Closing in on the finish line with Phase 1 of the 1988 Project. After this post, just one more to go…
Looking at Kurt Stillwell’s stats, the first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that he had no power EVEN IN DENVER. The fact that he got a shot at the majors is a testament to scouting, because outside of a .324/.418/.396 rookie league campaign, he didn’t exactly bowl anyone over with the bat. I seem to remember him being hailed as a good defensive player, but his stats certainly didn’t bear that out, either. Hm. Anyway, he made his debut with the Reds in 1986, putting up a .229/.309/.258 line in 104 games. Apparently Dave Concepcion, still the Reds shortstop at the time, wasn’t interested in backing Stillwell up, feeling that even at 37 he was a starter, and should be getting the nod over the 20-year-old. Hell, Concepcion was right. He put up a OPS+ that was 20 points higher than Stillwell’s, and yet he still split time with Stillwell. Stillwell got more playing time in 87 and bumped his OPS+ up from 56 to 80, though his WAR hovered at -0.6. On November 6th, 1987, the Reds traded him with Ted Power to the Kansas City Royals for Danny Jackson and Angel Salazar.
Stillwell’s first year with the Royals was a massive improvement. He bumped up his OBP, his SLG, and his fielding, and, more importantly, gained some fame around the league, as this was when I started hearing more about him. He was seen as something of a budding superstar at the time, that’s for sure, second only to Kevin Seitzer when it came to talented young Royals. Also, apparently, Stillwell had some words for Pete Rose after he left the Reds, saying that he felt his role with the team was never completely clear. Rose fired back, saying that he had to babysit Stillwell and that Stillwell should have known he was going to be a backup to Barry Larkin once Larkin returned from an injury. He went on to trash him some more after that, as well. But in Kansas City, there was no doubt: the shortstop job was Stillwell’s to lose, and he shone, at least in 1988.
He regressed a little in 1989; his batting average rose, as did his OBP, but his SLG fell by quite a bit. His OPS+ dropped from 101 to 99, still pretty damn good for a shortstop in those days. 1990 saw a little more regression, with every one of his slash stats dropping significantly. He was also felled by a kidney stone around the 1st of July and missed a few games. He stayed with KC until the end of 1991, his production slowly falling each year until new manager Hal McRae benched him when he joined the team.
He declared free agency and, after flirting with the Cubs, signed with the Padres, with whom he performed terribly in 1992 (.227/.274/.298, -1.7 WAR) after moving to 2B. The Padres had him split time between SS, 3B, and 2B in 1993, and he managed a limp -1.0 WAR. He then disappeared from the majors in 1994 and 1995, playing at AAA Indianapolis for the Reds, where he hit fairly well. He signed on with the Rangers in 1996 and got a little more playing time, but his ML career was pretty much cooked. What the hell happened? I guess that the scouting wasn’t quite accurate, and the numbers were. Hmmm. Does anyone know anything else about his career that I may have missed?
My favorite of this set is definitely the Score. Check out that sweet blue uniform! That’s just awesome, and I think it works well with the orange border, oddly enough.
Okay, so we’re almost there. Only one player left, and he was a member of the White Sox…
- Day 1- Mark Grace (Cubs)
- Day 2- Al Leiter (Yankees)
- Day 3- Chris Sabo (Reds)
- Day 4- Walt Weiss (Athletics)
- Day 5- Baseballs’ Best Catch-Up
- Day 6- Craig Biggio (Astros)
- Day 7-Roberto Alomar (Padres)
- Day 8-Kirk Gibson (Dodgers)
- Day 9-Jay Buhner (Yankees/Mariners)
- Day 10-Jose Rijo (Reds)
- Day 11-Brady Anderson & Mike Boddicker (Red Sox/Orioles)
- Day 12-Pete Smith & Kevin Coffman (Braves)
- Day 13-David Wells (Blue Jays)
- Day 14-Shawn Abner (Padres)
- Day 15 – Tom Brunansky (Cardinals)
- Day 16 – Bryan Harvey (Angels)
- Day 17 – Joey Meyer (Brewers)
- Day 18 – John Dopson (Expos)
- Day 19 – Brett Butler (Giants)
- Day 20 – Randy Milligan and Tommy Gregg (Pirates)
- Day 21 – Mackey Sasser (Mets)
- Day 22 – Cecil Espy (Rangers)
- Day 23 – Willie Upshaw (Indians)
- Day 24 – Ricky Jordan (Phillies)
- Day 25 – Ray Knight (Tigers)
- Day 26 – Henry Cotto (Mariners)
- Day 27 – Craig Worthington (Orioles)
- Day 28 – Tommy Herr (Twins)
- Day 29 – Kurt Stillwell (Royals)