There is one stat that I have always loved, and I put way too much stock into: on-base percentage.
Even now, with all the advanced stats we have, its the first thing that I look. For me, it started when I was in high school and trying to build line-ups in my baseball video games. My logic was that everyone on my team had a high OBP–even if they lacked power, speed or a decent glove–that runs would naturally come. And its a great plan in a video game. Real life? Not so much.
Jack Cust was always a favorite of mine because of his amazing on-base skills. I always thought it was a shame that he did not get a better crack with an American League team earlier then he did.
- Cust was a well thought of prospect, getting drafted in the 1st round of the 1997 draft by the Diamondbacks.
- He would rank four times on organizational Top 30 lists. Twice with Arizona (#5 in 1998, #2 in 2000) and Colorado (#6 in 2001 and #21 in 2002).
- Cust could hit with power and had some of the best plate discipline in all of baseball. His bat was compared to Jim Thome, Geoff Jenkins and Jeromy Burnitz. High praise.
- The problem was that his glove wasnot great. The kind of not great that made it almost impossible for any National League team to keep him on the major league roster.
- Arizona tried moving him from first base to the outfield. It did not help.
- Billy Beane, the A’s GM, was digging on Cust as far back as 2001. He valued his bat enough to overlook the glove. Unfortunately, Beane could not swing a deal to get him from Arizona and he would eventually get moved to Colorado.
- It would not be until 2007 that Beane would finally acquire Cust, buying him from the Padres.
- And it would be in 2007, 10 years after being drafted, that he would finally get a full-time job in the majors. He hit pretty much exactly like everyone thought that he would.
- From 2007 to 2010 Cust hit .247/.381/.457 with 97 HR. He had a OPS+ of 126 and averaged 24 HR a season. Not bad.
- He would leave Oakland in 2011, joining the Mariners. The 2011 season would be the 32-year old Cust’s last season in the big league. He would hit .213/.344/.329 with 3 HR.
- Cust would retire after the 2012 season. For his career, he would amass 9.3 WAR, 105 HR and a 120 OPS+. His career OBP was .374.
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