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John Olerud

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John Olerud

A photo of John Olerud.

John Garrett Olerud (Template:PronEng, born August 5, 1968; nicknamed Big Rude and Johnny O), is a former American first baseman in Major League Baseball. Olerud played with the Toronto Blue Jays (1989-96), New York Mets (1997-99), Seattle Mariners (2000-2004), New York Yankees (2004) and Boston Red Sox (2005).

Known for having one of the smoothest swings in the game, as well as for wearing a helmet even when fielding, Olerud was an excellent line drive hitter to all parts of the field. He had one of the best batting eyes in baseball, usually drawing 90-100 walks a season. Despite being one of the slowest players in MLB (he had a record nine seasons with more than 400 plate appearances and no stolen bases), Olerud was also a very intelligent base runner. A three-time Gold Glove winner, he was an excellent defensive first baseman and part of Sports Illustrated's "Greatest Infield Ever"[1] with Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordóñez, and Robin Ventura.

CareerEdit

Washington State UniversityEdit

1987
Batting: .414, 5 HR, 20 RBIs
Pitching: 8-2, 3.00 ERA
Honors: Freshman All-American

1988
Batting: .464, 23 HR, 81 RBIs, 108 hits, 204 total bases, .876 Slugging percentage
Pitching: 15-0, 113 Ks, 2.49 ERA
Honors: Consensus All-American as both 1B and Pitcher, Baseball America College Player of the Year

1989 (While recovering from brain aneurysm)
Batting: .359, 5 HR, 30 RBI, in 78 plate appearances
Pitching: 3-2, 6.68 ERA
Honors: Pac-10 North All-League DH

ProfessionalEdit

In a 17-season career through 2005 spanning 2,234 games, Olerud posted a .398 on-base percentage, 500 doubles, 255 home runs, 1,275 walks, 1,408 runs created, 3,602 times on base, 96 sacrifice flies and 157 intentional walks. He was also hit by a pitch 88 times and grounded into 232 double plays during his career.

Well known for beginning his professional career in the Majors and not having played a game in the minor leagues until his late thirties, Olerud jumped directly to the majors after a stellar career at Washington State University where he was a pitcher noted for his performance from 1987 to 1989. He was known for wearing a batting helmet in the field as a precaution since he suffered a brain aneurysm while playing in college.

Olerud broke into MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989. He was platooned by Jays' manager Cito Gaston for the first few years of his career, until his breakout season in 1993, when he led the American League in batting average (.363), Runs created (156), Intentional Walks (33), times on base (321), on-base percentage (.473), OPS (1.072), and doubles (54, also a career high), while posting career highs in home runs (24), RBI (107), runs (109), and hits (200).

A two-time All-Star, Olerud was a member of two World Series champion teams with the Blue Jays (1992-93). He could not duplicate his success in the next three years which some Blue Jay fans believe is because of Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston tried to turn him into a power hitter, and was traded to the New York Mets in December 1996.

With the Mets, Olerud set team single season records for batting average (.354), on-base percentage (.447) and runs created (138) in 1998 and set their team records for most walks (125) and times on base (309) in a season in 1999. Also during his 1999 campaign, Olerud appeared on the cover of the September 6 issue of Sports Illustrated, along with fellow Mets infielders Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordóñez, and Robin Ventura. The magazine raised the debate as to whether the four talented defensive players comprised the best infield in Major League history.

Following the 1999 season, Olerud decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners to be near his family. He was an important part of the Mariners' 116-46 2001 season with a .401 on-base percentage, 94 walks, 272 times on base and 19 intentional walks in 159 games. In 2000 he amassed 45 doubles, 102 walks, 10 sacrifice flies and 11 intentional walks. He recorded a .398 on-base percentage, 39 doubles, 98 walks, 269 times on base and led the American League in sacrifice flies (12). In 2003 he amassed another 84 walks.

