By The Numbers: Robin Ventura
These days, Ventura is a rookie manager with the Chicago White Sox – the team he broke in with in 1989 – and has his team at/near the top of the AL Central Standings. With the Southsiders headed to the Bronx to begin a four-game set on Thursday night, we present a By The Numbers chronicling the freshman skipper’s illustrious career.
10: Ventura was the 10th overall pick by the White Sox in the 1988 MLB Draft, and spent his first 10 seasons in the Majors on Chicago’s South Side.
15: After being drafted, it took Ventura just 15 months to go from Oklahoma State University star to Major Leaguer. He was selected on June 1, 1988, and after signing that October, he spent less than a year in the Minors before making his Major League debut on September 12, 1989. That day, Ventura started at third base in Chicago’s 11-1 win over the Orioles, and remained in that spot for nearly a decade.
1: The overall selection where the man who gave up Ventura’s first Major League hit was drafted. In that 9/12/89 debut, Ventura ripped an RBI single off Ben McDonald – who had been the No. 1 overall pick of the Orioles just a few months earlier – for his first career hit. In addition to being a Ventura milestone, that hit knocked McDonald out of what was just his third MLB appearance…and he was replaced by Curt Schilling, who himself was making just his seventh appearance that day.
354: The career win total of the man who gave up Ventura’s first Major League home run. That man is Roger Clemens, who yielded a solo shot to the third baseman on April 18, 1990.
15: Robin Ventura once led the American League in intentional bases on balls. In his final season with the White Sox, 1998, Ventura was walked intentionally 15 times, tops in the AL that year.
.301: Perhaps Ventura’s best season came in 1999, his first with the Mets. That year, Robin hit a career-high .301 with 32 home runs and 120 RBI (also a career high), won the last of his six Gold Gloves, and finished sixth in NL MVP voting as the Mets reached the National League Championship Series.
19: Robin Ventura wore No. 23 for the majority of his career, donning it from 1990-98 in Chicago and again in 2003 and 2004 with the Dodgers. But that of course was Don Mattingly’s number in the Bronx, so with 23 out of rotation, Ventura was assigned No. 19 when he came to the Yankees in 2002.
11: The difference in career home run total between Ventura (294) and the man the Yankees sent to the Mets to acquire him, David Justice (305).
230: Ventura played 230 games in a Yankees uniform – 141 in his lone full season of 2002 and 89 more in 2003 before being traded to the Dodgers for Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor that July.
4: Although he manned the hot corner in 217 of those 230 games, Ventura made one famous appearance at second base on July 7, 2003. Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter both left that day’s game against the Red Sox after being hit on their hands by Pedro Martinez pitches, so Ventura was forced to slide from third base to second after Jeter’s departure left the team short of infielders.
0.00: The only pitching appearance of Ventura’s career came on June 25, 2004 (in the midst of his final season), when he pitched the ninth inning in the Dodgers’ 13-0 loss to the Angels and allowed only one hit (to Darin Erstad) in a 12-pitch frame.
7: Despite a great career, Ventura received little love from the BBWAA when he gained Hall of Fame eligibility for the Class of 2010. In his first and only year on the ballot, Ventura earned just seven votes (or 1.3 percent of the 539 cast), and was dropped from future consideration. That year, 11 of the 15 first-timers (including former Ventura teammates Ellis Burks, Kevin Appier, and Todd Zeile) fell below the five-percent threshold, and only Andre Dawson was elected by BBWAA.
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