It's The Common Man's birthday, and if you haven't already bought him a present, maybe you'll buy a book from him. Here are the 10 best players with whom TCM shares the anniversary of his triumphant birth:
Heinie Manush - Manush debuted in 1923 ad led the AL in HBP his first two years with 17 and 16, then he never got hit more than 6 times in a season again. It begs the question of whether he changed his stance or approach. He led the league in hitting (.378) in 1926 and settled into a long and productive career, though he's by no means deserving of the Hall of Fame, which he was inducted into in 1964.
Tony Oliva - One of the five best players ever out of Cuba, and probably the most talented. Led the AL in batting each of his first two seasons, and hits in each of his first three. Actually led the AL in hits five times, doubles four times, runs once, slugging percentage once, and batting average three times. His catastrophic knee injury in 1972 ended his chances of the Hall of Fame. Man, if only knee surgery was better back then.
Stephen Strasburg - Current pitching deity.
Mike Witt - Witt was a good pitcher for a lot of the early 1980s (and even pitched a perfect game on the last day of the 1984 season), but a sensation in 1986, when he put up a 2.84 ERA in 269 innings. He finished with more than 2000 innings and a 3.83 ERA that was 5% better than league average once you adjust for ballpark.
Charles Johnson - Wasn't his 2000 great? .304/.379/.582. Dude lived off of that for the next four seasons.
Bengie Molina - Solid defensive catcher, retired after 2010. Still slowly trying to make his way home.
Sam Weaver - You really can't trust 19th centruy stats; they're not good for much of anything. Weaver lost 31 games for the Milwakee Grays in 1878. He had a 1.95 ERA in 383 innings. But he allowed 214 runs, only 83 of which were earned. He did have a hell of a mustache.
Mickey Stanley - It's hard to remember, given his .248/.298/.377 batting line, that Mickey Stanley was not bad at baseball. He played during a terrible offensive period, and was often above average. Plus he won four gold gloves, and was shifted to SS during the 1968 World Series because Ray Oyler was so terrible.
Heinie Mueller - He lasted four years and was actually pretty ok for a utility guy, but his career was completely sidetracked by World War II, and by the time he got back, he never got back out fo the minors.
Don Black - He won 10 games for Cleveland in 1947, and won the World Series with them in 1948 despite not actually being any good at all. That's kind of an accomplishment.
Red Kleinow - Former catcher for the old Highlanders who really was not any good, adn led the AL in passed balls in 1906.
Alexi Casilla - For all his considerable faults and maddening inconsistency, at least he doesn't get thrown out on the bases.
Finally, on a day with so much tragedy, TCM wants to take a moment to reflect on how lucky he is privileged enough to care so much about something as trivial as baseball, and that people seem to like that he does.