Image credit: Vector image by VectorStock / Pau2000
January 23 – Happy 50th birthday, Erubiel Durazo
Who knows how many homers the man would’ve clobbered if his back acted like a normal back. Born in the Sonoran capital of Hermosillo, Mexico, Durazo moved four hours north to Tucson, where he played high school and junior college ball, but still didn’t get anyone to draft him. He played two seasons for Monterrey in the Mexican League and caught the eyes of Diamondbacks scouts in 1999. Short-armed but powerful and patient, Durazo exploded up the minor league ladder to the majors, hitting 11 homers in 52 games and supplanting Travis Lee at first base. However with Mark Grace also going to the desert, he never got the chance to play a full season (but was on the 2001 championship team) until being traded to the A’s after the 2002 season. He hit over 20 homers with a high on-base percentage in each of the two full seasons there (even getting MVP votes, plural, in 2004). Since 1995, his career .381 OBP is among the top 50—and a thousandth better than A-Rod’s.
January 23 – Happy 50th birthday, Mark Watson
Watson pitched in 11 major-league games while being in eight different organizations, which is quite the underdog ratio. Seven of those appearances were shutout relief outings—including his first two, both against the Yankees in 2000 while pitching for Cleveland, a promising sign of things to come. But one of those appearances was an eight-run disaster in 2002, when he was with the Mariners and his opponents were the Angels. That swelled his career ERA to 10.95. Elementary.