This Day in Baseball History: July 27th, 1998

I guess the reason teams keep giving guys like this a job is to give us a chance to be entertained by useless trivia like this.

On July 27, 1998:

Tony Womack doesn’t hit into a double-play … again.

Let’s get this straight right out of the chute — Tony Womack wasn’t a good ballplayer. His .273/.317/.365 slash line is light, even for a middle infielder, and even worse, he wasn’t a particularly good defensive player. After piddling around in Pittsburgh and Arizona for the beginning of his career, Womack had his best season in 2004, at the age of 34, with the St. Louis Cardinals. His .307/.349/.385 line was at least good enough for a 91 OPS+ in 145 games as the St. Louis second baseman. The Yankees, who picked him up after the mirage, should have known better as a result of Womack’s .338 BABIP (a good 30 points over normal). Womack rewarded the Yankees’ 2-year/$4 million contract with a .249/.276/.280 season and was traded the following off-season. He was out of baseball after 2005.

But the one thing Womack could be counted on for was his speed. He was like Willy Taveras that way. Teams continue to give him a job seeing eye-popping stolen base numbers, and they hope to catch lightning in a bottle (a good BABIP year). It usually doesn’t work, and neither player could take a walk to save their life. But as I said, Womack was fast and could steal bases, which should count for something. From 1997-1999, he led the National League in steals with 60, 58, and 72, respectively. For his career, he stole 363 bases in 437 attempts, good enough for an impressive 83% clip. As I said, the man was fast, and his only real marketable asset was probably his speed.

But there’s something more impressive that he did with his speed, and no, it wasn’t his game-tying, Game 7, bottom of the 9th in the 2001 World Series hit (that has nothing to do with speed, unless it was an infield hit which I don’t think it was). During the 1997 and 1998 seasons, he racked up 219 consecutive games and 915 at-bats without hitting into a double-play. Roger Repoz had the longest game (313) and at-bat (891) streak (in the Retrosheet Era) before this day when Womack broke the at-bat streak. Womack never got to the game streak, but all in all, it’s pretty impressive that a guy with a career 1.73 GB/FB rate didn’t hit into a double-play for that long. He was, indeed, really fast.

Trivia Time
What is Willy Taveras’ longest game and at-bat streak without hitting into a double-play?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Carlos Baerga and Mark Bellhorn of all people.

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