Manny Stiles has suggested that I write from time to time about players from the past that aren't mentioned on the internet very often because they played so long ago. When he made the suggestion, the first name that popped up was Biff Pocoroba of the Atlanta Braves. He was born on July 25th, 1953 making him 55 in July of this year.
Pocoroba played all ten seasons of his major league career with the Braves. He started playing professional baseball at the age of 17. By the time he was 21, he was in the majors to stay. He wasn't known for his power with only 21 home runs, and driving in 172 runs while hitting only .257 lifetime. He hit 14 of his home runs in the 1977 and 1978 seasons. Pocoroba hit only 7 more home runs in his other 8 seasons.
He made the 1978 All Star team, but finished the season with 6 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .242 average. The highlight of his career came on May 17, 1977 when he hit a a walkoff grand slam against Bill Atkinson of the Montreal Expos at Fulton County Stadium. They were trailing 6-5 before his home run and won the game 9-6.
Pocoroba is the only major league player in history to have Biff on their birth certificate. His middle name, Benedict, was the last name of Braves' catcher Bruce Benedict, who played on the Braves with Pocoroba for several seasons. Pocoroba only struck out 109 times in 1457 at bats while walking 182 times and only had one season in which he struck out more than he walked and that was 1981 when he struck out 15 times and walked 12 times.
Atlantabaseball.net reports that Pocoroba is in the restaurant supply business in the Atlanta area and selling meat for his Sausage World company. Below is more information about his business:
Detailed Sausage World Inc Company Profile
This company profile is for the private company Sausage World Inc, located in Lilburn, GA. Sausage World Inc's line of business is whole meats/products.
Company Profile: Sausage World Inc
Year Started: 1988
State of Incorporation: Georgia
Location Type: Single Location
Est. Annual Sales: $150,000
Est. Employees: 2
Est. Employees at Location: 2
Contact Name: Biff Pocoroba
Contact Title: President
You would think a company with 2 employees wouldn't need a president unless the other employee was the vice president. Pocoroba has one of those names that stand out in memories of baseball fans. Other players I can think of with memorable names are Rip Repulski, Ray Jablonski, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Andy Pafko, Catfish Metkovich and if he is the majors this season Shin-Soo Choo who I have renamed (hope Chris Berman hasn't beaten me to this name) Shin-Soo Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Spring Training Notes
Brewers Send LaPorta to Minor League Camp
It was no surprise that Matt LaPorta was sent by the Milwaukee Brewers to minor league camp last week. He hit .353 this spring, but with only 30 games of minor league experience in Rookie and A leagues last summer, he needs to get more experience. 2007 was his first minor league season, and he had 12 home runs and 31 runs batted in while hitting .304. His slugging percentage was .696.
He batted only 115 times last season. If he had played in four times as many games giving him 460 at bats he would have been projected to hit 48 home runs and drive in 124 runs. I will be surprised if Brewers don't promote him to Double A this season. It will be interesting to watch his minor league stats this season and he should be in majors sometime next season for sure if not in September of this year.
Hits - Angel Pagan is leading all spring hitters with 20 hits and hitting .351.
Runs Batted In - 12 players tied with 5 each
Walks - Colby Rasmus leads with 12 walks which is a real accomplishment for a rookie.
Strikeouts - Rickie Weeks leads with 20 strikeouts in 40 at bats with only 3 walks.
Stolen Bases - Eugenio Velez leads with 9 stolen bases.
On Base Percentage - Josh Hamilton leads among players with at least 30 at bats with a .647 on base percentage.
Slugging - Josh Hamilton leads with a 1.100 slugging percentage.
Batting Average - Josh Hamilton leads with a .600 batting average this spring.
Extra Base Hits - Josh Hamilton leads in this category with 9 extra base hits but is tied with six other players.
Hits Allowed - Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez, and Mark Redman lead with 24 hits allowed. Webb is the name you wouldn't expect to be on this list but he has a 7.90 ERA this spring in 13 2/3 innings. On the positive side Webb has 11 strikeouts and has issued no walks.
Earned Runs - Barry Zito with 21 earned runs allowed is way ahead in this category with three pitchers tied with 15. Zito is 1-3 with a 14.92 ERA. He won't win many games this season if he keeps letting 14 runs score every 9 innings he pitches.
Home Runs Allowed - J.D. Durbin (6) with Erik Bedard next with 5. Durbin is having a disastrous spring with an 0-3 record and an ERA of 10.95. He has pitched 12 1/3 innings and has allowed 15 runs, 22 hits and 7 walks while striking out 5. Opposing batters are hitting .379 against Durbin.
The Bill James Gold Mine of 2008, which was sent to me by Ron Sayles, a longtime reader at blogger.com, has many interesting facts, including a comparison of stats of Josh Beckett that show his numbers improved in several categories.
2006 - 120
2007 - 76
Home Runs Allowed:
2006 - 36
2007 - 17
Runs Batted In Against Beckett:
2006 - 109
2007 - 72
2006 - 74
2007 - 40
2006 - .760
2007 - .659
The most significant stats to me are the facts that he reduced his runs allowed by 46 and his home runs allowed by over 50 percent and issued only 40 walks after walking 74 in 2006. Surprisingly, hitters hit .245 against him in both seasons.
Another surprise is that the Chicago Cubs won more games when Jason Marquis started than when Carlos Zambrano started a game. The Cubs won 20 games when Marquis started and 18 games when Big Z pitched.
In 2007, Kyle Kendrick had the best run support with the Philadelphia Phillies, scoring 6.45 runs on days he pitched. Matt Cain led in worst run support, receiving only 3.16 runs from the San Francisco Giants per start. So that explains his 7-16 record despite having a 3.65 ERA.