The Baseball RIP Roster for 2022
We lost many former major league baseball players in 2022. Here is a review and roster of the most prominent ones.
Every year the baseball world loses many former major league players. 2022 was no different, as two Hall of Famers (Gaylord Perry and Bruce Sutter) and a host of other well-known players passed away. I did searches for batters and pitchers at Stathead to review the full lists and compile the following roster of the most well known (age of death in parentheses):
I recently did a lengthy profile of the top pitcher here, Gaylord Perry: Best, Worst, Outliers, and Oddities. As noted, Bruce Sutter is of course the other Hall of Famer in this group, as he was one of a handful of relievers who redefined the role in the 1970s and 80s.
Amongst pitchers, Curt Simmons was clearly the next most prominent who passed in 2022. He had a 20-year career, mostly for the Phillies, but also with the Cardinals, and then briefly the Cubs and Angels at the end of his career (1947-1967). A three-time All-Star, he had seven seasons with 14+ wins, and ended up with a 3.54 ERA and 111 ERA+.
Of the other pitchers listed above, some highlights include:
Joe Horlen posted an impressive 1.88 ERA for the White Sox in 1964, and then was an All-Star in 1967, posting a 19-7 record while leading the AL with 2.06 ERA, 146 ERA+, 6 shutouts, and 0.953 WHIP—which earned him second place in the AL Cy Young vote and fourth place in the MVP vote.
Tom Browning went 20-9 as a rookie in 1985, and was runner-up in the NL ROY award vote. Playing almost his entire career with the Reds, he threw a perfect game on September 16, 1988.
Dick Ellsworth pitched over half his career for the Cubs, with his best season clearly being 1963 when he went 22-10 with a 2.11 ERA, 19 CG, and league-leading 167 ERA+.
Ralph Terry, in his second stint with the Yankees, went 16-3 for the powerful 1961 Yankees, and then was an All-Star the following year, pacing the AL in wins with a 23-12 record.
Bob Locker posted 95 saves over 10 years, with an impressive 2.75 career ERA and 122 ERA+.
Looking over the position players on this roster, two things jumped out at me. First, while I’ve only listed players at one position, many were quite versatile over their careers. Hector Lopez perhaps most of all, so I listed him on the side under Utility. But John Ellis split his time evenly between C and 1B, and John Wockenfuss was primarily a catcher, but also got into plenty of games at 1B, RF, LF, and DH. David Green played a mix of 1B, RF, and CF. Gerald Williams played all three OF positions, and so did Gene Clines (in addition to being a frequent pinch hitter). Lee Thomas played almost as many games in RF as 1B, and Jeremy Giambi actually got into more games as a DH than anywhere else, followed by RF, LF, and 1B.
The second thing I noticed about the roster above was an abundance of speedsters, with only a few who provided much power. Here are some highlights:
Maury Wills of the Dodgers led the NL in SB in his first six full seasons, including setting a new record with 104 SB in 1962, and then swiping 94 in 1965. His 1962 campaign was one of five in which he was an All-Star and earned him NL MVP honors as he scored 130 runs, batted .299, was only caught stealing 13 times, and took home his second consecutive Gold Glove Award at SS.
Another star for the Dodgers in the 1960s, Tommy Davis won consecutive batting titles in his two all-star seasons, with 1962 being by far the most impressive of his 18-year career (which included time with 10 different clubs). He came in third in the NL MVP vote in that year after hitting 27 HR with 18 SB and leading the league with a .346 average, 230 hits, and 153 RBI.
Julio Cruz swiped 40+ bases in six consecutive seasons and ended his career with 343 SB, but only a .237/.321/.299 slash line.
Chuck Carr was another light-hitting speedster, maxing out at a league-leading 58 SB for the Marlins in 1993.
John Stearns was a four-time All-Star, and a very rare breed in the 1970s as a catcher who could steal some bases, topping out at 25 in 1978.
Pete Ward hit 20+ HR in both 1963 and 1964, playing mostly at 3B but some 1B and OF over his nine year career.
Jeremy Giambi, the younger brother of slugger Jason Giambi, was adept at drawing walks leading to a career .377 OBP, and had a little pop as in 2002 when he hit 20 HR in only 303 AB.
Dick Schofield Sr. played parts of 19 seasons in the majors, including 8 for the Pirates and 8 across three stints for the Cardinals. A good-fielding, light-hitting (.227 BA) shortstop, he only played in 100+ games in three seasons.
Lee Thomas hit 20+ HR three times, including 24 HR in his 1961 rookie season, and then 26 HR with 104 RBI as an All-Star the following year.
And lastly, I listed two guys here as pinch hitters, Dwight Smith and Larry Biitner, as they interestingly got into more games in that role than at any other position.
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