Please welcome Jeff Zimmerman (TucsonRoyal) to the BtB editorial team. Jeff's been a part of our community for a while, and I'm a big fan of his ability to conduct interesting, in-depth research. While he usually focuses on the numbers side of the game, this more Jamesian piece is a phenomenal way for Jeff to introduce himself. Enjoy!
Motivated by the “All Jim Team” that Bill James created which only contains players who first name was Jim, I decided to create the All Jeff Team. To select the team, I used Win Shares (in parenthesis next to the player's name) and took the top players at each position with a couple of liberties. If Jeff Reed can catch and call a perfect game, I think he can handle Jeff Suppan's fastball.
As for the final team, I love the right side of the infield with Jeff Kent and Jeff Bagwell. The left side of the infield, outfield and starting pitching are good, but not great. Once we get to the pen, though, I like our chances with both Reardon and Montgomery in it.
Without further ado, here is your All Jeff Team, complete with major career highlights and interesting facts.
Catcher - Jeff Reed (74) – 1984 to 1990 – First round pick by Twins in 1980 - Jeff's crowning achievement was catching Tom Browning's perfect game in 1988. That same year, there was a fan club started for Jeff in Scranton, PA. The club wanted to follow and root for an obscure player and Jeff got the call. Interesting enough, the final game he ever played was in Scranton.
Reed was my wife's maiden name, which is quite a bit shorter than Zimmerman. She joked that I could be named after Jeff Reed, the kicker for the Steelers, while I kept bring up the injury prone Jeff Zimmerman. I am glad she didn't find out there was also a Jeff Reed in baseball.
First Base - Jeff Bagwell (388) – 1991 to 2005 – All Star 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999, 1991 Rookie of the Year, 1994 MVP, 1994 Glove Glove - Jeff's career at Houston wouldn't have happened if he had not been traded by Boston in 1990 for the almighty Larry Anderson. Once in Houston, he became a star and along with Craig Biggio, Derek Bell, Sean Berry, Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran was a member of the Killer B's.
Second Base - Jeff Kent (344) – 1992 to 2008 – All-Star 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005, 2005 MVP, All-time leader for home runs by a second baseman - In 1992, Jeff was traded by the Blue Jays to the Mets for David Cone. Both were in the beginning of their careers and who could have guessed how big that trade would be looking back.
Jeff has always played with an edge about him. He was kicked off his high school baseball team, in New York routinely fought with his teammates (became know as Jeff Can't), got into it with the Giants management for breaking his wrist
riding his motorcycle which was against his contract washing his truck and got into a shoving match with Barry Bonds in the dugout while they were with the Giants.
With all this baggage and not being know as one of the better defensive second basemen, Jeff may go down as one of the greatest second basemen of all time.
Shortstop - Jeff Blauser (154) – 1987 to 1999 – 5th overall pick 1984 draft, All-Star 1993 and 1997 - After retirement, Jeff went on to manage the the Atlanta Braves AA team, the Mississippi Braves.
Third Base - Jeff Cirillo (169) – 1194 to 2007 – All-Star 1997 and 2000 – Jeff holds the record for most consecutive games at third base without an error at 99 games, was Randy Johnson's 4000th strikeout victim, and holds the esteemed MLB record for playing the most games while never making the post season.
Currently, Jeff is the Brewer's broadcaster for FSN Wisconsin.
Outfield - Jeff Burroughs (196) – 1970 to 1985 – All Star (1974 and 1978), MVP 1974, 1st overall pick 1969 draft – Jeff was one of only four number one draft picks to win the MVP award. Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Chipper Jones were the other three.
Jeff's most infamous story is being in the middle of a Ten Cent Beer Night fiasco in Cleveland on June 4th, 1974. The game started as any 10 cent beer night should, with a woman flashing the crowd from the on-deck circle, a man streaking naked to second base, Mike Hargrove almost getting hit with an empty gallon jug of Thunderbird, and -- keeping it a family event -- a father and son mooned the crowd from the outfield.