After being released by the Mariners in the middle of the 2004 season, Olerud was signed by the New York Yankees to fill a void left at first base left by the injured Jason Giambi. Later that year the Yankees visited Seattle to play the Mariners. Olerud started the second game, his first time up Mariner catcher Dan Wilson went out to the mound to have a "conference" with pitcher Jamie Moyer. This gave time for about a minute long standing ovation for Olerud from the Seattle fans. His final game with the Yankees was Game 3 of the AL championship series when he was forced to leave due to an injured foot. Olerud was due to pinch hit in game seven of the AL championship series, but the last out was made while he was in the on deck circle.

On May 1, 2005, the Boston Red Sox and Olerud agreed to terms on a minor league contract. He had been recovering from surgery in November 2004 to repair torn ligaments in his left foot. Initially, Olerud reported to the club's spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida. He was added to Boston 25-man roster on May 27, sharing time at first base with Kevin Millar and batting in the middle of the lineup (included several starts in the clean-up spot).

On December 6, 2005 Olerud announced his retirement from baseball. At the time of his retirement, his 2,239 career hits represented the 143rd-highest total in Major League Baseball history. His career .398 OBP ranks 65th all-time, and his 500 doubles are good for 44th all-time.

HighlightsEdit

  • 2-time All-Star (1993, 2001)
  • 3-time AL Gold Glove Award at First Base (2000, 2002-03)
  • Hutch Award (1993)
  • Finished 3rd in voting for AL MVP (1993)
  • Finished 12th in voting for NL MVP (1998)
  • Twice led AL in Sacrifice Flies (10 in 1991 and 12 in 2002)
  • Led American League in Batting Average (.363 in 1993)
  • Led American League in On-base percentage (.473 in 1993)
  • Led AL in OPS (1.072 in 1993)
  • Led NL in Games (162 in 1999)
  • Led AL in Doubles (54 in 1993)
  • Led AL in Runs Created (156 in 1993)
  • Led AL in Times on Base (321 in 1993)
  • Led AL in Intentional Walks (33 in 1993)
  • Toronto Blue Jays Career On-base percentage (.395) Leader
  • Holds Toronto Blue Jays Single Season Record for Batting Average (.363 in 1993), On-base percentage (.473 in 1993) and Intentional Walks (33 in 1993)
  • New York Mets Career Batting Average (.315), On-base percentage (.425) and OPS (.926) Leader
  • Holds New York Mets Single Season Records for Batting Average (.354 in 1998), On-base percentage (.447 in 1998), Walks (125 in 1999), Runs Created (138 in 1998), Times on Base (309 in 1999) and shares record for being Hit by Pitch (13 in 1997)
  • Tied for 64th on MLB All-Time On-base percentage List (.398)
  • Tied for 44th on MLB All-Time Doubles List (500)
  • Ranks 40th on MLB All-Time Walks List (1,275)
  • Ranks 91st on MLB All-Time Runs Created List (1,408)
  • Ranks 74th on MLB All-Time Times on Base List (3,602)
  • Tied for 98th on MLB All-Time Hit by Pitch List (88)
  • Tied for 35th on MLB All-Time Sacrifice Fly List (96)
  • Ranks 34th on MLB All-Time Intentional Walks List (157)
  • Tied for 36th on MLB All-Time Grounded into Double Plays List (232)
  • Twice hit for the cycle (1997, 2001) and is only one of two players who have hit for it in both the American League and the National League.
  • Hit 2 home runs in a game 17 times.
  • In 14-postseason Series, he has 35 Runs, 10 Doubles, 9 Home Runs, 34 RBI, 31 Walks, .278 Batting Average, .366 On-base percentage, .435 Slugging Percentage, 1 Stolen Base and 2 Sacrifice Flies

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Sports Illustrated, Sept. 13, 1999

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Frank Thomas
Paul Molitor
American League Player of the Month
April 1993
June 1993
Succeeded by:
Paul Molitor
Rafael Palmeiro
Preceded by:
Edgar Martínez
American League Batting Champion
1993
Succeeded by:
Paul O'Neill

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