Steve Jeltz – 1989 Topps

October 9, 2010

A batting helmet? Really?


A batting helmet? While taking infield? Really?

Oh, that must be because if the NL ever mandated the DH, you’d have been DH’d for instead of the pitcher. Is that it?

Mr. Jeltz was a throwback shortstop. The position had gotten a bit more ‘offensive’ in the 1980’s, but Jeltz was definitely in the Roger Metzger / Enzo Hernandez line. The Phils, who moved from Bowa to DeJesus to Jeltz, didn’t get the memo that shortstops could actually hit as well as field.

Steve could take a walk. And…that was it. He wasn’t that great of a defender, he couldn’t hit for average and had NO power or speed. But yet, he was more or less the regular short stop for four years.

(Well, he was born in France, and he was a Jayhawk, so that’s…something positive. He also had a rad set of jheri curls. OK, back to the show…)

He had back to back WAR’s in negative numbers in 1987 and 1988. In 1988, he had -23 RAR and -11 fielding runs. Yikes!

The Phillies finished 65-96 that season. No, really! Hard to imagine when 450 at bats went into a sink hole.

Well, Jeltz did have a laugh on us in 1989. He actually hit over .240. He had an OPS+ of 101.  He actually hit more than one home run. In fact, he hit TWO home runs in the same game, leading the Phillies back from a 10-run deficit. What’s more, he hit those dingers from opposite sides of the plate.

Don’t believe me. It’s true!

A game like that is why I love baseball.

The next year, after such a heady year and a heady performance, Jeltz was moved to Kansas City for Jose DeJesus, an actual, bona fide pitching prospect (who had two pretty decent years before turning his arm into jello).

The Royals, runners up in 1989, were hoping Jeltz could help them off the bench. What they got were:

OPS+ of 12

SLG of .194

OPS of .394 (really hard to do unless you try)

And that…was it. Thankfully.

Jeltz’ similar players by age: Craig Robinson, Fred Stanley, Raffy Belliard, Mario Mendoza and Hector Torres.

Do I need to say more.



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