Near the end of the game a fan jumped on the field and tried to steal Jeff's hat. Jeff confronted a him and tripped in the process. Texas' manager Billy Martin thought Jeff was being attacked and went to the outfield with his team to save Jeff. On the way out of the dugout, they armed themselves with bats. Several fans, armed with knives and stadium chairs, confronted the rescue squad, while others threw objects at the players. Ken Aspromonte, the Indians' manager, ordered his players to help the Rangers and they also took the field armed with bats. Jeff was rescued and this great picture was taken as the Rangers headed back to the dugout (Jeff is in the middle):
Besides some bumps and scrapes, no one from either team was seriously hurt.
Jeff is now enjoying life coaching his son's little league team and the Long Beach All-Stars.
Outfield - Jeff Conine (196) – 1990 to 2007 – All-Star 1994 and 1995 - Jeff is the only player to play on both the Florida Marlins 1997 and 2003 championship teams and is know as Mr. Marlin for his time in south Florida.
Jeff and his wife are world class racket ball players and he is currently (Spring 2009) preparing to run the Iron Man Triathlon.
Outfield - Jeff Heath (217) - 1936 to 1949 – All-Star 1941 and 1943 - Jeff held the major league record for career home runs by a player born outside the United States from 1945 to 1955 until Robby Thompson eventually passed him.
Catcher - Jeff Newman (38) -1976 to 1984 – All Star 1979 - Jeff managed the Oakland A's in 1986 as the interim manager after Jackie Moore was fired and before Tony LaRussa was hired.
Corner Infielder - Jeff King (115) – 1989 to 1999 - 1st overall draft pick 1986 – Jeff abruptly announced his retirement mid-season in 1999, citing his bad back. Too bad, because he had one of the best 'staches in the game:
Middle Infielder - Jeff Reboulet (54) – 1992 to 2003 – Jeff's lifetime line of a .240 batting average to go with 20 home runs and 202 RBIs (looks sort of like a single season from Joe Carter when he was third in MVP voting: .264/34/119). With numbers like that a person can just imagine how much excitement Jeff brought to the fans as a player.
Currently, Jeff is working for Horizon Wealth Management which helps athletes with financial planning.
Outfield - Jeffrey Leonard (127) -1977 to 1990 - All-Star 1987 and 1989 – Jeff won the 1987 NLCS Most Valuable Player Award and was the last player to do so as a member of the losing team. During that series, he hit a home run and took almost a minute to round the bases. When he got up the next time to hit, he was promptly plucked in the arm and took his base with out much reaction. When asked what he thought about getting hit, he said "My trots dictated that something like that might happen."
Before that year, Jeff was part of the Pittsburgh drug trials with Keith Hernandez and was suspended for the entire 1986 season for admitting to cocaine abuse. He was able to avoid the sentence.
After coaching and managing several teams since retirement, Jeff is currently the manager of the Reno Silver Sox of the Golden Baseball League.
Outfield - Jeffrey Hammonds (81) – 1993 to 2005 - 1st round pick 1989, All-Star 2000 - In 2001 Jeff signed a 3 year, 21 million dollar deal with the Brewers, that has gone down as the biggest free agent bust in Brewers history so far. He was injured most of the 2001 and 2003 seasons, while hitting only 9 home runs along with 41 RBIs in 2002.
Starting Pitcher - Jeff Pfeffer (Edward Joseph) (178) – 1991 to 1924 – Jeff started 280 games and completed 194 of them for a record of 158-112. It is incredible the number of complete games from that era of baseball. He was named after his brother who was called Francis "Big Jeff" Pfeffer. His brother, also a major leaguer, got his nickname from the heavyweight boxing champ at the time, James "Big Jeff" Jeffries (see bonus material at end of article). Edward became know as "Jeff" since his brother was "Big Jeff".
John Bennett, at The SABR Biography Project, has written a good historical piece on Jeff.
