While discussing Milton Bradley‘s comments that, because no team seemed willing to give him more than a one-year deal, he did whatever possible to preserve statistics for salary maximization purposes, I could not help but think about Reggie Sanders. Not because Sanders in any way ever acted similarly to Bradley but rather that he always seemed to be signing one-year deals with new teams. After eight seasons with the Reds (1991-98), Sanders went onto sign single season contracts in each of the next five seasons. Add in his final year with the Reds and first season on a 2-yr deal with the Cardinals and, from 1998-2004, Sanders played fro seven different teams in seven seasons.
In actuality, Sanders shares more of a bond with Bradley than meets the eye. Both produced at a high level despite missing a plethora of time due to injuries. The biggest difference between the two deals with attitude, in that Bradley is perceived to have a bad one, while nobody really knows anything about Sanders. The fact of the matter is that, regardless of how productive of a career he may have had, Reggie Sanders was a very boring player. Because he lacked commercial appeal and actually spoke humbly with the media, Sanders never became a well-known star and has realistically already been forgotten by hordes of fans.
Which is a shame given that his career really was remarkably better than most remember. Over 16 seasons, Sanders hit .267/.343/.487, with a .359 wOBA, 305 HR and 304 SB. Yes, Reggie Sanders is one of only six members of the 300-300 club, whose other members include Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Steve Finley. On top of that, since 1901, only five players have hit 275+ HR, stolen 275+ bases, recorded an OBP > .335 and an SLG > .475: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Eric Davis, and Reggie Sanders.
So, what’s the point of all this? Well, it’s a tad annoying that fans and media members generally want players to be as humble as possible, yet someone with a career as solid as Sanders is instantly forgotten because he wasn’t a cocky or loudmouthed malcontent. Ten years from now, Milton Bradley is going to be remembered… Reggie Sanders is already forgotten by many as I type these words. With that in mind, I am hereby starting the Reggie Sanders Club of Boring Stars, whose members will include players that put up very solid numbers similar to those of Sanders, no shot at the Hall of Fame, and who were boring, or at the very least, not famous for their attitudes or statistics.
Colleague Matthew Carruth pointed out that any sort of query to find such members would need to feature something like OPS+ in order to acknowledge the difference in eras. Sanders had a career OPS+ of 115, so I looked for players with at least 200 HR, 100 SB, and an OPS+ between 105 and 135, and then eliminated anyone who did not fit the aforementioned criteria, IE, non-boring, potential HOFers. The list quickly dwindled to five potential candidates, all of whom I am comfortable with inducting: Ellis Burks, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, Mike Cameron, and Ray Lankford.
If anyone has other suggestions, please let me know, as my ultimate goal here is to recognize the players that actually embody what fans and the media seem to love so much.