Monday, January 5, 2009

He Played for the Red Sox? Carlos Baerga

Best known for his time with the Cleveland Indians during the early 1990s, Carlos Baerga spent the 2002 season with the Red Sox. Baseball history is littered with players who burst into the sport at the start of their careers looking like surefire Hall of Famers, only to flame out and vanish as quickly as they arrived. Carlos Baerga is a card carrying member of this dubious club. From 1990 through 1995, as the Indians starting second baseman, Baerga was one of the hottest players on a talented young team full of future Hall of Famers (Thome, Ramirez, Vizquel). In 1992 and 1993 he became the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby to have back-to-back 200+ hit, 20+ home run, 100+ RBI, and .300+ average seasons and received MVP votes in both seasons.

Baerga’s production quickly tailed off after 1995 and he spent the next several years bouncing around various teams and their minor leagues (including a stint in the Korean Baseball Organization) before landing with the Red Sox in 2002. He made appearances in 73 games for the Red Sox, mostly as a designated hitter/pinch hitter. While his numbers for the 2002 season are pretty inconsequential, his finest moment as a Red Sox may have come on May 24 in an extra-innings game against the Yankees. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 11th inning, Baerga hit a stinging line drive to center field. Bernie Williams caught the ball, but it was it deep enough to score the runner from third to win the game. And while it may be a relatively inconsequential hit in the grand scheme of his career, it’s the scenario that every kid in his backyard pretends and dreams about.

Baerga signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a free agent in 2003 went on to have his best year since 1995. He finally retired in 2005 and is currently an analyst for ESPN Deportes.

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