Monday, January 12, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Alex Ochoa

In the doldrums of the off-season there can be some points where there isn't a lot happening in Twins Territory. It seems as if the front office it done making any major moves. Some of the players headed out on the Twins Caravan at the beginning of the week and Twins Fest is slowly approaching.

Two off-seasons ago I ventured out into a series on the "Worst Twins of All-Time." This can be an entertaining look into some of the worst players to ever suit up in a Twins uniform.

Here is a rundown of all of the players that have been covered so far in the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series" with links back to the original articles:
Alex Ochoa was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1991 amateur draft. He was taken out of Miami Lakes High School in Florida but he would never play in a game for the Orioles. Near the trade deadline in 1995, he was sent from the Orioles to the Mets organization in a multi-player trade that involved Bobby Bonilla. 

Baseball America thought highly of Ochoa as they ranked him in their top 45 prospects before the 1994-1996 seasons. He hadn't done too bad in the minors hitting .301/.355/.437 with Baltimore's Double-A affiliate. His numbers dipped a little at Triple-A but it was still enough to let him debut in 1995 as a 23-year old. Over the next three seasons, he'd play 206 games in a Mets uniform as he combined to hit .273/.320/.386 with 44 extra-base hits. 

During the 1997 off-season, he was sent from New York to Minnesota for Rich Becker. Both players were roughly the same age and neither had shown a ton of promise at the big league level. The teams might have been hoping that a change of scenery would help both players.

Ochoa would play one season in a Twins uniform and it was his worst at the big league level. He played 94 games and hit .257/.288/.353. It was the only time in his entire career where he had an on-base percentage under .300. His defense was also terrible as he was charged with four errors in only 74 games in the outfield (.969 fielding percentage).

According to FanGraphs, he has the fourth worst WAR for any position player in Twins history. Other numbers show he was bad during his Twins tenure. By looking at runs from fielding (Rfield), he was -14 runs worse than average. Runs above replacement level (RAR) put him at -19 runs worse than a replacement level player. Baseball Reference puts his offensive WAR at -0.5 and his defensive WAR at -1.6.

Almost a year to the day, Ochoa was on the move again and his time with the Twins was over. He was off to the Brewers where he'd spend the 1999 season. During the rest of his career, he'd spend time with the Brewers, Reds, Rockies, and Angels. He ended his career as a .279/.344/.422 hitter. 

Ochoa came back to the Metrodome during the 2002 ALCS as a member of the Angels. He wouldn't collect a hit in the series across four plate appearances but he did score two runs. Anaheim went on to win the title and his last big league at-bat came in the World Series. 

Ochoa's baseball career wasn't done after he collected his World Series ring. He would spent the next six seasons playing professionally in the Japanese Leagues and he made some offensive improvements. He'd hit .289/.350/.444 while averaging over 16 home runs per season. His defensive numbers were also improved. 

In 2007, he came back to the States briefly and he joined the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate. The twilight of his career didn't go perfectly. Over 24 games, he batted .138/.174/.149 with one extra-base hit. He was released because of poor performance and headed back to Japan. 

Even after his poor performance with the Red Sox organization, the team liked something they saw with him. He was named an assistant coach for the Red Sox at the beginning of 2009. In 2010, he served as a special assistant in the Red Sox baseball operations department. Since then he has served in multiple capacities for the organization including being the first-base coach on the 2012 Major League staff of Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. 

This past off-season he worked with Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales as they both waited until after June's Draft to sign a contract. They were working out six days a week at their agents sports training institute in South Florida. He led them through an "intense spring training" routine to prepare them for the season. Morales would eventually sign with Minnesota. 

Ochoa has made a career out of playing and coaching baseball. However, he time in Minnesota was some of the worst baseball of his career. 

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