Monday, January 19, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Houston Jimenez

Baseball is in the in-between time before players head to spring training and after most of the off-season moves have been made. This gives me some time to jump back into one of the more popular off-season series here at NoDak Twins Fan.

Lots of people can debate who was the best player in an organization's history. For Minnesota, the argument can be made in favor of Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, and a few others. It's fun to look at the other side of the coin and examine who some of the worst players were to lace up their cleats in Minnesota.

There have been over a half dozen players covered so far in the series and there will be more to come in the future. For now, enjoy the latest installment in the "Worst Twins of All-Time Series."
Houston Jimenez began his professional career as a 16-year old in the Mexican League. The Chicago Cubs would give him an opportunity to play in the Florida State League as a 17-year old but he struggled to hit .215 with a .289 slugging percentage. He drew over 100 walks in 446 at-bats to give him an impressive .366 OBS.

Over the next five seasons he would spend most of his playing time in Mexico. The White Sox organization gave him a brief taste of Triple-A in 1978 but his 13 game try-out resulted in a .220 batting average and very little power.

Jimenez signed with the Twins as an international free agent at the end of October in 1980. Half a year later he would be sold back to his Mexican League team. He would end up back in the Twins organization during July 1982.  Before the end of June in 1983, he would debut in Minnesota and he began to split playing time with Ron Washington at shortstop. .

His rookie campaign didn't go perfectly. Over 86 at-bats across 36 games, he hit .174/.207/.256 with six extra-base hits. The next year he would make it into over 100 games and his batting numbers didn't improve all that much. His batting average jumped 27 points but his slugging percentage dipped nine points. Over 409 plate appearances in Minnesota, he hit .195/.231/.247 with 18 extra-base hits.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jimenez also had some flaws. All of his appearances as a Twin came at shortstop. His fielding percentage was under .970 in each season. He committed 22 errors across 566 chances while playing a defensive position where he was probably a little over-matched.

For his Twins career, Baseball Reference has him with a combined -1.2 WAR. His hitting was so bad runs batting (Rbat) was -37 worse than the average player was as a hitter. As far as wins above average (WAA) he cost the Twins 2.7 wins over a replacement level player. FanGraphs ranks his WAR even lower with a -1.5 mark over two Twins seasons.

Jimenez wouldn't make it back to the big leagues until the 1987 season and this was after the Twins released him. He combined to play in 16 games for the Pirates and Indians organizations from 1987-88, In that time he collected one hit over 27 at-bats. Even though his big league career was over, he would continue to play baseball for the next decade.

From 1993-2001, Jimenez played seasons with multiple teams in the Mexican League. He was 43-years old in his last professional game and he was over 14 years older than the average age of the other hitters in the league. While still being an active player, he took over managerial duties and his second career had begun.

From 1999-2006, he managed multiple teams throughout the Mexican League. He joined the Rockies minor league system and served at two different levels. he got elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. He was one of Mexico's coaches in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and he currently serves as manager of Puebla, where he began his career.

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