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Baseball's Greatest Winner?


BaltimoreTerp

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http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/02/03/baseballs-greatest-winner/

OK, you’ll probably figure this out pretty quickly, but here we go …

I’m thinking of a baseball player who has never played for a losing team. Not even once. Well, that’s not technically true: He played very briefly for a terrible team when he was 21, a team that had been terrible for a very, very long time. Then, the next year, his rookie year, that terrible team became instantly great. And he helped lead his team to the World Series the very next year.

The guy has never, ever played for a loser since. Not ever. He carried his teams to the playoffs 10 times in his 15 full seasons, and four times those teams went to the World Series. His teams, over his rather lengthy career, have a .578 winning percentage, which is rather incredible. That’s about 94 wins per year. That’s better than Bobby Cox’s winning percentage, way better than Sparky Anderson’s* or Joe Torre’s or Tony LaRussa’s. It’s a tick better than Jack Morris’ career winning percentage, and this guy wasn’t a pitcher. This guy played every day.

Any guesses?

But it’s even more than his winning percentages. He helped turned around the fortunes of one dying franchise. He helped end one of the longest droughts in American sports. He turned around a third team instantly after being traded there. This isn’t like the story of Derek Jeter, who wins every year but always for the New York Yankees. No. Wherever this guy goes, no matter the tradition, no matter curses, no matter anything, his teams win. HIs teams win big.

You could argue based on all this, that this player is the greatest winner of his generation. We all know that one player in baseball cannot make the whole difference, one player cannot turn a bad team into a good one. But you can’t argue with the man’s record. He’s a winner. He might even be THE winner.

How about now?

And so, picture that winner in your mind. Imagine how he must play the game. He’s a World Series MVP. He’s a preposterously good clutch hitter — the guy hits 30 points higher with runners in scoring position than he does with no runners on base. He has hit lots and lots of grand slams. He throws out base runners at the plate — he twice led the league in outfield assists. Can you see him? Can you feel his clubhouse presence? Can you sense how many little things he must do to help the team win?

What does baseball greatest winner look like anyway? A little bit of Clemente? A little bit of Rose? A little bit of Eckstein? He is exactly what every baseball team wants, a guy who performs in the big moments, a guy who doesn’t just know how to win but a guy who has won, a guy who always wins, no matter the team, no matter the city, no matter the history, no matter what. The biggest winner around.

What does he look like? Think about it: He must run out every ground ball. He must play defense with passion. He must have a supreme level of concentration — he has to come to play every single day. His teammates must love him. His manager must sing his praises daily. He must not care about his own numbers. He must not ever lose his focus.

Yes. The guy’s a winner.

You already knew that this was...

Click on the link to see, though most of you probably have it figured out by now.

Very interesting when things are turned around that way.

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