If the kid doesn’t at least throw seven shutout innings, it will be a catastrophe!

It’s not that hard to find an outfielder, II: More expansion teams who had better outfields than the 2009 Braves.

Because they were in Ball Four, the 1969 Seattle Pilots are probably the second-most-famous expansion team (after the 1962 Mets). Some of the guys in the book were actually pretty good, especially Mike Hegan, who when he played (he got into only 95 games) had a .427 OBP. Wayne Comer was pretty good in center; Tommy Davis and Tennis Ball Head Hovley were mediocre, but (say it together) mediocre is a lot better than what the Braves are getting!

The 1969 Royals had an outfield of Lou Piniella, Bob Oliver, and Pat Kelly, all of whom were decent; Piniella won the Rookie of the Year. They also had a good fourth outfielder, Ed Kirkpatrick.

The best player in expansion history surely must be Rusty Staub on the 1969 Expos. Staub was just 25 and freed from the Astrodome (where he’d managed to make two All-Star teams anyway) he had his finest year, one that would have received MVP consideration on a real ballclub. The Expos also had the old M-Brave Mack Jones doing fine work in left, and utility player Ron Fairly was excellent. They didn’t really have a centerfielder until they traded for Adolfo Phillips, and he stunk, though he was still better than Francoeur.

I think that the 1969 Padres must be the least memorable of expansion teams, or at least I can never remember them. (I was negative two at the time, but that’s no excuse.) They had a donut outfield, with strong hitters in the corners in Al Ferrara and Downtown Ollie Brown, but Cito Gaston in center was terrible. He’d have some good years later on. (It is fairly common on expansion teams and the equivalent to have strong play in the corners and poor play at the premium defensive positions, because there are lots of guys who can hit some and lots of gloves, but guys who can hit and field are rare. In other words, you can usually find a bat to stash in left field.)

The 1977 Mariners had an extremely unusual expansion player, almost as unusual as Staub, in Ruppert Jones, a 22-year-old centerfielder with All-Star ability that the Royals for some reason (maybe that they already had Amos Otis, Al Cowens, Hal McRae, and Willie Wilson) left exposed for the expansion draft. Jones did make the All-Star team that year (and once more in his career); he was one of those guys who always seemed disappointing but had some good years. Leroy Stanton in right was a more typical expansion player, a slugger who’d be out of the league in a couple of years, but had a big year. Steve Braun in left was poor, but (all together now!) a lot better than what the Braves are trotting out.

The 1977 Blue Jays were another donut team; they didn’t really have a centerfielder at all; the one Baseball-Reference lists there got into sixty games and hit .216/.246/.264, which was bad even then. They did have a pretty good right fielder in Otto Velez, a mediocre-to-poor (better than Francoeur!) left fielder in Al Woods, and a good utility man in Bob Bailor who played 63 games in the outfield.