It would have been interesting to see what Mark Sweeney could have done if he were given a full-time job in the majors ten years ago. In 1995, he hit .345/.452/.518 for the Angels AAA affiliate, and was traded, finishing the year with 76 at-bats of .368/.468/.553 work for the Cardinals AAA affiliate. He then fell into the Utility Player Zone, only performing well enough to stick around on the bench as a lefty-swinging, high-OBP guy. There are only two ways to crawl out of the UPZ:
- Use sample size flukes to your advantage, and explode with 100 at-bats of .380-hitting nonsense.
- Get on a bad team without any other options for a starter.
1998 - Stinks with the Padres in a super-utility role, hitting .234/.324/.339 over 192 at-bats.
2000 - After bludgeoning the International League for two years, he gets another chance on the Brewers, but only hits .219/.337/.342 in 73 at-bats.
2001 - Fares better in the limited major league time he sees, but is barely adequate in AAA.
2002 - Has one at-bat for San Diego's AAA team. At this point, most 32-year olds would give up. Thus begins the third act.
2005 - Has a great season for the Padres in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, hitting .294/.395/.466. He probably didn't tell a whining Ryan Klesko to stop complaining about the park, but I'd like to think he at least thought about it.