Monday, October 03, 2011

#16 Astros Rookie Stars: Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson

#16 Astros Rookies: Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson
Back again! I've knocked another of the remaining big-ticket items off of the want list thanks to Ed's bargain hunting skills. This lightly used Joe Morgan rookie set me back one cool sawbuck. Not too shabby.

Fun facts about Joe Morgan:

-Joe was born in Bonham, TX. He was 19 when he signed with Houston in 1962.

-After cups of coffee with the Colt .45s in 1963 and 1964, he became the team's starting second baseman and finished second to the Dodgers' Jim Lefebvre in 1965 Rookie of the Year voting. Morgan showed a glimpse of his valuable skill set, leading the Astros with 100 runs scored, 12 triples, 97 walks (also tops in the N.L.), and a .373 on-base percentage. He batted .271 with 14 homers and 20 steals.

-Though he made the All-Star team in 1966 and again in 1970, Joe didn't truly flourish until he was dealt to the Reds in November 1971. He was the prime attraction for Cincinnati in an eight-player deal that sent slugger Lee May to Houston.

-Morgan was an All-Star in each of his first eight seasons with the Reds. In that span, he captured four on-base titles (peaking at .466 in 1975) and twice led the league in OPS and OPS+, with marks of 1.020 and 186 in 1976 as his career highs.

-As the ignitor of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine", Joe won back-to-back league MVP awards in 1975 and 1976. The latter was his best overall year, as he hit a personal-best 27 homers with 111 RBI. He also stole 60 bases (his fifth straight year of at least 58 SB) and led the N.L. with a .444 on-base percentage, .576 slugging, and the aforementioned OPS and adjusted OPS+. He put up a slash line of .333/.412/.733 in the four-game World Series sweep of the Yankees, hitting a home run off of Doyle Alexander in the opener.

-He was also considered a deft second baseman, reigining as the National League Gold Glover at the keystone from 1973 through 1977.

-Morgan played for five teams in the final six seasons of his career, going from the Reds back to the Astros and then to the Giants, Phillies, and Athletics. He played regularly through age 40, and his lowest on-base percentage in a full season was .347 in 1978. In his 1984 swan song, he still reached base at a .356 clip.

-Joe retired with a .271/.392/.427 batting line and a 132 OPS+ for his career. He totaled 449 doubles and 268 home runs, drove in 1,133 runs, and stole 689 bases. He is still ranked eleventh all-time in steals, and is the top home run hitter among Hall of Fame second basemen. He reached Cooperstown on his first ballot in 1990, and the Reds retired his number 8 in 1987.

-He has spent the last quarter-century broadcasting televised games for the Reds, Athletics, and Giants, as well as nationally for ABC, NBC, and most notably ESPN, where he and Jon Miller comprised the Sunday Night Baseball crew from 1990 through 2010. He has often been the target of criticism for his strident and misinformed opposition to advanced statistical analysis.

-Morgan is currently working in an advisory role with the Reds, and hosts a syndicated sports talk radio show on Sports USA.

Fun facts about Sonny Jackson:

-A Washington, DC native, Sonny signed with Houston as a teenager in 1963.

-After getting brief trials with the inexperienced Colts and Astros clubs of 1963-1965, he started at shortstop for the club in 1966. He batted .292 with 80 runs scored and a rookie-record 49 stolen bases, and finished second to Tommy Helms of the Reds in Rookie of the Year voting.

-Jackson's numbers plunged in his sophomore season (including a 106-point dip in OPS), and he found himself traded to Atlanta in the ensuing offseason.

-Sonny spent seven injury-riddled seasons with the Braves, topping out at .259/.347/.320 in 1970.

-He hung on in the minors from 1974 through 1976 before finally calling it a career.

-In parts of 12 big league seasons, Sonny batted .251 with 7 home runs and 162 RBI.

-Four of his seven career homers were of the inside-the-park variety, and all four of those were hit in the Astrodome.

-Fun with matchups! Sonny hit .400/.447/.571 in 39 career plate appearances vs. Milt Pappas, including one of those inside-the-park homers. However, he had a slash line of .145/.169/.188 in 74 meetings with Juan Marichal.

-He has been a coach and instructor in both the majors and minors since his retirement, working for the Braves, Giants, and Cubs.
#16 Astros Rookies: Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson (back)

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