Sunday, December 7, 2014

Random Ex-Brave: Mark DeRosa

Well, this one ought to help my female demographics.

A former quarterback at the Pennsylvania University, Mark DeRosa made the most of a limited skill set to earn almost $30M over his playing career in the major leagues. Unfortunately, his best years came after he washed out in Atlanta, but DeRo made his mark on the Braves with his hard-nosed style and plus, the ladies thought he was quite the looker.

Picked in the seventh round of 1996, DeRo was one of three players from that draft that played any sort of significant role for the Braves. Jason Marquis was a supplimental first rounder while Marcus Giles was chosen in the 53rd round. DeRo would climb faster than those two players and was considered a smart player with fringe ability who might, if everything goes right, not embarrass you in the majors. Never a prospect, DeRo had the kind of numbers that were the opposite of eye-catching.

Still, it took him just over two seasons to make it to the majors for a cup of coffee in September of 1998. He played an inning at shortstop here-and-there, but only came to the plate three times. Still, he was able to get his first major league hit on a Sunday afternoon in Arizona during the 157th game of the season. Pinch-hitting for future manager Ozzie Guillen in the ninth with the Braves already up 7-0, DeRo blooped a single the other way with a 1-2 count. He would score Atlanta's eighth run of the game later in the inning.

1999 and 2000 also gave DeRo cameos in the majors, but it wasn't until 2001 that things finally opened up for DeRosa in the majors. While he only played in 138 games for the Braves between '01-02, DeRo was highly productive, slashing .293/.344/.412 over slightly more than 400 PA. The middle infielder added super utility player to his resume and would play all four infield slots along with left field. He also showed pretty good pop at times, memorably making up for a failed bunt attempt with a two-run homer in the tenth inning during a game in Houston during the 2003 campaign.

DeRo continued to get more and more playing time and after Vinny Castilla left following the 2003 season, third base was handed to DeRo to open the following season. The opportunity he had worked tirelessly for throughout his career was available. All he had to do was produce.

Yeah, about that...

Despite getting off to a decent start with the bat, DeRo was already giving his team concerns. Supposedly sure-handed, the former Penn QB's defense became an issue, culminating in a woeful day in Denver on May 2nd. Despite nice weather, especially for Denver in early May, DeRo couldn't handle anything hit his way. He was charged with four errors and that was before the fourth inning had been completed. He was mercifully taken out back and shot removed from the game in the seventh. His confidence appeared shot and when left fielder Chipper Jones returned from the Disabled List in mid June, he was shifted to his more natural third and DeRo was demoted back to utility player. He hit .282 the rest of the way, a credit to his professionalism.

The Braves let DeRo leave after 2004 and he landed in Texas. Injuries limited him in his first year in Arlington, but in his second season, DeRo posted an .812 OPS in nearly 600 PA. He received starts at six different defensive positions for the Rangers. The season catapulted him into free agency, where he earned considerable sums while playing for the Cubs, Indians, and Cardinals. San Francisco brought him aboard in 2010 for an average salary of $6M, but injuries limited him to about 200 PA in two years. Health continued to be an issue in subsequent stops with Washington and Toronto before DeRo retired following 2013.

Since hanging up his cleats, DeRo has contributed to MLB Network as an analyst. He's fairly generic and champions the cliches, but he's not Harold Reynolds, which makes him preferable to the idiots usually labeled as experts by the increasingly disappointing MLB Network. While his best years would come after Atlanta, he spent the majority of his career with the Braves and continued to be a fan favorite even when he wore the ugly colors of the Cardinals and Nationals, a feat that is incredibly difficult to achieve.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh....I miss DeRo. Always hoped he'd come full circle back to Atlanta. I still feel sad thinking about the last time we saw him on the field as a Brave--crippled over after hurting his knee trying to make a play as a shortstop.