Countdown To Pitchers And Catchers: #44 Richie Sexson
Mike B. | On 07, Jan 2012
Today continues our countdown to the start of Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Arizona on February 20. We’ll count down the days, profiling a former Indian who wore the corresponding number. Some players will be memorable, others just our favorites and some, the only one we could find who wore that number. Today, we chronicle the free swinging career of Richie Sexson.
By Mike Brandyberry
The spring breeze this morning gives Indians fans a feeling of spring training and Opening Day being just around the corner. Former first baseman, Richie Sexson, also was known for creating a nice breeze.
Sexson was a 24th round draft pick by the Indians in the 1993 MLB draft. He progressed through the Tribe minor league system and debuted in September of 1997, but really began to contribute in 1998. That season the tall, long-swinging, slugger hit .310, with 11 home runs in 174 at bats. He was a right handed bat off the bench in the playoffs, but struck out four times in eight at bats.
He became a full time starter for the Tribe in 1999, splitting time between first base and left field. The slugger was in the lineup daily, despite his juggling positions. In 134 games, Sexson hit 31 home runs and drove in 116, but his batting average dropped to .255 and he struck out 117 times. The free swinger was fitting in nicely with the rest of the slugging Tribe power hitters.
The next season, however, with several injuries and a struggling pitching staff Sexson was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline for Jason Bere, Bob Wickman and Steve Woodard. The three pitchers were supposed to help springboard the Tribe back into the playoffs. The team would finish one game short of a wild card birth, however.
Once in Milwaukee, Sexson became a full time first baseman and hit 45 home runs in 2001 and 2003. He was a National League All-Star in 2002 and 2003 and hit .270 or better in all three seasons, however his strike outs were rising each year. He struck out 178 times in 2001 with the Brewers. After the 2003 season he was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks, in part to make room for Prince Fielder.
After an injury-riddled season, he signed a lucrative four year deal with the Seattle Mariners. Once reaching the cavernous Safeco Stadium and moist Seattle air, Sexson’s strike outs remained, but his power and batting average became to plummet. By 2007, Sexson hit only .205, hitting 21 home runs and striking out 100 times. The next season he was designated for assignment and eventually signed with the New York Yankees.
Sexson played a minor role with the Yankees in 2008 and could not restore his career. Once his contract expired at the end of the season he became a free agent and has not been signed by a major league team. He last appeared in a game on August 13, 2008.
Photo: Amy Scarcetta/Associated Press