November 29 – Happy Birthday Mike Easler

I faintly remember being confused about the trade. Just before Opening Day of the 1986 baseball season, the Yankees and Red Sox exchanged DH’s. New York sent Don Baylor to Boston for Mike Easler. Later on, I learned that Baylor had demanded to be traded because Lou Piniella, the Yankee Skipper at the time had announced he intended to platoon him with Ken Griffey during the ’86 season. As is the case still today, trades between the arch-rival franchises were not frequent occurrences. In fact the Easler for Baylor deal was the first trade between the two teams since New York got Sparky Lyle from Boston in exchange for Danny Cater fourteen seasons earlier. I could only hope that this deal would end up being as one-sided in favor of the Yankees as that one was. it wasn’t.

In 1984, Easler had belted 27 home runs for Boston, driven in 91 and averaged .313. Even though all those numbers decreased the following year, there was a lot to like about Easler in pinstripes. He was a bonafide three-hundred hitter who’s nickname was “Hit Man.” He was a left-handed hitter with good pop in his bat which I hoped meant perhaps 25-to-30 home runs per season aided by Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch. Easler would be joining a Yankee lineup that included superstars Don Mattingly, Ricky Henderson and Dave Winfield. There would be lots of protection surrounding him in the batting order which also meant less pressure to produce in every at bat. I fully expected that Yankee team to win their Division.

They came close, winning 90 games but Boston, with plenty of help from Baylor (31 HRs and 94 RBIs) won 95 and ended up in the World Series. Easler did hit .302 for New York but he managed just 14 home runs and 78 RBIs. But offense was not the problem for the 1986 Yankees. Instead, starting pitching was their achilles heel. It was a case of Ron Guidry and Joe Niekro being too old and Doug Drabek and Bob Tewksbury not being old enough. The Yankees traded Easler to the Phillies for pitcher Charles Hudson that December and then got him back in another trade the following June. He played his final 65 big league games in Pinstripes during that 1987 season and then gave Japanese ball a try. During his 14 season career in the Majors, Easler hit .293.

The Hit Man shares his November 29th birthday with this former Yankee outfielder , the greatest Closer who ever played the game and this one-time Yankee phee-nom.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1986 NYY 146 546 490 64 148 26 2 14 78 3 49 87 .302 .362 .449 .811
1987 NYY 65 184 167 13 47 6 0 4 21 1 14 32 .281 .337 .389 .726
14 Yrs 1151 4061 3677 465 1078 189 25 118 522 20 321 696 .293 .349 .454 .804
PIT (6 yrs) 549 1829 1660 216 501 92 13 56 244 14 137 273 .302 .354 .474 .828
HOU (3 yrs) 26 29 27 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 10 .037 .103 .037 .140
NYY (2 yrs) 211 730 657 77 195 32 2 18 99 4 63 119 .297 .356 .434 .790
BOS (2 yrs) 311 1297 1169 158 337 60 9 43 165 1 111 263 .288 .351 .465 .816
CAL (1 yr) 21 59 54 6 13 1 1 0 4 1 2 11 .241 .259 .296 .555
PHI (1 yr) 33 117 110 7 31 4 0 1 10 0 6 20 .282 .316 .345 .662
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2013.

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