Norris Hopper – 2009 Upper Deck

February 12, 2011

Not Part Of The Old Money Elite, I Would Gather

I hate to paint with a broad brush, but I will as long as it serves my writing purposes.

If you said someone from North Carolina was named Norris Hopper, I’d say he was a Dukie that is either an attorney or an investment banker with a mansion and a yacht.

I would not have said African-American baseball player from Shelby.

But that’s what I get for painting with a broad brush.

How about this, if a player hits .359 in a cup of coffee, then .329 as a rookie center fielder, you’d expect him to be groomed as a star.

Well, that’s not what happened either.

If Upper Deck didn’t need players to fill it’s gargantuan set in 2009, then Hopper would not have received this card. See, Hopper received just 50 at bats in 2008, none after June 30. He started as a scrub, was sent down, called up, then sent down again. He was taken off the 40-man, signed as a six-year free agent in 2009, traded to the Nats organization for the immortal Corky Miller, then sold to the White Sox. In 2010, he played for the Brewers AAA farm team.

So why did a rookie hitting .300 get the slow boat to Louisville?

1. Corey Patterson. Dusty’s man-crush on Patterson took Hopper’s at bats away. Hopper wasn’t a Dusty player – he was a Narron / Mackanin player.

2. Jay Bruce. He needed PT and could spell Griffey quite a bit.

3. Ken Griffey, Jr. At 38 he was semi-productive, and you weren’t going to sit Ken Griffey, Jr. to get Norris Hopper more PT.

4. Guys like Freel, Hairston and Jolbert Cabrera. Dusty likes his vets over 30. But wait, Hopper was 29.

5. Hopper was 29. He was an ‘old’ rookie. Before he was first called up by the Reds he logged almost  1000 minor league games for the Royals and Reds. He didn’t look like a prospect, really. He could run but had no power and not a great SB%, and his patience at the plate wasn’t the best.

6. Even though Hopper hit over .300 in 2007, he still had an OPS+ of under 100. His OBP was .371, which looks good until you see he walked just 20 times in 335 PAs. But the worst thing was that he was a slappy – 14 doubles, two triples and no homers. His SLG was just .388.

7. In the winter of 2007, he was sent home from his Mexican Pacific League club by Mario Mendoza. I don’t know if he had any issues in the winter of 2008, but Dusty doesn’t like disgruntled discontent.

So that’s how a .300 hitting rookie becomes just another AAAA player in two short years.



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