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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Your Random Third Baseman of the Day: Wade Rowdon

Name: Wade Lee Rowdon
Ht: 6'2'' Wt: 180
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Years as a Cub: 1987

That unforgettable Wade Rowdon Swing.

Do you remember the Wade Rowdwon era? You don't? I don't see how you could forget his epic 11 game, 31 at-bat tenure with the Cubs on that 1987 team that made all Cub fans dare to dream...of a 76-85 finish. Teams that only play 161 games amuse me. That means that at some point in the season, you had a game that was postponed. Not only were you so far out that the game had no playoff implications for you, but you were apparently also playing a team that had no postseason implications. Meaning your team was bad enough to have as minimal an effect on the postseason picture as possible. Now who had the most minimal effect on that team? Wade Rowdon.

Wade Rowdon represents the bulk of the 83 guys (I finally counted them) who started at third for the Cubs between Santo and Ramirez. They were neither big ticket free agents who bombed, or star rookies who failed. They were just untalented, mediocre, cheap baseball players who the Cubs propped up there due to a lack of will to win. Some of them were cheap rookies, some of them were aging veteran castoffs, and many, like Wade, were no name players acquired in non-impact trades that no one will ever really note again. Wade Rowdon for Guy Hoffman wasn't exactly a block buster. It had less than marginal effects on either team, and it was quickly forgotten.

But enough of my waxing philosophical on the nature of the third base conundrum, back to the actual man himself. During his 11 game stint with the Cubs in September of '87, Rowdon started 7 games at third, Rowdon hit just .226/1 hr/4 RBI/.294 OBP/.419 slugging in that stint, but what was really notable was his defense. Or lack thereof. Rowdon contributed to the black hole of defense that was the Cubs hot corner that season. Primary starter Keith Moreland made 28 errors in 149 games started and posted a .934 fielding percentage. Backup Manny Trillo made 2 errors in just 5 games started and posted an even worse .926 fielding percentage. But Rowdon topped them all with 4 errors in just 7 games started with an .818 fielding percentage. Combined thats a .929 fielding percentage and 34 errors. All three also posted range factors that were below league average. Rookie groundball pitcher Greg Maddux went 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA that year. I'm willing to be every time a batter pulled one his pitches toward the third baseline Maddux swore and went to block the ball from getting into the dugout.

After the 1987 season the Cubs traded Rowdon to the Baltimore Orioles, who went 54-107 the next year after starting the season 0-21. Rowdon appeared in 9 of those 21 losses. Coincidence? I think not. He was sent down after April and spent most of the season in the minors before being released at the end of the year.

I couldn't find what Rowdon is doing now, though I've heard he's a minister. He apparently hosted a Christian baseball camp in Moldova though.

Wade Rowdon: So bad we sent him to Moldova.

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