Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Walt Bond, 1962 Cleveland Indians

Walt Bond was a slugger in the mould of, I don’t know…Billy Ashley? J.R. Phillips? Well, lots of people. The difference is, when Bond got his opportunities, he made good (sort of). In 1960/61, Bond wracked up 209 undistinguished plate appearances with the Indians, who he had signed with as an undrafted free agent in 1957. In 1962, with the truly average Tito Francona entrenched at first base, Bond spent another year riding the pine for Cleveland, collecting only 54 plate appearances over 12 games. Those twelve games, though, allowed Bond to very briefly set the world afire. Bond collected 6 home runs, 3 doubles, and a .380/.426/.800 slash line to finish the year with a 226 OPS+. His season marked the first time in baseball history someone had collected 40 or more total bases (he had exactly 40) in 15 or fewer games. In the same way Mike Benjamin’s three game tear in June, 1995 got him another look around baseball, Bond suddenly piqued the interest of some GMs. In December, 1963 the Houston Colt .45s purchased Bond, who would serve as their new first sacker. Bond played this position adequately throughout the 1964 season, popping 20 homers in 597 plate appearances, good for a 108 OPS+. After slumping ever so slightly in 1965 (7 HR, 106 OPS+) and missing the entire next year, Houston traded Bond to Minnesota for the Ken Retzer (is there another one I don’t know about?) After 20 plate appearances with the ’67 Twins, Bond retired to his Houston home before succumbing to leukemia later that year. Bond’s illness cut short a career that, judging from his 162 game averages (18 HR, 79 RBI, 109 OPS+) would have made him an above-average big leaguer. While he spent a career playing like Mickey Brantley (similarity score: 962), he spent a dozen games as the greatest slugger this side of Barry Bonds.

40+ TB, 15- G

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