The 1988 Project Day 26 – Henry Cotto

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

I came at Henry Cotto’s career all wrong. I thought he had been a starter for his teams, but didn’t realize that he never had a full season until 1988. That means I was ready to judge him as a starting corner outfielder, and ready to savage him. What I found was…well, still not great, but given that he was a reserve outfielder, better than I would have expected. He never hit double-digit homers, but he did steal up to 27 bases, pretty damn good for a reserve outfielder. He started his career as a Cubs farmhand in 1980, where he hit .283/.328/.386 with 12 stolen bases; he would steal 52 for each of the next two years and 32 at AAA Iowa in 1983. He made the majors with the Cubs in 84, playing in 105 games as a reserve outfielder, where he hit .274/.325/.308.

1988 Fleer Update

In the 1984 offseason, the Cubs dealt him along with Porfi AltamiranoRich Bordi and Ron Hassey to the New York Yankees for Brian Dayett and Ray Fontenot. You can see that’s a whole lot of not much talent going both ways. While on the Yankees bench in 85, Cotto was cleaning his ear with a Q-tip when Ken Griffey Sr. bumped into him, driving the Q-Tip through his eardrum. Crazy stuff. He was up and down from AAA to the majors between 85 and 87, never really putting much together, but also not getting much of a chance.

1988 Score Rookie & Traded

On December 22, 1987, the Yankees dealt him and Steve Trout to the Mariners for Lee GuettermanClay Parker, and Wade Taylor. I guess the Mariners saw something useful in him, but they were a bit off, as he went .259/.302/.373 in 1988, his only full season of play. That’s an 86 OPS+ or a 1.1 WAR, the highest WAR of his career. He would stay with Seattle until 1992, giving them an overall .265/.307/.381 line with a 91 OPS+ and 97 total SB. You see where I was going here – if he was a regular starting outfielder, that’s damn horrid, but as a backup, that’s serviceable.

1988 Topps Traded

Cotto was traded once again in 1993, going with Jeff Darwin to the Marlins for Dave Magadan (interesting coincidence, Magadan is John Olerud’s uncle. Both would end up playing first for the Mariners). He finished out his time with the Marlins going .190/.213/.257. He declared free agency in the offseason and signed with the Orioles, but never made it back to the Show. These days he’s a coach in the Mariners system.

My favorite out of this set is definitely the Score Traded. The only one that’s really bad is the Topps one (and that one is BAD), but the Score one shines, especially with Cotto showing the correct form for bunting. I have to say, this was also a tough choice on who to cover. There were some more intriguing players, such as Pee Wee Briley, but I needed to have someone who had more cards available in the traded sets, and I’d never really looked into Cotto’s career, so I figured this was as good a time as any.

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