With all due respect to “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” by Franklin Pierce Adams…
These is the saddest of possible ledes:
“Dunn to Jirschele to Perez.”
Former Midwest Leaguers, with no other ties,
Dunn and Jirschele and Perez.
Readers forgive me this bad rip-off poem,
But in this post, you’ll get to know ’em:
Dunn and Jirschele and Perez (and others).
I may have drank too much coffee this afternoon. Hopefully it gets better from here.
Of course, the first thing I’m going to write about here is the probable retirement of slugger Adam Dunn, who finally made it to the postseason after 2,001 MLB games spread over 14 seasons, but didn’t make an appearance in the ALDS play-in game his Oakland Athletics lost to the Kansas City Royals.
That much you surely know, because it got a lot of media attention after Tuesday’s game. So let’s move on to what’s more important (at least on this website): Dunn’s Midwest League statistics.
Dunn played two seasons in the Midwest League as a Cincinnati Reds prospect. In 1999, he batted .307 with 11 HR, 44 RBI, 21 SB, 46 walks and 64 strikeouts in 93 games with the Rockford Reds. In 2000, he batted .281 with 16 HR, 79 RBI, 24 SB, 100 walks and 101 strikeouts in 122 games with the Dayton Dragons (the team’s inaugural season).
In my mind, a great comparison to Dunn is Dave Kingman, and their statistics seem to support that idea. Dunn batted .237 with 462 HR, 1,168 RBI, 1,317 walks and 2,379 strikeouts in 2,001 games; Kingman batted .236 with 442 HR, 1,210 RBI, 608 walks and 1,816 strikeouts in 1,941 games. (Incidentally, Kingman received three votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It will be interesting to see if Dunn gets more than that. I think he will, but won’t make it past his first time on the ballot.)
Another comparable player to Dunn is Jose Canseco. Boiling that down to 140 characters, Comcast SportsNet Chicago researcher Chris Kamka noted on Twitter that each player hit 462 home runs, made one pitching appearance, and spent part of his final season with the Chicago White Sox. (By the way, if you use Twitter, Kamka is a must-follow!)
I’ll add that both Dunn and Canseco played for Midwest League teams based in cities that no longer have MWL teams. As I noted earlier, Dunn played for the Rockford Reds; Canseco played for the Madison Muskies (.159 BA, 3 HR, 10 RBI in 34 games with the 1983 team).
Speaking of Rockford, one of its former Midwest League managers is in the American League playoffs. Mike Jirschele, a member of the Kansas City Royals coaching staff, managed the 1993 Rockford Royals to a first-half division title and the second-best overall record in the Midwest League that year. Rockford got knocked out of the playoffs by South Bend, who went on to win the MWL championship.
The 1993 Rockford team included future major-leaguer Johnny Damon, who was named the MWL Prospect of the Year after hitting .290 with 5 HR, 50 RBI and 59 SB in 127 games. He was 19 that summer.
Jirschele didn’t only manage in the Midwest League, he played in it, too. He batted .241 with 7 HR and 54 RBI in 127 games with the 1979 Wausau Timbers. (Another Midwest League team based in a city currently without a MWL team!) He played second base in all but one of those games.
Jirschele was the hitting coach for the 1990-91 Appleton Foxes, who were affiliated with the Royals. He pitched twice for the 1990 team, giving up one run on three hits, two walks, and two wild pitches while striking out three batters in four innings. Those were his last appearances as a player.
One last note: I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the player who drove in the winning run for the Royals in Tuesday’s 12-inning playoff game against the A’s played in the Midwest League. Salvador Perez batted .189 with seven RBI in 36 games with the 2009 Burlington Bees.
Eric Hosmer (.254, 5 HR, 49 RBI in 79 games) and Jarrod Dyson (.343, 5 RBI, 9 SB in 17 games) also played for the 2009 Bees.