Battlegrounds Profile: Shawn Green

MLB UK’s Battlegrounds event takes place in Hyde Park tomorrow, and what better way to get ready for the event than reading about the third and final of the former MLB stars set to participate in the home run derby, Shawn Green. You can find all the details of the event here, including when you’ll be able to see Green, Carlos Peña and Cliff Floyd in action, and we hope to see many of you at the event, so check out the details of our fan meetup if you’d like to join John, myself, and other UK fans.

Career Statistics (per Baseball-Reference):

Games: 1951
Plate Appearances: 7963
Batting Average: .283
On-base Percentage: .355
Slugging Percentage: .494
Doubles: 445
Triples: 35
Home Runs: 328
Stolen Bases: 162
OPS+: 120
Wins Above Replacement: 34.5

Career in the Same Number of Words as Green’s Total Home Runs

Green was also a first round draft pick, taken 16th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 out of Tustin High School in California. The young outfielder crushed the International League at the Blue Jays’ AAA affiliate in 1994, winning the batting title with a .344 average and posting a .912 OPS at just 20 years old. That earned Green a September call-up and the number six spot in Baseball America’s prospect rankings coming into 1995.

Green would be in the majors for good, and was an immediate success, hitting 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 405 plate appearances for the Blue Jays, with an OPS 15% better than league average, although platoon concerns limited his playing time. He finally found his way into everyday at-bats in 1998, topping 30 home runs for the first time, and significantly increasing his contributions on the basepaths, stealing 35 bases. Then Green had a breakout in his age-26 season in 1999, rapping 45 doubles and 42 home runs to lead the National League in total bases with 361.

With Green looking to return to California when he became a free agent after the 2000 season, the Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers with one year left of arbitration, who almost immediately extended Green with a six-year deal. His first season in Los Angeles was more like his pre-1999 performance, but he would go on to have two incredible seasons in 2001 and 2002, with an OPS+ of 154 in each, a combined 91 homers and a .291/.379/.579 slash line across the two years.

Shoulder issues would bother Green as he moved into his 30s and the power would never reach those lofty heights again, but he was still clearly above-average for the next three seasons. Briefer stints with the Diamondbacks (2005-06) and Mets (06-07) came after the Dodgers, and Green passed the 2000 hit milestone in his final season in 2007, before retiring at 35 in early 2008.

Best Season

1999, 2001 and 2002 all have real claims, with Green hitting over 40 homers and putting up an OPS well over .900 in all three. 2001 might just have the edge, as Green set his career high in home runs (49) and slugging percentage (.598) but struck out just 15.3% of the time, and was also an incredibly efficient basestealer, going 20-for-24. The home run mark is still a Dodgers record, although Cody Bellinger is now doing his best to change that. All three years were worth more than six wins by Baseball Reference WAR, and Green finished in the top ten in MVP voting each time, making the All-Star team in both 1999 and 2002. The latter also featured Green’s candidate for the greatest offensive game of all time, in which he hit four home runs and racked up a record 19 total bases in a 6-for-6 performance. Green also hit nine home runs that week.

Postseason Experience

Green only got to play in two postseasons, both after the peak of his career, but he did star in the Dodgers’ 2004 NLDS loss to the Cardinals, helping the Dodgers to their only win of the series with two home runs in a 4-0 Game 3 victory. He also appeared for the Mets in their 2006 posteason run, recording ten hits, including three doubles, over two series. The Cardinals would once again foil Green, as New York went down to them in seven games in the NLCS. Green finished with a .900 OPS over 53 postseason plate appearances.

Best Homer(s) on Youtube

Yep, it’s got to be that game.

Best Baseball Card

The blog post this appeared on is worth checking out for an extremely young-looking Derek Jeter, but I particularly liked Green here. In his high school uniform, staring into the distance, with what seems to be a forest behind him, he almost looks more like a golfer who’s waiting to see if his approach shot has dropped near the pin.

Of Note

Green wrote a book about his career and approach to the game called The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95mph. As might be apparent from the title, Green had a Zen mentality about baseball, focusing on staying in the moment when he was at-bat. It was recently cited by B&N favourite Eric Thames as an instrumental part of his altered approach at the plate.

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