It's been a rough couple of weeks for baseball fans. We lost Ralph Kiner on February 6th, and now we've lost six-time All-Star shortstop and former MLB manager Jim Fregosi at the age of 71. Since his passing, players, fans, and media members have been reflecting warmly on Fregosi as a "baseball lifer" and all around good guy.
What I haven't heard many people mention is that Jim Fregosi was arguably the best shortstop of the 1960s. Though he didn't play his first full season until 1963, Fregosi accumulated more fWAR (34.2) during the 1960s than any other shortstop. Adept with the bat and in the field, Fregosi's 116 wRC+ during the 1960s was second only to Detroit's Dick McAuliffe (118 wRC+).
At the height of his powers (1963-1971), Fregosi was more than 10.0 fWAR better than any other shortstop. Normally that type of dominance over a long period of time is rewarded with enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Younger baseball fans like myself remember Fregosi best as the manager of the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, the swashbuckling, mullet-clad group of players (most notably, John Kruk and Lenny Dykstra) who went on to win the 1993 NL pennant.
Readers of Beyond the Box Score will also remember that as a manager Fregosi was an early adopter of the platoon strategy, and his 1993 Phillies utilized platoons at three different positions.
Feel free to share your favorite memories and stories of Jim Fregosi in the comments below.
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All statistics courtesy of our friends at FanGraphs