Carlos Obed Baerga Ortiz (born November 4, 1968 in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico) is a former Major League Baseball player. After spending most of his career as a second baseman, he was used at various positions late in his career.
As a child, Baerga dreamed of becoming a member of the Santurce Crabbers. This dream would not come true, however, until well after he had begun his career in the major leagues.
In November 4, 1985, at the age of sixteen, Baerga was signed by the San Diego Padres. On December 6, 1989, San Diego traded him to the Cleveland Indians along with Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Chris James in exchange for established power-hitter Joe Carter. Baerga debuted as a major league baseball player with the Indians, on April 14, 1990. That year, he would hit 17 doubles and seven home runs, while averaging .260 at the plate.
Over the next four years, his home run and batting averages numbers rose steadily, hitting 11 home runs, and batting for an average of .288 in 1991, getting 20 home runs and averaging .312 in 1992, and with 21 home runs and an average of .321 in 1993. In 1992, he reached two hundred hits in one season for the first time, getting 205 hits that year. In 1993, he duplicated the mark of 200 hits, with exactly 200.
Baerga became the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby in 1922 to have back-to-back 200+ hit, 20+ home run, 100+ RBI, and .300+ average seasons when he accomplished the feat in 1992-93. He was a 3 time all star in 1992, 1993, and 1994 seasons.
The switch-hitting Baerga was the first of two players to have ever hit one home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning. He did so on April 8, 1993, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium against New York Yankees pitchers Steve Howe and Steve Farr in the game's 7th inning. On August 29, 2002, he was joined by Chicago Cubs utility player Mark Bellhorn, who completed the feat against the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the Indians' most reliable pinch hitter
1995 was another year plagued by the on-going strike. When baseball resumed, Baerga quickly got back into the swing of things, getting 175 hits and 15 home runs in 139 games. He had a .314 average. The Indians made it to the World Series, where they fell to the Atlanta Braves in six games (Baerga flew out to Marquis Grissom for the final out).
Baerga played 100 games with the Indians in 1996, before being traded to the New York Mets on July 29, 1996, with Alvaro Espinoza, for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino. He collected 129 hits with twelve home runs that year, hitting only .193 after being traded to the Mets. He ended that year with an average of .254. Over the next two season with the Mets, Baerga had below average seasons, hitting nine home runs and batting .281 in 1997, and seven home runs and .266 in 1998. He was granted free agency on October 26, 1998.
Decline and retirementEdit
In January 27, 1999, Baerga was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals and released before the season began, the Cincinnati Reds signed him and after letting him hit .290 in the minors, released him in midseason. The San Diego Padres put him in the minors for 21 games, as he hit .286, and brought him up for 33 games where he hit .250. Bought by Cleveland in August, he hit .228 in 31 games with them.
Signed briefly by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000, Baerga did not appear in the majors that year. He felt that he could no longer perform as a major leaguer. In 2001, he played in an independent league and in the Korean Baseball Organization. Then he retired, and bought the Crabbers, becoming player-manager and realizing his childhood dream. However, after only one season, the Crabbers were forced to move to Bayamon, where they became the Cowboys.
Return to major leaguesEdit
In 2002, Baerga returned to the majors. That year, he got 52 hits with the Boston Red Sox, primarily serving as a pinch-hitter and designated hitter. In 2003, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he collected 71 hits for the team. The Diamondbacks re-signed him for 2004, but the aging Baerga, now prone to injury, got hurt again and was only able to play in 20 games that season. He was signed by the Washington Nationals to a minor league contract before the 2005 season and played 93 games for them. He also played for Puerto Rico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Baerga collected 1,543 hits in his MLB career, with 134 home runs, and a batting average of .292.
As a broadcaster, Baerga has enjoyed prominence as a color commentator for Monday Night Baseball retransmissions in Spanish on ESPN Dos for the Mexico-Caribbean-Venezuela region. He is an analyst on Beisbol Esta Noche (the Spanish version of Baseball Tonight) on ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America. He is recognized by fans and fellow co-workers as "Carlos Obed".
Baerga became an Evangelical Christian during the early 2000s, and he took former world boxing champion and personal friend Alex Sanchez with him to church one day. The former world champion also became a Christian on the day of the visit. In turn, Sanchez brought over Felix Trinidad to the church that Baerga attended, and Trinidad became a born-again Christian as well. Baerga joined the church where his father-in-law was a pastor. Baerga has a wife Marian, a daughter Karla, and a son Carlos Jr.
- List of famous Puerto Ricans
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference