MLB: The Most Average—Yet Completely Beloved—Player in Each Team's History
Superstars are generally beloved by a team's fans because, well, they are generally the most successful players on the team that you cheer for.
But not every player who is beloved by fans is a superstar.
Often times it's the role players, the backups, the scrappy, blue-collar players that you'd like to have a beer with that really connect with fans—they seem more like regular people than the big-time, big-name superstars.
What these players lack in skill they make up for in heart and hustle—and there's something to be said for that.
There's nothing wrong with being an average, run-of-the-mill ballplayer.
People make a wonderful living doing just that.
With that being said, let's take a look at average, run-of-the-mill players who are beloved by their respective fanbases.
Arizona Diamondbacks: David Dellucci
Years Spent in Arizona: 1998-2003 (six seasons)
Diamondbacks Stats: .272/.341/.420, 25 HR, 156 RBI
A speedy, light-hitting fourth outfielder for much of his career, David Dellucci is best remembered for his pinch-running in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Inserted to run for Mark Grace, who had singled to start the bottom of the ninth, Arizona catcher Damien Miller tried bunting Dellucci into scoring position.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera fielded the bunt and threw to second base. The throw was low, and Dellucci arrived at the bag as Jeter attempted to field the ball, which ended up rolling into center field.
While Dellucci would be thrown out at third, recording the first out of the inning, his speed kept the Yankees from turning a double play and allowed the Diamondbacks to eventually win the game and their first World Series championship in one of the bigger upsets in recent World Series history.
Atlanta Braves: Mark Lemke
Years Spent in Atlanta: 1988-1997 (10 seasons)
Stats With the Braves: .248/.319/.327, 32 HR, 263 RBI
A light-hitting second baseman who amazingly was never hit by a pitch in more than 3600 plate appearances, Mark Lemke's performance in the 1991 World Series cemented his place in the annals of Braves history—even with the Braves losing the series.
Lemke had a putrid regular season, hitting .243 with 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 23 RBI.
Yet against the Twins, Lemke went off, hitting .417/.462/.708 with a double, three triples and four RBI.
His line-drive single to left field off Twins closer Rick Aguilera in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game 3 scored David Justice, winning the game for the Braves and likely preventing the Twins from pulling off a four-game sweep.
Baltimore Orioles: Jeff Ballard
Years Spent in Baltimore: 1997-1991 (five seasons)
Stats With the Orioles: 36-51, 4.63 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 695.1 IP, 812 H, 204 BB, 217 K
A seventh round pick by the Orioles out of Stanford University in 1985, it only took Jeff Ballard two years to reach the majors.
After going 10-20 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over his first two seasons—including the infamous 1988 season when the O's lost their first 21 games of the season—Ballard put together his best season in 1989, going 18-8 and finishing sixth in the voting for the AL Cy Young award.
In a conversation with Mike Klingman of the Baltimore Sun, Ballard recalls what he considered to be his most memorable game with the Orioles in which he struck out Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees three times:
I was amused, because I knew how mad it made him. I could see it on his face. It tickled me to think, Here’s a guy who thinks my pitches can’t break glass, and he can’t believe I struck him out three times.
Orioles fans voted Ballard one of their 50 favorite Orioles of all time in 2004, an honor the lefty didn't take lightly:
I’m honored that fans think that highly of me. Though I played my last two years in Pittsburgh, I never stopped calling myself an Oriole. Baltimore was home to my highs—and my lows.
Boston Red Sox: Doug Mirabelli
Years Spent in Boston: 2001-2005, 2006-2007 (parts of seven seasons)
Stats With the Red Sox: .238/.315/.433, 48 HR, 160 RBI
The only person in history to make it from Logan Airport to Fenway Park in 12 minutes, Doug Mirabelli spent the bulk of his career as a backup to Jason Varitek in Boston.
Mirabelli, who was traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2006 season, was reacquired by the Red Sox on May 1, 2006. A private jet was sent to San Diego to fly him back to Boston. He left Logan Airport via Massachusetts State Police escort at 6:48, changing into uniform en route, pulling up to Fenway at 7:00.
Less than 15 minutes later, at 7:13, Tim Wakefield threw Mirabelli the first pitch of the game.
Chicago Cubs: Jody Davis
Years Spent in Chicago: 1981-1988 (eight seasons)
Stats With the Cubs: .251/.313/.416, 122 HR, 467 RBI
Twice an All-Star and awarded a Gold Glove in 1986, Jody Davis began his Cubs career as a solid hitting catcher who couldn't field and, by the time he left Chicago, a solid defensive catcher who couldn't hit.
A favorite of Cubs fans for his blue-collar approach to the game, Davis gave it everything he had whenever he was on the field, which from 1982 through 1987 was quite a bit, playing in 846 games over the six-year stretch.
In his only postseason appearance, a losing effort against the San Diego Padres in the 1984 National League Championship Series, Davis was the Cubs best offensive player, posting a .389/.368/.833 batting line with two home runs and six RBI.
Chicago White Sox: Craig Grebeck
Years Spent in Chicago: 1990-1995 (six seasons)
Stats With the White Sox: .255/.342/.358, 12 HR, 110 RBI
On a good day, Craig Grebeck stood 5'8" tall and weighed 150 pounds.
To say he looked ridiculous sitting in his locker between physical specimens Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson would be an understatement.
Known as "Little Hurt", Grebeck was a solid utility infielder who left it all out on the field whenever he played, endearing himself to both his teammates and the fans.
Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Freel
Years Spent in Cincinnati: 2003-2008 (six seasons)
Stats With the Reds: .272/.357/.377, 22 HR, 114 RBI, 140 SB
Ryan Freel was a scrappy speedster with little in the way of power, swiping 110 bases in 141 attempts from 2004 through 2006, a 78 percent success rate.
He played both the infield and outfield with a reckless abandon, but it was in the outfield where he really won the hearts of his teammates and fans as he sacrificed his body to attempt some spectacular catches, many of which he was successful at completing.
Cleveland Indians: Cory Snyder
Years Spent in Cleveland: 1986-1990 (five seasons)
Stats With the Indians: .245/.283/.441, 115 HR, 340 RBI
While he never lived up to the lofty expectations that the Indians and their fans had for the former first-round pick and United States Olympian, Cory Snyder spent five semi-productive years roaming the outfield in Cleveland.
A power hitter with a cannon for an arm, Snyder hit 24, 33, and 26 home runs in each of his first three seasons, before steroids made those numbers seem pedestrian.
But Snyder was pedestrian, never batting higher than .272 and seemingly allergic to taking a walk, which resulted in some horrific on-base percentages.
Colorado Rockies: Jamey Carroll
Years Spent in Colorado: 2006-2007 (two seasons)
Stats With the Rockies: .275/.357/.370, 7 HR, 58 RBI
A hard-nosed infielder who endeared himself to the fans not only with his style of play but because he was the only member of the team to consistently sign autographs for fans before every home game, Jamey Carroll was a popular figure in Denver for the two years he spent there.
Carroll played solid defense as the Rockies starting second baseman in 2006, but by the time the team made their unlikely run to the World Series in 2007, he had been relegated to backup duty and went hitless in four postseason at-bats.
Detroit Tigers: John Wockenfuss
Years Spent in Detroit: 1974-1983 (10 seasons)
Stats With the Tigers: .261/.346/.439, 86 HR, 310 RBI
Armed with one of the strangest batting stances in history, John Wockenfuss spent a decade with the Detroit Tigers as the ultimate utility player.
Originally an outfielder, "Fuss" would spend time at five different positions for the Tigers, and in 1980, Sparky Anderson used him at all five: catcher, first base, third base, left field and right field.
His greatest accomplishment for the Tigers might have been as a trade chip.
In 1984, the Tigers sent Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Dave Bergman and Willie Hernandez. Hernandez would go on to win the American League MVP award, Cy Young award, and save two games in the Tigers World Series win over the San Diego Padres.
Houston Astros: Denny Walling
Years Spent in Houston: 1977-1988, 1992, (parts of 13 seasons)
Stats With the Astros: .277/.345/.402, 47 HR, 345 RBI
While he only played in more than 100 games six times during his time in Houston, Denny Walling made a career out of being a versatile utility player.
Primarily a third baseman, Walling would spend time at first base and all three outfield positions as well.
His best season would come in 1986 when he hit .312/.367/.479 with 13 home runs and 58 RBI.
Kansas City Royals: Brian McRae
Years Spent in Kansas City: 2000-2004, (five seasons)
Stats With the Royals: .262/.313/.372, 30 HR, 248 RBI, 93 SB
The son of long-time Royals player and manager Hal McRae, Brian McRae was a speedy center fielder who ended his Royals career with more triples (32) than home runs (30).
His best season came in 1993 when he hit .282/.325/.413 with 12 home runs, 69 RBI and 23 stolen bases.
Los Angeles Angels: Scott Spiezio
Years Spent in Los Angeles: 2000-2003, (four seasons)
Stats With the Angels: .268/.341/.446, 58 HR, 268 RBI
A scrappy player who spent time at multiple positions with the Angels, Scott Spiezio cemented himself in the hearts of Angels fans everywhere with his play in the 2002 postseason in which he hit .327 over three rounds.
Specifically, fans adore Spiezio for his performance in Game 6 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
Facing a must-win situation in Game 6, Spiezio stepped to the plate with two men on and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Angels trailing 5-0.
He would drive the eighth pitch that he saw from Giants reliever Felix Rodriguez deep into the stands for a three-run home run, breathing life into the Angels and propelling them to complete the comeback, winning that game 6-5 and as we know, the pivotal Game 7, clinching the championship.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jose Lima
Years Spent in Los Angeles: 2004, (one season)
Stats With the Dodgers: 13-5, 4.07 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 170.1 IP, 178 H, 34 BB, 93 K
Jose Lima, who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2010 at the age of 37, was a wildly entertaining player who brought "Lima Time" to Los Angeles by making the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee out of spring training.
While his regular season record was impressive, Lima's performance in the National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals is where he endeared himself to Dodgers fans.
Looking for their first postseason win since the championship-clinching Game 5 of the 1988 World Series, Lima took the mound for Game 3 against a Cardinals offense that had outscored the Dodgers 16-to-6 over the first two games.
Lima threw a complete game shutout against the high-powered Cardinals offense that was led by Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Larry Walker, allowing five singles while striking out four and only walking one.
While the Cardinals would go on to eliminate the Dodgers in the next game, Lima's clutch performance bought joy to a fanbase that had gone 16 years between playoff victories.
Miami Marlins: Chuck Carr
Years Spent in Florida: 1993-1995, (three seasons)
Stats With the Marlins: .256/.320/.326, 8 HR, 91 RBI, 115 SB
A speedy center fielder who had virtually nothing in the way of power, Chuck Carr became a favorite of Marlins fans due to his penchant for making spectacular catches in the outfield and stealing bases.
The problem for Carr was two-fold: he was not adept at getting on base with any regularity, and he was a cocky player who often rubbed his teammates the wrong way.
His best season in Florida was his first, 1993, where he hit .267/.327/.330 with four home runs, 41 RBI and 58 stolen bases.
Milwaukee Brewers: Rob Deer
Years Spent in Milwaukee: 1986-1990, (five seasons)
Stats With the Brewers: .229/.329/.450, 137 HR, 385 RBI
There were only two possible outcomes when Rob Deer stepped to the plate as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Deer was either going to hit a mammoth home run deep into the night, or he was going to strikeout in equally impressive fashion.
Primarily a right fielder, Deer averaged 27 home runs a season as a Brewer—but he also averaged 165 strikeouts a season, a statistic that he led the National League in both 1987 and 1988.
Minnesota Twins: Dan Gladden
Years Spent in Minnesota: 1987-1991, (five seasons)
Stats With the Twins: .268/.318/.382, 38 HR, 238 RBI, 116 SB
One of only six Twins to be a part of both their 1987 and 1991 World Series championship teams, Dan Gladden was a blue-collar left fielder who impressed fans with his heart and hustle.
He was an important part of both Twins championships, leading the team with seven RBI in their 1987 battle against the St. Louis Cardinals.
But it was one play in Game 7 the 1991 World Series, which many consider to be the greatest World Series of all time, that really stands out.
The first batter Braves reliever Alejandro Pena would face in the top of the 10th inning of a scoreless game, Gladden hit a bloop fly ball to the gap between center field and left field.
