The 1988 Project Day 27 – Craig Worthington

1988 Donruss The Rookies

As an Orioles fan in the early 90s, Craig Worthington was frustrating as hell. We had been told this kid was a top prospect, and would deliver the goods, but as far as I could see, Leo Gomez was far and away a better hitter. This is my chance to go back and try to understand Craig. As it turns out, Craig was not quite as bad as I thought, but still pretty damned brutal. And he had a cast-iron skillet for a glove. Not only was my recollection of this correct, the numbers bear it out. Worthing started at A-level Bluefield in 1985,with an impressive .341/.394/.589 line. Look at that power! He did well in high-A Hagerstown in 86, then ran into some troubles at AAA in 87, hitting .258/.317/.355. I guess you could expect that when someone skips AA. I…wait…did the Orioles rush him? I believe they did. He made his major league debut on April 26, 1988 against the Twins and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He hung around the club until May, when he got back sent down to AAA, and didn’t return until September. While he was down in AAA, he hit .244/.303/.419. Definitely looks like he was rushed to AAA, let alone the majors.

1988 Fleer Update

Worthington stuck in Baltimore in 1989, hitting .247/.334/.384 with 15 HR. Unfortunately, his fielding cost him 11 (!) points, and he ended up at a 1.9 WAR. Still pretty damn respectable for a 24-year old rookie and good for a 106 OPS+. He was better than I remembered, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, 1990 would not be so smooth. He only mustered a .226/.328/.322, 8 HR, 0.8 WAR line with a wretched .301 wOBA (weighted on-base average, see here for more information) as pitchers began to figure him out. 1991 saw the emergence of Leo Gomez and his 2.4 WAR (wow he was nowhere near as good as I thought), and Worthington spent most of his time on the pine. In the offseason, the O’s dealt him and Tom Martin to the Padres for Steve Martin and Jim Lewis. I recognize Lewis and Steve Martin from the deal; they were both washed-up prospects at this point. He was released out of Spring Training and picked up by the Indians. He played only nine games with the Indians. He played out the thread of his career with the Reds and the Rangers, never really making a dent with either. In fact, after 1991, he played in only 58 major league games before leaving the majors for good in 1996.

Here are shots of Worthington as a Red and a Ranger. Can’t believe I found these.

I don’t like either of these cards, honestly. If I had to choose, I’d go with the Donruss, because Craig looks like a smug asshole in the Fleer card. Ah, well. So long, Craig. We hardly knew ye.

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