This offseason, scrappy-mc-scrapsters like Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll and Clint Barmes have been signed to lucrative deals and one of the all-time greatest scrappers, Craig Counsell, has called it a career. Now, to cap it all off, one of the most scrapolicious players in baseball history, David Eckstein, has officially announced his retirement.
In honor of the offseason of scrap, we’ve put together a lineup of baseball’s scrappiest active players.
Catcher: Jose Molina, TB – Despite a career batting line of .241/.286/.344, Molina has managed to hold a steady major league job since 2004. He looks about as athletic as John Goodman did in “The Babe”, but compared to his brother Bengie he looks like Jonah Hill…the skinny version.
First base: Ty Wigginton, PHI – Is Wiggy the new Matt Stairs? Think about it. He looks like a guy who just got done with his construction job and has already slammed a few Budweisers before taking the field for his softball team. Yet somehow he manages, even with barely above replacement level numbers, to con a team into giving him over 400 plate appearances every year and allow him to play whatever position he wants.
Second base: Jose Altuve, HOU – Altuve is listed at 5’7” and some say that might be generous. Despite his minuscule size, Altuve has done nothing but rake at every step along his way to the big leagues. He’ll enter 2012 as the Astros’ starting second baseman and is sure to become one of those players that is impossible to root against.
Shortstop: Nick Punto, BOS – As fellow TOC editor Matt Lindner wrote in our email discussion, “Punto is now the Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson of scrapitude.” Listed at 5’9”, Punto plays like he’s at least 5’10”. He actually seems to get scrappier as the years go by, as he continues to focus on trying to find ways to get one base.
Third base: Ryan Roberts, ARI – “Tat Man” looks like he work up in an alley somewhere, finished some half-eaten McRib sandwich, slammed a Rockstar energy drink and literally crawled his way to the ballpark.
Left field: Juan Pierre, FA – Oh, sorry, I thought you said crappy, not scrappy.
Center field: Nyjer Morgan, MIL – Morgan is so scrappy that he even changes his identity from time to time. What he lacks in skills he certainly attempts to make up for with his mouth and intensity, even though both seem to get him in trouble more often than not.
Right field: Hunter Pence, PHI – I’m not sure if Pence is really a scrappy player, but he just looks like he is. Nothing he does looks smooth or athletic and in the on-deck circle he looks like he could be David Eckstein’s older (and much taller) brother.
Starting pitcher: Charlie Morton, PIT – The essence of a scrappy player is that they will do whatever it takes to survive. Motron, after years of finding no success at the big league level, decided that the easiest thing to do would be to just become Roy Halladay. Morton dropped his arm angle, added sink to all of his offerings, and scrapped his way to a career best 3.83 ERA.
Reliever: Tim Collins, KC – Listed at 5’7”, 170 pounds, if Collins were to shave his beard and pitch in the Little League World Series, no one would be asking to see a birth certificate. His fastball, however, talks like a 30-year-old veteran.