Gladden never stopped running once the ball left his bat, and before the Braves knew what happened he was standing at second base with a leadoff double.
Chuck Knoblauch would lay down a sac bunt to advance Gladden to third, and after intentional walks to both Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek, a jubilant Gladden would score the series-winning run on pinch-hitter Gene Larkin's single.
New York Mets: Wally Backman
Years Spent in New York: 1980-1988, (nine seasons)
Stats With the Mets: .283/.353/.344, 7 HR, 165 RBI, 106 SB
Wally Backman was a fiery, hard-nosed player that blue-collar New Yorkers could relate to as he played with his heart on his sleeve.
Generally part of a platoon at second base, his best season as a Met came in 1986 when he hit .320/.376/.385 with a home run and 27 RBI. He would hit .333 for the Mets in their World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox.
New York Yankees: Scott Brosius
Years Spent in New York: 1998-2001 (four seasons)
Stats With the Yankees: .267/.331/.428, 65 HR, 282 RBI
A blue-collar player who left it all on the field each and every game, Scott Brosius cemented his place in Yankees history with three swings of the bat.
In Game 3 of the 1998 World Series, Brosius hit two home runs, the first in the top of the seventh inning off of former Yankee Sterling Hitchcock that put the Yankees on the board and cut the Padres lead to two.
The second would come one inning later, a three-run shot off of Padres closer Trevor Hoffman that gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead. For the series, Brosius hit .471/.471/.824 with two home runs and seven RBI, earning himself the World Series MVP award.
In Game 5 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Brosius came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Yankees trailing by two, one man on base and two outs. He would take Byung-Hyung Kim deep into the night, tying the game and propelling the Yankees to an extra-inning win.
Oakland A's: Mike Gallego
Years Spent in Oakland: 1985-1991, 1995 (eight seasons)
Stats With the A's: .232/.313/.312, 23 HR, 168 RBI
The starting second baseman for the Oakland A's during their run of supremacy in the late 1980's, Mike Gallego was a light-hitting, smooth fielding player that endeared himself to fans and teammates alike with his selfless play—his 17 sacrifice hits in 1990 led the league.
Gallego's best season with the A's came in 1991 when he hit .247/.343/.369 with a very un-Gallego-like 12 home runs and 49 RBI.
Philadelphia Phillies: Mickey Morandini
Years Spent in Philadelphia: 1990-1997, 2000 (parts of nine seasons)
Stats With the Phillies: .267/.334/.360, 20 HR, 254 RBI, 103 SB
Short, scrappy and not much of a threat with the bat, Mickey Morandini made a name for himself by playing solid defense at second base and simply working harder than everyone else.
Known as the "Dandy Little Glove Man", Morandini's best season with the Phillies came in 1997 when he hit .295/.371/.380 with one home run, 39 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Bill Mazeroski
Years Spent in Pittsburgh: 1956-1972 (17 seasons)
Stats With the Pirates: .260/.299/.367, 138 HR, 853 RBI
One of the most overrated players in history—so much so that one swing of the bat got him enshrined in the Hall of Fame—Bill Mazeroski will forever be a beloved figure in Pittsburgh for what he did in the 1960 World Series.
Maz stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game against the Yankees Ralph Terry and sent his second pitch over the left field wall, winning the series for the Pirates.
San Diego Padres: Tim Flannery
Years Spent in San Diego: 1979-1989 (11 seasons)
Stats With the Padres: .255/.335/.317, 9 HR, 209 RBI
A bench player for the majority of his career, it wasn't until 1983—his fifth in the majors—that Tim Flannery hit his first home run..
When he did finally get the chance to start at second base on a regular basis in 1985, Flannery responded with the best season of his career, hitting .281/.386/.341 with a home run and 40 RBI.
He decided to retire in 1989 at the age of 32, and his final game in San Diego resulted in a sellout crowd that gave Flannery an over-the-top standing ovation as he made his way to the plate for his first at bat that home plate umpire John Kibler had to halt play until the fans settled down.
