This week's Signature Sundays post is a baseball player that Red Sox and Reds fans should remember, though maybe not all that fondly...
In that 2006 season with Boston though, he was everything you could ask for out of a fill-in fourth outfielder. Pena averaged just about a hit per game when he appeared (83 hits in 84 games), clubbing 11 home runs, 15 doubles and 42 RBI. The rumors were true as well, Holy Lord could he demolish a baseball when he got a hold of one! I remember more than once that year just watching one sail in flat out awe. The best part was that while he did strike out 90 times, he somehow, just for that one season, was able to shake the "two results only - home run or whiff" curse. He hit a career high .301, an astounding 42 points higher than his next best MLB season. Wily found ways to get on base, as is evidenced by his career best .349 OBP, 30 points higher than any other season of his career. His OPS was a respectable .838, second by just a hair to his 2004 season with the Reds (.843). Had batting in a better Boston lineup resulted in Pena seeing more pitches to hit? Had the Red Sox hitting staff unlocked the secret to unleashing his full talent? Had Wily Mo finally proved that he belonged in the Bigs?
The answer to all three of those questions is a resounding 'No'. As the 2007 season progressed Pena struggled. Although he was striking out less often than in 2006, it seemed he had forgotten how to hit. After 73 games, batting just .218 and with an on-base percentage that was lower than his previous season's batting average, Pena was dealt to the Washington Nationals where he actually had a very nice finish to the 2007 season. He didn't last there either and didn't play in the Majors at all in 2009 or 2010. After very brief stints with both the D-Backs and Mariners in 2011, he now plays overseas.
I'll always remember Wily Mo Pena's time with the Red Sox, and I'm happy to give this card a home in my Red Sox collection.
Penmanship Hall of Fame - For not only fitting a lengthy name on the sticker, but for doing so with such great cursive, Ga'Quincy McKinstry goes directly to my collection's penm...
And Reds fans are happy to have Bronson Arroyo!
I think Wily Mo has one of the best names I have ever heard.
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