Unforgetting Reggie Sanders

Chris Pondy

"Unforgetting" isn't a word? Well, it is now. Ready to conjure some painful memories?

December 22, 1999: The San Diego Padres trade Quilvio Veras, Wally Joyner, and Reggie Sanders to the Braves for Bret Boone, Ryan Klesko, and Jason Shiell

Reggie Sanders is currently one of eight ballplayers as members of the 300-300 (HR-SB) club; he possessed the rare combination of both power and speed. At the time of the trade, Sanders had just completed a 26-HR, 72-RBI campaign for the NL Champion Padres, and had tied a career high with 36 stolen bases. Just the type of player you'd like in your lineup, right?

Nine games into the 2000 season, Sanders was hitting .200 with a WPA of -0.506 batting second in the lineup. He was dropped to seventh the very next game and for much of the season thereafter. He had a 2-hit game April 14, and then didn't register another hit for two weeks (33 AB). He didn't hit a single home run that month with a paltry total of two…count 'em, TWO…RBI. In fact, Sanders wouldn't hit a home run until June 4 - his 126th plate appearance of the season.

At the All-Star Break, Sanders had a grand total of four home runs and 13 RBI. Not what you'd expect from a guy you trade two of your best hitters for, I'm sure. July would be a month that looked like Sanders was coming around, hitting .277, but without a lot of run production.

Sanders would ultimately finish the season with a flourish, but it was too late to salvage a disaster of a season. For the month of September, Sanders hit .345 with five homers, 18 RBI, and eight steals; he finished the month with a nine-game hitting streak; he had three 3-hit games and a 6-RBI game as well. The home runs and RBI in September were each half of his season total (11 and 37 respectively). He stole 21 bases, which isn't bad, but consider that Ryan Klesko out in San Diego actually stole more bases that year (23) than Sanders.

Sanders would finish the year with a .232 batting average, and that was saved only by his hot September. He first dropped under .200 on April 16 and wouldn't see the Mendoza line again until September 9. That sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it?

Fortunately for the Braves, they only had to endure one year of this. What stings, though, is that Sanders went to Arizona in 2001 and hit 33 homers with 90 RBI. Needless to say, the Reggie Sanders deal was a major dud.

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