I was 18 years old when the 1982 Bill James Baseball Abstract came out. I spent the mid and late ’80’s being horrified with the management of the Atlanta Braves, and nothing symbolizes that dreadful time better than the presence of Braves One Year Waner, Omar Moreno, in 1986.
Braves One Year Wanker, Omar Moreno
The Braves signed Moreno as a free agent during spring training. Moreno was pretty famous – from 1978 to 1980 Moreno stole 71, 77, and 96 bases respectively, and was the center fielder for the ’79 World Series champion Pirates, where he played for the Braves new manager, Chuck Tanner. Why wouldn’t we want to add a player like that? Let us count the ways.
First of all, Moreno was 27 years old in 1980. In 1986, he was 33. Also in 1980, he had an OBP of .306. The man got on base by hit or by walk 225 times in 1980, and stole 96 bases. He was able to make such efficient use of converting on base opportunities into stolen bases partly by limiting his extra base hits. He had 35 extra base hits all season, and slugged .325. Do a back of the envelope projection as to what this 27 year old might do at age 33, and we’ll come back to this.
But What About the Season Prior?
But enough about the past. How was he the season before? Maybe he aged gracefully, or had a late career surge. Is there anything in his 1985 record to indicate this might be somebody you would want to sign? In 1985, Moreno split time between the Yankees and Royals collecting 143 plate appearances. His line was .221/.246/.382. He stole 1 base.
OK, maybe it’s not fair to make a projection for 1986 based on 143 plate appearances. Maybe Moreno’s numbers for the Braves wouldn’t be too bad for a center fielder. LOL, the Braves already had a center fielder. His name was Dale Murphy. 1986 Omar Moreno made 89 appearances as a corner outfielder, 12 as a center fielder.
Let’s come back to your back of the envelope projection. Did you have anything resembling this 33 year old corner outfielder putting up a .234/.276/.351 line? While stealing 17 bases and getting caught 16 times? I bet you did, and congratulations if so.
But hang on just one more time. Maybe, just maybe, that’s acceptable from your 8th place hitter. Just kidding, Moreno led off in 66 of his 78 starts and batted 2nd in 11 others.
The End for Omar Moreno
Moreno was released in October, 1986. He never played in the big leagues again. Omar, if you’re out there, congratulations on your long career, your stolen base titles, and your World Championship. It’s not your fault it didn’t work out in Atlanta. Anybody should have been able to see it coming.
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