Starting Pitcher - Jeff Fassero (125) – 1991 to 2006 – Jeff made his major league debut with the Montreal Expos as a 28 year old. While with the Expos, be became their left-handed leader in career wins with 58. Here is the top ten list of the leading left-handers in wins for the Expos. It's really a who's who of baseball:
Jeff Fassero 58
Woodie Fryman 51
Dan Schatzeder 37
Chris Nabholz 34
Ross Grimsley 32
Joe Hesketh 29
Carlos Perez 29
Bill Lee 25
Kirk Rueter 25
Rudy May 18
Jeff was with the Rockies in 2004 when he was called on to make an unplanned start. Jeff said he would not make the start and was quickly released. Jeff has tried to come back in the major leagues with no success and is currently pitching for Mayos de Navojoa in Liga Mexicana del Pacífico at the age of 46.
Starting Pitcher - Jeff Suppan (111) - 1995 to current – Jeff's on-field production can be described as average and consistent. Off the field, he makes up for it with many great tidbits:
Jeff owns Soup's Grill, a restaurant in Los Angeles, CA specializing in "Philly Food".
He participated in a commericial that was in opposition to the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. It ran after an ad with Michael J. Fox supporting the initiative during the 2006 World Series. The ads were aimed at Missouri residents since the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series that year.
Jeff is devout Catholic and appears in the DVD, "Champions of Faith".
Along with Chirs Capuano, Bill Hall and J.J. Hardy, Jeff "acted" in an episode of "The Young and the Restless".
Starting Pitcher - Jeff (Charles Monroe) Tesreau (119) – 1912 to 1918 – Jeff was another turn of the century workhorse with 123 complete game in 206 starts. Jeff Tesreu, like Jeff Pfeffer, got his name because, according to sportswriter Bill McBeth, he resembled the boxer James Jeffries. Since two players in this article were named after James Jeffries, I went ahead and created a writeup on Jeffries at the end of the article.
Jeff threw a spitball and was pretty good at it as described by Jonny Evers, "That big fellow has the best spitball in the league. I think he is as good with the spitter as Ed Walsh."
He quit baseball and became a coach at Dartmouth College after he refused to report back to John McGraw on the nightly happenings of a team Jeff was coaching on a road trip through the South.
Jeff also has a piece on him at The SABR Biography Project, written by R. J. Lesch.
Starting Pitcher - Jeff Weaver (77) – 1999 to current – 1st round pick 1988 - He is the only known player that was demoted to the minor leagues and replaced with his younger brother.
Relief Pitcher - Jeff Parrett (52) – 1986-1996 – In 1990, Jeff was traded from Philadelphia to Atlanta for Dale Murphy and was also on the inaugural Colorado Rockies team.
Relief Pitcher - Jeff Nelson (72) – 1992 to 2006 – All-Star 2001 - In 2007 Jeff had an operation to remove bone chips from his throwing shoulder. He put the chips up for sale on Ebay to raise money for his kid's school, but Ebay removed the auction as they don't allow the sale of body parts.
Relief Pitcher - Jeff "Cowboy" Brantley (88)- 1988 to 2001 – All Star 1990 – After retirement, Jeff was baseball commentator for ESPN and contributed to Baseball Tonight from 2002 through 2006. In 2007, he joined to Cincinnati Reds to broadcast their games.
On July 27th, 2008 Ken Griffey made a throat slashing gesture with his hands towards Jeff during a game. Griffey said it was because Jeff had said Griffey was not playing his best because his extension was not picked up. Jeff disagrees and thought it was because he had been making comments about Griffey's bad defense (which might be why the extension was not picked up).
Relief Pitcher - Jeff Shaw (97) – 1990 to 2001 – All-Star 1998 and 2001 - In 1998 Jeff was selected to the All-Star game as a Red, but was traded to the Dodgers at the All-Star break, so his first game in a Dodger uniform was at the All-Star Game.
