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Life: Baseball fans will remember Incaviglia as a hirsute, impossibly sweaty, and — as he entered his 30s — replacement-level power hitter. Fans of college baseball, however, likely know him as The Greatest Hitter Ever. In three seasons at Oklahoma State, he amassed a (still) record 100 home runs*, hitting an (also still) record 48 in his junior year alone. Entering the draft, Incaviglia demanded to forego the minor leagues entirely and eventually landed with the Texas Rangers, for whom he hit 30 homers and slashed .250/.320/.463 (108 wRC+) in his rookie (age-22) season. Unfortunately, his approach at the plate failed to develop any further and, though he ended his career with 206 home runs, finished with just a 12.2 WAR over parts of 12 seasons. In 1999, Baseball America named Incaviglia the College Player of the Century.
*Making this record more significant is the fact that, while four-year players are eligible, Incaviglia left OSU after his third year there.
Spiritual Exercise: While Incaviglia, as a 22-year-old, was certainly capable of not failing in the majors, we can also probably take for granted that he would have benefited, at some level, from a certain amount of minor-league service time. Was it his responsibility to recognize this, or his organization’s? When, generally, is it best to recognize — or alternatively, ignore — one’s limits?
A Prayer for Pete Incaviglia
“Get your meathooks off of her,”
is something I’d yell at you
only after a great deal
of nervous introspection
and probably liquor.
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