When I was younger I cheered for the Cincinnati Reds and at that time if there ever was a team that I couldn’t stand playing against them it was the Atlanta Braves. Of course on the Braves there were a few pitchers that really pushed me over the edge, John Smoltz (1988-2009) and Tom Glavine. (1987-2008) Now that I look back I am happy I had a chance to watch these great pitchers pitch but they sure didn’t win any awards from me back then. Another great pitcher that I loved to watch was their teammate, Greg Maddux. (1986-2008) Maddux is the topic today as we take a look at his career but mostly at which hitters hit well against him. To be more specific, one hitter who hit very well against him, Mickey Morandini. (1990 – 2000)
Mickey Morandini played 9 years with Philadelphia Phillies who drafted him in the 5th round of the 1988 amateur draft. He also played 2 years with the Cubs and 35 games with the Blue Jays. He debuted on September 1, 1990 for the Phillies in a game versus San Diego Padres where he pinch hit in the bottom of the 7th inning for Sil Campusano (1988-1991) (CF) batting first and playing second base going one for two with one run. His first at bat he saw six pitches from Padres pitcher Eric Show. (1981-1991) (ball, ball, foul, foul, ball and he hit a fly ball to Left field getting him out.) Then in the bottom of the 10th he saw one pitch by Greg Harris (1988-1995) which he hit a single thru second base and first into right field. Rod Booker then pinch hit and bunted to get him over to second base. Von Hayes (1981-1992) got an intentional walk, Dale Murphy (1976-1993) struck out swinging and John Kruk (1986-1995) came up and hit a single into center field scoring Morandini to win the game for the Phillies 3 – 2.
Before writing this I never knew much about Mickey Morandini and to tell you the truth I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the fact that he hit very well versus Greg Maddux in his career. In 100 plate appearances he had 130 at bats and hit 32 times with 3 doubles, 4 triples, 1 home run, 8 runs batted in, 4 walks and Maddux struck him out 18 times. Giving him a .344 batting average, .371 on base percentage, .495 slugging and a .866 on base slugging percentage which was good enough to put him in the top five list of best hitters versus Greg Maddux in his career. When I first looked at the list I saw familar names that I knew would be at the top, like Tony Gwynn (1982-2001) with 39 hits, Craig Biggio (1988-2007) with 38, Luis Gonzalez (1990-2008) with 36 and of course Barry Bonds (1986-2007) with 34. I really did not expect to see Micky Morandini and I just had to find out more about him.
It all started in 1990 where Morandini had 3 hits with 7 at bats against Maddux who only struck him out once. In 1991 he went 3 for 11 versus Maddux with one triple and one walk. 1992 Morandini went 7 for 12 with one triple, one run batted in, one walk and got struck out by Maddux three times. In 1993 he only got one hit out of twelve at bats, getting one double and one walk with Maddux striking him out four times. In 1994 Morandini only had 2 at bats versus Maddux where he did not get a hit, which was also the case in 1995 where he had ten at bats and didn’t get a hit, striking out three times. In 1996 he started hitting against Maddux again going 5 for 14 with two triples and striking out twice. 1997 he went 3 for 6 getting his only homerun off of Maddux and two runs batted in with no strike outs. In 1998 he went 2 for 7 with one double and got two runs batted in with Maddux striking him out three times. His best season against Maddux was in 1999 where he went 5 for 8 with one double and getting one run batted in with no strike outs against him. Morandini went 3 for 7 with one walk, two runs batted in and got struck out two times by Maddux in their last year against each other in 2000.
The first time these two men met was on Wednesday, September 12, 1990, at Wrigley Field. Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs. Morandini went one for two against Maddux. He was hitting 8th for the Phillies in the batting order that day. In his first at bat versus Maddux (top of the 2nd) he saw two pitches, the first a ball then the other he groundout to the third baseman. His second at bat (top of the 6th) he saw four pitches from Maddux, a ball, one he fouled off, another ball and a line drive deep to center field between shortstop and second base for a single. Darren Daulton (1983-1997) would later come up that inning and hit a single into center field to score Morandini. The Cubs went on to win that game 9 – 3 with Maddux getting the win which gave him a 13-13 record at that time.
