Eddie Williams – 1988 Donruss
March 2, 2011
Endeavor To Persevere
Eddie Williams had many chances to call it quits.
He was the 4th pick of the 1983 draft, but was traded to the Reds in mid-1984 (during a .184 season in the Sally League) with Jay Tibbs for Bruce Berenyi. In 1985 he hit 20 dingers for Cedar Rapids, but was left unproteced in the Rule V draft and was picked up by the Indians.
I don’t get why he was eligible for the Rule V draft unless they have a codicil (or did) that players who are traded during their exemption period are no longer exempt. But he was with the Indians for a little bit before they sent him down to Waterbury (with the good graces of the Reds, for sure).
The 1987 season was good for Williams. He hit .291 with 22 homers in AAA Buffalo at age 22, and got a cup of coffee and a danish with the Indians. There were some issues – Williams was a third baseman and struggled on defense. OK, not struggled. He was pretty much of an iron glove in the minors. Plus, the Indians had Brook Jacoby at third.
Yet Jacoby wasn’t all that and a bucket of chicken, yet he was the incumbent and supposedly young. At any rate, after another season in AAA with another brief encounter with the Indians, Williams was sent to the White Sox for failed prospects Joel Davis and Ed Wojna.
So it’s 1989, and Williams is already on his fourth organization and is just 24. He got some legit playing time in Chicago, hitting .274 with an OPS+ of 101. The issue was his glove, again. Or the perception of it. He made quite a few errors and had a .909 fielding percentage, but was basically neutral in his DWAR. So he wasn’t THAT bad.
The White Sox, though, didn’t think he was that good, so they dropped him off the roster and the Padres signed him. He had a good season in Las Vegas and hit well in a brief stop in San Diego. And it wasn’t like the Padres were running out of their ears with third basemen. But he didn”t stick around there, either, and signed with Fukuoka for 1991.
After a year in Japan, it was back to the states. The Braves signed him but released him after a month in AAA. He was out of baseball for most of 1992, then the Brewers picked him up for 1993. He played eight games in New Orleans and was cut again.
So, let’s recap. At age 28, he played for the Mets, Reds, Indians, White Sox, Padres, Braves, and Brewers, and also in Japan. He did OK in his one extended major league trial, but had issues with the glove. The last two years he played in April and then sat idle the rest of the year.
Endeavor to persevere!
Actually, it was a move to first base full-time that helped Williams.
It was back to the Padres in 1994. He was blasting the ball all around the PCL in Vegas (20 home runs in 59 games and a .352 average) and the Padres said, sure, why not. They were horrid. Tim Hyers and Dave Staton weren’t cutting it, so Williams came up and only had a .986 OPS (156 OPS+) in 49 games. Darn.
Obviously that hot streak couldn’t last. In 1995 he came down to earth with a thud but actually spent the entire year in the big leagues. That was the first time he did that, at age 30 no less.
Detroit signed him for 1996, and he was as bad as the Tigers (Williams OPS+ 45, Tigers 53-109). The Tigers let him go after the season, and then he drifted.
He hit .366 for Albuquerque, came up for a skosh for the Dodgers, and was sent to the Pirates to end 1997. He signed with the Padres (AGAIN!) and had another monster year in Las Vegas (Eddie loved him some PCL pitching!), played a bit in San Diego, and that was it for his major league career.
Williams was 34. He had played in 10 organizations and one year in Japan.
Heck, what’s one more! The Twins signed him for 1999 and he went to…THE PCL! He hit .316 but wasn’t called up. But he still wasn’t done. He played in the independent leagues and in the Mexican League before, finally, he called it quits during the 2002 season in Fargo-Moorhead.
He definitely did endeavor to persevere. But here’s the question.
If he knew as a rookie for the Indians what his career would be like, would he be smiling?
(Probably…he played baseball for a living for almost 20 years!)