March 17 – Happy Birthday Bill Mueller

muellerAfter spending his first seven big-league seasons as a decent-hitting National League infielder, mostly with the Giants, this Missouri native was signed as a free agent by the Red Sox in January of 2003 and became the team’s starting third baseman. He then shocked all of Red Sox Nation by winning the AL batting title during his first season in Boston and setting career highs with 171 hits, 19 home runs and 85 RBIs.

Those numbers sagged quite a bit during Boston’s World Championship 2004 season as he battled injuries and he began to lose playing time at third to rookie Kevin Youkilis. The switch-hitting Mueller then rebounded during that year’s postseason, leading all Red Sox hitters with a .429 batting average in the team’s four-game sweep of the Cardinals.

During his final season in Beantown, Mueller hit well but his fielding, which had always been no better than average got much worse at the hot corner. He was 34 years-old, his contract was up and Boston’s front office decided to let him walk. It was the right decision. He ended up signing a two-year deal for just under $10 million with the Dodgers and then hurting his knee and playing just 32 games for LA before retiring. He remains the only big leaguer in history to hit grand slams from each side of the plate in the same game.

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