Monday, May 4, 2009

Your SKO Random Third Baseman of the Day: Tyler Houston

A few notes before I begin my recap of the Tyler Houston Experience-

1. Try not to freak out about Zambrano. Two, three starts and he'll be back.

2. BOBBY SCALES. That is all.

Name: Tyler Sam Houston
Height: 6'2'' Weight: 210 lbs.
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Years as a Cub: 1996-1999

Tyler Houston showing the kind of prodigious power that earned him a .388 slugging % as a Cub.

During the 1996 season, the Cubs third basemen- Leo Gomez, Dave Magadan, and Jose Hernandez, and their back up catchers, Mike Hubbard and Brian Dorsett, all played like garbage. The Cubs responded to this situation by trading for former first round pick C/3B Tyler Houston of the Braves, which was somehow supposed to fix that.

Houston actually played fairly well for the Cubs in 1996, appearing in 46 games (including 27 as a catcher and 9 at third), and hit .339/2/19/.382/.452, for a respectable .834 OPS. In 1997, however, Houston's offensive prowess regressed considerably, and he posted just a .260/2/28/.290/.342 line in 72 games, 12 of which came at third base. In 1998 Houston played well in the first half, splitting playing time with Scott Servais and Sandy Martinez at catcher and Jose Hernandez and Kevin Orie at third. After a .295/5/17/.323/.477 start, he hit just .234/4/16/.273/.353 to finish the season.

The 1999 season was the first year in which Houston featured prominently as a third baseman for the Cubs. The results were poor. After Gary Gaetti's miserable start exposed the stupidity of the Cubs front office re-signing a 40 year old third baseman, Cub fans were exposed to 63 games (51 starts) of Tyler at third base, during which time he rewarded the Cubs with a .233/9/27/.309/.386 line to go along with a 13 errors at the hot corner, adding up to a miserable .910 fielding % (league average at third that year- .955). The Cubs finally decided they had seen enough and shipped Houston the Cleveland Indians for Richard Negrette. Houston went on to play with the Brewers, Dodgers, and Phillies before retiring in 2003. In case you think Tyler's major league career was lacking in highlights, he had a three homer game on July 9, 2000 against the Detroit Tigers. According to his Wikipedia entry, it was the first time in Brewers history a back up catcher received a curtain call, a statistic the Brewers apparently keep.