thread on OH. But... why?

And whatta you mean he retired or quit? He's still playing!

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Hey definitely left the O's to be with his family or something. Any it was $5 an autograph and I got a few things signed. He was a PROSPECT at the time so yeah I paid for his autograph in hopes he would be worth something some day. I'm not an idiot!

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Never remember hearing of this guy until today. Yeah, looks like this guy could rake it. Surprised that he was never given more of an opportunity in the bigs, especially given the vast variety of organizations he played for.

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One time, as a kid, at a Red Wings game, I brought a baseball and got autographs from some players before the game. The next time I went, I did they same thing, but didn't know who Willis Otanez was. I asked him to sign my ball and he told me that he already did. Poor Willis.

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Never remember hearing of this guy until today. Yeah, looks like this guy could rake it. Surprised that he was never given more of an opportunity in the bigs, especially given the vast variety of organizations he played for.

I doubt he was ever a very good major leaguer. He topped out in his mid-20s as a .800-.850 OPS guy in affiliated AAA leagues. So, maybe with the right breaks he could have been a decent 3B/1B/DH or even four-corners utility guy who got 200 or 300 PAs a year, or a regular for a few years on a team like the Orioles. There have certainly been players with long MLB careers who weren't much different than Otanez. He coulda been Fernando Tatis, or Matt Diaz, or Ty Wigginton.

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Hey definitely left the O's to be with his family or something. Any it was $5 an autograph and I got a few things signed. He was a PROSPECT at the time so yeah I paid for his autograph in hopes he would be worth something some day. I'm not an idiot!

Huh, I guess that makes more sense. I thought you actually paid $20 to get him to autograph a baseball or something. He must have changed his mind in a big way, since he's played baseball for ~15 years and 20 teams since then.

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Along these same lines, besides Ray Lewis, there is another player from the Ravens first draft that is still active. James Roe was the Ravens 6th round pick and caught 15 NFL passes.

He went to the Arena Football League and has had quite a career. Roe retired in 2008, came back last year and has 23 TDs this year.

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I doubt he was ever a very good major leaguer. He topped out in his mid-20s as a .800-.850 OPS guy in affiliated AAA leagues. So, maybe with the right breaks he could have been a decent 3B/1B/DH or even four-corners utility guy who got 200 or 300 PAs a year, or a regular for a few years on a team like the Orioles. There have certainly been players with long MLB careers who weren't much different than Otanez. He coulda been Fernando Tatis, or Matt Diaz, or Ty Wigginton.

Tony Batista? "whatyoutalkingabout" Willis Otanez! Thanks for sharing and bringing to mind the fan-rave du jour, Lew Ford....

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I'm still keeping track of Otanez' career. It looks like he's not currently on an active roster, but a little Googling revealed a rumor that he was going to maybe sign with the Saltillo Sarape Makers in the Mexican League. By my best figurin' he's 316 hits shy of 3000 as a professional, counting MLB, affiliated minor league ball, indy leagues, and the Mexican League. He's turning 40 in a few weeks, but was still a pretty effective player in Mexico and the Atlantic League last year (.277 with an .811 OPS and 21 homers).

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