Up through his age-28 season, Stan Javier looked like a dud of a prospect. Other than a fluke season in 1990 with the Dodgers, Javier didn’t hit for a high average, didn’t hit for power, and he didn’t take enough walks to make up for the other deficiencies. After Javier left the Dodgers, though, a couple of things happened:
- He stopped eating orphans.
- He became one of the best utility outfielders in baseball.
In his thirties, Javier was a player who could steal bases at a high success rate, put up above-average on-base percentages, switch-hit equally well against lefties and righties, and play stellar defense at all three outfield positions. He was signed by the Giants before the 1996 season, and was pretty meh, though it isn’t as if the Giants were counting on him for a whole lot.
Without Javier, the Giants don’t make it into the playoffs in 1997, and they don’t get to a one-game playoff in 1998. His above-average OBP, his versatility, and his defense helped Javier take at-bats away from Glenallen Hill, gloved sauropod. In 1998, Javier’s ability to cover centerfield allowed the Giants to trade Darryl Hamilton for Ellis Burks. The Giants weren’t sure if Marvin Bernard was an everyday centerfielder (pro tip: no), and Javier’s presence was an excellent contingency plan.
Javier was one of the more likable players on the roster, too. And he is also the owner of baseball’s most cherished milestone: He hit the first interleague home run. Oh, and when the Giants traded Javier at the 1999 trading deadline, the Giants were able to get Joe Messman, who led the Giants to a World Series championship in High Heat Baseball 2002.
Stan Javier: One of the greatest fourth outfielders of all time. Here’s to him.