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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Matt Stairs Project

When Matt Stairs retired from baseball in August, I posted this in recognition of his contribution to the 2008 Phillies World Series win. As I was looking up his career stats for the post, I realized that he might have the longest display of uniform numbers of any player on BaseballReference.com. All told Stairs played for 12 different teams -- 13 if want to separate the Expos franchise he debuted for from the Nationals that he finished with. According to the fine folks a BR.com, Stairs wore 19 different uniform/number combinations during his career.


Former players Mike Morgan, Ron Villone, Deacon McGuire each played for 12 different teams. Morgan's uni/number combo count finished at 17, Villone got 14, and McGuire retired in 1912, several years before a major league team even issued uniform numbers. The only active player that is even close to Stairs is Miguel Cairo, his 2011 season with the Reds put him up to 14.

I thought it might be fun to create a set of Matt Stairs cards - showing him with every major league team he played for. Rather than drive myself crazy attempting to create new templates for each year, I decided to simply go with a 1968 Topps design. Matt Stairs was born in 1968.



1992 - 1993: Montreal Expos
Stairs makes his big league debut on May 29th, 1992 with the Expos in Cincinnatti. Appropriately he enters his first game as a pinch hitter.
1995: Boston Red Sox
After spending some time in Japan, Stairs is purchased by the Red Sox. He spends all of 1994 in the minors and returns to the big leagues in June. Hits his first ML Home Run off of the Royals Tom 'Flash' Gordon on July 5th, 1995. He gets one AB in the Red Sox 1995 ALDS loss to the Indians.
1996 - 2000: Oakland A's
Signs as a Free Agent with the A's following the 1995 season. It is in Oakland that Stairs establishes himself as a real live professional hitter. It is also the first place he finds regular playing time and he produces 122 HRs & 385 RBIs over his 5 seasons wearing the green and gold.
2001: Chicago Cubs
Following the A's bitter 2001 ALDS loss to the Yankees, Stairs is traded to the Chicago Cubs for a minor league pitcher named Eric Ireland. He spends one season on Chicago's North Side, delivering 85 hits in 128 games.
2002: Milwaukee Brewers
Once again a Free Agent, Matt signs with the Brewers for the 2002 season. Nothing spectacular happened for him while suffering through 106 losses playing for a last place team.
2003: Pittsburgh Pirates
Another season, another team. Now 35 years old, Matt signs with the Pirates as a Free Agent in December 2002. He had the best batting average of his career, hitting .292 in 128 games playing as a first baseman and outfielder. He also tops the 20 HR mark for the 5th time in his career.
2004 - 2006: Kansas City Royals
Matt continues his tour of the Major Leagues when he signs as a free agent with the Royals. He practically puts down roots and stays in KC for two and a half seasons. On June 2nd, 2005 -- against the Yankees he leads off the bottom of the sixth inning and sends a Carl Pavano pitch deep into the night for his 200th career HR.
2006: Texas Rangers
In July of the 2006 season, for the first time in his career, Matt Stairs joins a new team in the middle of the season. The Royals made a deadline deal with Texas, who had hoped Stairs could provide some veteran leadership on their young club. He just played in 26 games and hit only .210 before getting waived in September.
2006: Detroit Tigers
Claimed off the waiver wire by Detroit, Stairs joins his 3rd team of the 2006 season. The Tigers grabbed him in hopes he could help them hold their division lead. He appears in 14 games and the Tigers lost their division lead on the final day of the season, but still clinched the Wild Card. Since he was acquired after August 31st deadline, he was unable to play for the Tigers during the playoffs or World Series.
2007 - 2008: Toronto Blue Jays
After the 2006 season, the 39 year old Stairs once again found himself on the market as a free agent. In December he signed with the Blue Jays, returning to his native Canada. During the season and a half he spent in Toronto he found regular playing time, delivering 21 HRs in 2007 with an impressive .921 OPS. Following his strong 2007 season the Jays gave him a 2 year deal, but it didn't work out as he was released in August.
2008 - 2009: Philadelphia Phillies
Looking to add depth to their bench, the Phillies picked up the suddenly available Stairs in late August of 2008. He appeared in 16 games as the Phils won the NL East. Playing in his first playoffs since 2001, Stairs created a lasting memory with his first career postseason home run in Game 4 of the NLCS. His monster blast allowed the Phillies to take the lead over the Dodgers and win the game. That season he won the only World Series ring of his 16-year career. He returned in 2009 as a hero. On April 12th he hit a game-winning home run against the Rockies. It was the last home run called by Harry Kalas.
2010: San Diego Padres
In January, Stairs agreed to a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres with an invite to spring training hoping to crack their 25-man roster. He made the club out of spring training as a left-handed bat off the bench. On August 21st, Stairs hit his 21st career home run as a pinch hitter, breaking a tie with Cliff Johnson and setting a new Major League record.
2011: Washington Nationals
In December, Stairs signed a non-guaranteed minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. He made the club in spring training and went north with the team. Mostly used as a pinch-hitter, with four appearances at first base, in 65 at-bats he had 10 hits and two RBIs. He was designated for assignment on July 27, 2011 and released on August 1st. Two days later he announced his retirement.

2 comments:

Johngy said...

Totally awesome post. Because I love oddities like this, I also know that Bobo Newsom had 20 such uniform/number combinations.
I think Stairs is officially counted as the record holder for most teams, as the Nats are counted as a different team (not franchise) from the Expos. Stairs also is tied with Todd Zeile for homers with the most teams (11). Oddly, Stairs did not hit any with either the Expos or the Nats.

Uncle John's Band said...

Very cool.

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