A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Padre Backstops Vol. 5: Brad Ausmus

Haven't done a "Padre Backstops" post in a while.  Next up is a Padre catcher that I looked up to as a kid, and the first of the "Backstop" series that I ever got to see play.

Ausmus made his MLB debut for the Padres in 1993, but he spent time with two organizations prior to that.  He was originally drafted by the Yankees in 1987, and the Rockies selected him with the 54th pick of the '92 Expansion draft.  He made his way to San Diego with Doug Bochtler and a player to be named later in a trade that sent Greg Harris and Bruce Hurst to Colorado.

The PTBNL turned out to be a pitcher named Andy Ashby, who would go 70-62 with a 3.59 ERA over eight seasons in San Diego.  He was a back to back All-Star in 1998 and 1999.

Anyways, despite the five year gap between the time he was drafted and the time he made his MLB debut, Ausmus had an 18 year career with four different teams (Padres, Tigers, Astros, and Dodgers).  He was with the Padres from '93 to '96, when he was traded midseason to the Tigers in exchange for Chris Gomez and his replacement, John Flaherty.  As bummed as I was that he was traded, those two players were big contributors to the '96 NL West Championship team.

No borders here, just full bleed photos of Ausmus and the tools of ignorance.  I loved these uniforms.  I obviously love the vintage Friar unis from the 70s, but the orange and blue look sharp.  In most of our family pictures as a kid, my parents asked us what we should wear, and I suggested that we wear Padre colors, orange and blue (because, apparently you have to wear matching clothes to take a family picture).

Brad was a three time Gold Glove winner ('01, '02, and '06) and an All-Star in 1999.  He had a .251 career average, which was slightly higher with the Padres (.255).  His first three offensive years with the Padres were pretty good, but he hit .181 with a homer and 13 RBI in '96, which prompted the Pads to send him elsewhere.

But he wasn't known for his bat.  He was known for his defense.  When he retired, the only two catchers with more putouts than him were Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Kendall.  He led the league in fielding percentage five times and twice led the league in percentage caught stealing.

In his time with the Padres, he threw out 105 runners, good for a respectable 35.7% caught stealing percentage.  As a kid who wanted to be a catcher, I thought that was awesome.  Nobody else thought he was cool, though.  Kids dig the longball.

Ausmus ranks first all time among Jewish players in games played with 1,938, and is fifth in hits and eighth in RBI.  He was the manager for the Israeli national team that lost in pool finals and failed to qualify for the World Baseball Classic.  He is currently a special assistant for the Padres and has been working with their minor league players, most notably stud prospect Austin Hedges.

Other trivia:
On August 2, 1997, he was the first catcher to wear the FOX mini-camera in his helmet during a game.
He has also played every other infield position (besides pitcher) and never had an error.

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