Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday 5: Top 5 Durham Bulls Third Basemen

5.  Evan Longoria 

Longoria gets the nod onto my top 5 Durham Bulls third basemen list based on his impact at the next level.  Longo for 31 games in 2007 and 7 games in 2008.  He also made an appearance in Durham in 2012 for an injury rehab assignment.  All totaled Longoria has only played 48 games in Triple A and has 197 plate appearances.  His line is a lackluster .245/.381/.390 with 5 home runs, 8 doubles, and 23 RBIs.  His original appearance in 2007, .269/.398/.490, was weighed down by the two smaller appearances.  Despite the lack of numbers, there can be no doubt that Longoria has been the face of the Rays franchise during the past 7 years and should end up leading the franchise in almost every offensive category before his career is finished in Tampa.  Longo is already the franchise's all-time leader in oWAR, dWAR, slugging, home runs, and RBIs.  Many of the other counting number statistics are just a matter of time.  Although Carl Crawford's 409 steals look pretty safe.

4.  Wes Helms 

Helms also had a brief stay in Durham, but had a little bit more of an impact playing for the Bulls.  The Gastonia, North Carolina native played 67 games for the Carolina League affiliate in the summer of 1996 and posted a .322/.367/.562 line with 13 home runs, 19 doubles, and 54 RBIs.  Pretty impressive offensive numbers for just 278 plate appearances.  The success in Durham propelled Helms status from a solid prospect to a Baseball America Top 100 Prospect entering the 1997 season.  The numbers were not quite as good for the third baseman through Double and Triple A, but Helms did end up enjoying a solid 13 year Major League career spent mainly with the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins.

3.  Steve Demeter 

The only International League Hall of Famer on my list of great Durham Bulls third basemen is right here.  Demeter was a Durham Bulls player, in the Tigers farm system during the summer of 1954.  That summer the Bulls third baseman hit .307/.333/.545 with 23 home runs, 111 RBIs, 48 doubles, and 7 triples.  Easily one of the best individual efforts turned in by a third baseman in Bulls history.  However, the Tigers decided to use the great numbers posted by Demeter in the minors to help them land Cleveland Indians slugger Norm Cash.  Demeter spent most of his career in the Minors, but did appear in the Majors for four games.  Meanwhile, Cash went on the win a batting crown and hit 377 home runs in his career.  One of the more one-sided trades in baseball history, but Demeter had a great minor league career, hitting 272 home runs, primarily with the Rochester Red Wings and later as a coach in the Pittsburgh Pirates managing both the Charleston Charlies and the Buffalo Bisons.  He is also the grandfather of Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich.

2.  Aubrey Huff 

Huff played for the Durham Bulls during the 2000, 2001, and 2002 seasons.  The majority of his time spent in Durham occurred during the 200 season when he posted a .316/.394/.566 line with 20 home runs, 36 doubles, and 76 RBIs in just 108 games.  His later trips to Durham were not only a small number of games, but Huff spent a fair amount of time playing first base during those appearances.  Similar to Helms, Huff's excellent 2000 season posted his status with the Baseball America rankings moving from 98th before 2000 all the way up to 43rd before the 2001 season.  Huff Daddy went on to enjoy a 13 year Major League career with the Rays, Astros, Orioles, Tigers, and Giants.  His stop with the Giants netted him two World Series rings, winning one in each 2010 and 2012.  Aubrey Huff ended his career with 242 home runs, 360 doubles, 1699 hits, and 904 RBIs.

1.  Scott McClain 

Scott McClain was a great Minor League third baseman in the late 90s into the 2000s before his career ended with the Fresno Giants in 2009.  I am giving McClain the top spot on my list because he had two great years for the Durham Bulls.  McClain set the Durham Bulls Triple A career home run record which he owned until 1999 when Chris Richard passed him by at 63.   His best year as a Bull took place in 1998 when he hit 34 home runs, 35 doubles, 109 RBIs with a .299/.385/.589 line.  Those are excellent numbers most years and would at least get you in the conversation for the MVP.  McClain actually ended up finishing in the International League that season in OPS.  Reds farm hand Roberto Petagine ended up taking home the award that season.  In 1999 McClain's numbers slide down to .251/.341/.475 with 28 home runs, 33 doubles, and 104 RBIs.  While he did not duplicate his 1998 season, those numbers are still really good and separate him out from the other players on my list of Top 5 Durham Bulls Third Basemen.

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