Happy birthday to Ozzie Smith who made his debut on the planet on Dec. 26, 1954.
I can't believe The Wizard is 58. It seems like just yesterday I was in high school fretting that he would leave the Cardinals as a free agent because he wanted an outrageous $1 million a year to play baseball. Can you imagine?
Baseball has changed so much in the nearly two decades since Smith retired that I wonder if one of the greatest players in the history of the game would have even had a chance to be an everyday player in the current era.
In his first four seasons in the majors, Ozzie hit .231 with a .295 on base percentage and a .278 slugging percentage. He hit a total of one home run in those four seasons. It's hard to believe in this stats oriented era that places a heavy emphasis on offense that Smith would be thought of as much of a commodity regardless of his prowess with the glove.
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Smith hit .281 with a .358 on base percentage from 1985-93. But it took six seasons for him to break the .260 mark. While I agree with former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog that a run prevented is as good as a run scored, I just don't believe we would ever have had a chance to see Ozzie bloom offensively and become a complete player if he were born 25 years later.
I'm just glad that we did.