Jeff is currently a pitching coach at a high school in Washington Court House and member of the Midwest Baseball Academy.
Relief Pitcher - Jeff Russell (104) – 1983 to 1996 – All-Star 1988 and 1989 - As far as I could find out, he is still alive. I don't know what he's up to, though. Probably fishing.
Relief Pitcher - Jeff Montgomery (134) – 1987 to 1989 - All-Star 1992,1993 and 1996 - On April 29, 1990 Jeff became the 38th pitcher in league history to pitch an Immaculate Inning when he struck out three Texas batters (Pete Incaviglia -- tough one there -- Geno Petralli and Thad Bosley) on exactly nine pitches.
Since retirement, Jeff has been inducted in the the Royal's Hall of Fame, produced an instructional video (The Fundamentals of Pitching with Jeff Montgomery) and is currently the Vice-President of Union Broadcasting in Kansas City, Missouri. Union Broadcasting owns 810 WHB where Jeff hosted a program on Thursdays nights called "The Baseball Hour".
Relief Pitcher - Jeff Reardon (157) – 1979 to 1994 – All-Star 1985,1986, 1988 and 1991 - In 1992 Jeff became the all time saves leader breaking Rollie Fingers record of 342. The next year, Lee Smith passed Jeff to take the title away.
Jeff was having a pretty laid back retirement until February 2004 when his son died of a drug overdose. Jeff became extremely depressed and sought out and received medical help for depression. About two years later, he was arrested for robbing cash from a jewelry store. He was distraught over the suicide of Tony Dungy's son and had varying degrees of 12 different antidepressants in his body at the time of his arrest. At trial he was found not guilty for reasons of insanity. Here is Jeff's arrest mug shot -- at first I thought it was Bill James
Manager - Jeff Torborg - Record 634-718 – A.L. Manager of the Year Award 1990 – Jeff was a catcher in the big leagues and seemed to be in the right place at the right time for catching some big games such as Bill Singer's no-hitter, Nolan Ryan's first no-hitter and Sandy Koufax's perfect game.
In 2003 he was fired as the Marlins' manager and was replaced with Jack McKeon. Jack went on to lead the Marlins to the World Series Championship.
Umpire – Jeff Kellogg – NL umpire to 1999, MLB umpire to current – umpired 1997 All-Star game and the 2000, 2003 and 2008 World Series - What else can be said about an umpire except that he should go get his eyes checked.
Here are some additional Jeffs that didn't make the list, but still had semi-decent major league careers (20 or more Win Shares).
Jeff Treadway, Jeff Frye, Jeff Francoeur. Jeff Reboulet, Jeff Parrett, Jeff Robinson, Jeff Francis, Jeff Newman, Jeff Davanon, Jeff Huson, Jeff D'Amico, Jeff Branson, Jeff Zimmerman, Jeff Dedmon, Jeff Ballard, Jeff Innis, Jeff Torborg, Jeff Robinson, Jeff Lahti, Jeff Stone, Jeff Hamilton, Jeff Tam and Jeff Keppinger.
James J. Jeffries – In 1899, James defeated Bob Fitzsimmons to win the heavyweight boxing championship which he defended seven times until he retired in 1905.
In 1910 James came out of retirement to fight Jack Johnson, who had recently become the new heavyweight champ. This fight was billed as the "Fight of the Century", not because of the quality of the boxers (even though they were both good), but because Johnson was black and Jeffries was white and being hyped as the "Great White Hope". James stated about the fight, "I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro."
The Fight was on July 4th during the day in Reno, Nevada. Talk about ideal conditions. It was a pretty brutal fight, but in the later rounds, Jack Johnson began to gain the advantage over Jeffries. In the 15th round Jeffries' corner threw in the towel because they didn't want a white man to get knocked out by a black man.
Later in his life, Jeffries trained boxers at "Jeffries Barn" in Burbank California. The barn was later sold and is now part of Knott's Berry Farm.