Mickey Morandini had two great games against Greg Maddux, the first was on Sunday, May 12, 1996, at Veterans Stadium where he went 3 for 3 with one single and two triples, scoring all three times and getting a stolen base which was actually him stealing home. Phillies went on to win that game 6 – 0 against the Braves giving Maddux the loss which gave him a 4 – 3 record. His second big game against Maddux was on Saturday, May 15, 1999, at Wrigley Field. Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs. Morandini was batting 8th in the order for the Cubs that night and went 4 for 4 against Maddux. He got a double and three singles scoring one run and getting one run batted in. The Cubs went on to win that game 5 – 1 with Greg Maddux getting the loss giving him a 4 – 3 record that season.
Mickey Morandini finished his career with a .268 batting average, a .338 on base percentage and with a .359 for slugging over the span of 11 seasons. He was an All-Star in 1995 and won the National League MVP in 1998. He was also a very good second baseman getting 1st for fielding % in 1998 with a .993 and of course getting second in 92, 93, 97 and in 99. His biggest salary was $2,000,000 a season for the Cubs which was for two years. He ended up getting roughly $10,855,000 for his whole career which to me is not a lot of money considering the pay checks those other hitters got that are in the top five best hitters versus Greg Maddux.
As you probably have heard, Houston Astros have been sold and will be moving to the American League. — Source — The Astros have a rich history in the National League and I thought I would write about that instead of details on the sale that just got approved. I for one wish them all the best cause they will be missed. I remember many great games they had against the Reds and many times I wished they would move out of the league so then my guys could win. Now that it is happening I am pulled in a different direction. The Reds were actually beating them now and of course now they move. In all seriousness I wish they would have taken back the damn Brewers but that won’t happen now.
Since 1965 they have been called the Houston Astros but before that they were known as Houston Colt .45’s (1962 – 1964) a name that when I first heard it almost made me stop cheering for the Reds to cheer for them. Of course at the time I heard what their name used to be, Nolan Ryan (1980 – 1988) was pitching there and I loved watching him pitch. They made it to the playoffs nine times (80, 81, 86, 97, 98, 99, 01, 04 and 05) and won one pennant in 2005 where they got swept in the World Series by the Chicago White Sox.
When I think about the Astros I remember watching Craig Biggio (1988 – 2007) and Jeff Bagwell (1991 – 2005) and wishing the Reds would sign them. Of course I did not like them when they played against the Reds but they were great players. Biggio with over 3000 career hits with the team and Bagwell with over 2300 coming in second. It makes me wonder if anyone will ever pass those numbers when they move. Moises Alou (1998 – 2001) holds the record for best career batting average with .331 and of course Jeff Bagwell has it summed up for the season record with a .368 in 1994. Jeff Bagwell got 449 homeruns for Houston with 47 being the teams season high which he got in 2000. Cesar Cedeno (1970 – 1981) has the career record for stolen bases with 487 while Gerald Young (1987 – 1992) beat Eric Yelding (1989 – 1992) by one to get the single season record with 65 in 1988.
I wonder if the American League version will ever have a pitcher get more team career innings then Larry Dierker (1964 – 1976) with his 2294 innings pitched and of course Joe Niekro (1975 – 1985) with 2270 innings pitched. I don’t remember Niekro or Dierker much but I do remember watching one Houston pitcher strike guys out like crazy, Nolan Ryan. Will any pitcher on the American League Astros ever pass his 1866 strikeouts for the team in the National League? Roy Oswalt (2001 – 2010) was close with 1593 but I doubt they will ever get him back on the team. J.R. Richard (1971 – 1980) has the season high record with 313 stirkeouts in 1979. Joe Niekro holds the record for Astros wins at 144 and Roy Oswalt was one away from getting that but came up short with 143 wins. Mike Hampton (1994 – 2009) has the season high with 22 in 1999. Billy Wagner (1995 – 2003) has the lead in saves with 225 and is tied with Jose Valverde (2008 – 2009) for the season high of 44 saves. The season record for Games played by a pitcher is held by Octavio Dotel (2000 – 2004) with 83 in 2002 and of course Dave Smith (1980 – 1990) has the career record with 563.
The one thing that comes to mind now as we head into their last season in the National League is; ‘There is no tomorrow…’ I hope they go out with their boots on and give it all they got. And I hope that when they get to the American League they kick the living tar out of them all just to show ’em how tough the National League really is.
Find out what Astros fans think by checking out Dierk’s Dugout.