San Francisco Giants: Tito Fuentes
Years Spent in San Francisco: 1965-1967, 1969-1974 (nine seasons)
Stats With the Giants: .262/.304/.345, 34 HR, 306 RBI
The last Cuban-born player to sign with a major league team before the trade embargo went into effect, Tito Fuentes quickly became a fan favorite in San Francisco largely in part to his outgoing personality and simply because he was just a genuinely nice guy who connected with the fans.
On the field, he was a light-hitting second baseman who played solid defense and was one of the best at turning the double play.
His best season as a Giant came in 1973 when he hit .277/.328/358 with six home runs and 63 RBI.
Seattle Mariners: Dan Wilson
Years Spent in Seattle: 1994-2005 (12 seasons)
Stats With the Mariners: .262/.309/.384, 88 HR, 508 RBI
An outstanding defensive catcher, Dan "The Man" Wilson spent the bulk of his career behind the plate for the Seattle Mariners.
Never a big-time hitter, Wilson's best season offensively came in 1996 when he hit .285/.330/.444 with 18 home runs, 83 RBI and was elected to his only All-Star game.
For as good of a receiver behind the plate as he was, it's amazing that Wilson never received a Gold Glove award.
St. Louis Cardinals: Jose Oquendo
Years Spent in St. Louis: 1986-1995 (10 seasons)
Stats With the Cardinals: .264/.359/.331, 13 HR, 227 RBI
Dubbed "The Secret Weapon" by Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, Jose Oquendo has spent time at every position on the field, including catcher and pitcher.
From 1989 through 1991, Oquendo was the Cardinals starting second baseman, setting a National League record for fewest errors by a second baseman in at least 150 games with three in 1990.
A light-hitting infielder, Oquendo's best season with the bat came in 1989 when he hit .291/.375/.372 with a home run and 48 RBI.
Tampa Bay Rays: Quinton McCracken
Years Spent in Tampa: 1998-2000 (three seasons)
Stats With the Rays: .277/.329/.383, 8 HR, 75 RBI
The first center fielder and batter in franchise history, Quinton McCracken's best season came in 1998 before injuries would take their toll.
During the Rays inaugural season, McCracken hit .292/.335/.410 with seven home runs, 59 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
The following season, he would tear his ACL and be limited to 55 games over the next two seasons before he and the team parted ways.
Texas Rangers: Pete Incaviglia
Years Spent in Texas: 1986-1990 (five seasons)
Stats With the Rangers: .248/.314/.459, 124 HR, 388 RBI
The 15th player in baseball history to debut in the major leagues without spending any time in the minor leagues, Pete Incaviglia endeared himself to Rangers fans with his hard-nosed style of play.
Along with his hard-nosed style of play, Incaviglia became known for his towering home runs, which often were followed up with big strikeouts—not in the scope of the game but in how hard he swung the bat, it looked as if Inky could fall over after missing a pitch at times. Twice in his Rangers career he led the league in strikeouts.
His best season in Texas was his sophomore year in 1987, when he hit .271/.332/.497 with 27 home runs and 80 RBI.
Toronto Blue Jays: Doug Ault
Years Spent in Toronto: 1977-1978, 1980 (three seasons)
Stats With the Blue Jays: .234/.309/.362, 17 HR, 86 RBI
Toronto's first baseman for their inaugural season in 1977, Doug Ault wasted little time in becoming the favorite adopted son in Toronto.
Ault would hit two home runs in Toronto's first game at Exhibition Stadium, a solo shot in the first inning and a two-run home run in the third, tying a major league record for most home runs on an Opening Day that stood until fellow Blue Jay Jorge Bell hit three to start the 1988 season. Bell's record has been matched twice since.
His 66 RBI as a rookie in 1977 was a Blue Jays record that stood until Eric Hinske's 84 RBI in 2002.
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: Spike Owen
Years Spent in Montreal: 1989-1992, (four seasons)
Stats With the Expos: .247/.338/.354, 21 HR, 142 RBI
A hard-nosed player in the field, Spike Owen was a patient hitter at the plate and a leader in the clubhouse for the Montreal Expos.
He took rookie second baseman Delino DeShields under his wing and mentored the future All-Star while playing solid defense in the middle of the infield.
His best season with the Expos came in 1992 when he hit .269/.348/.381 with seven home runs and 40 RBI.