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Note: Besides providing advice and news on fantasy baseball, we at Razzball created and now sponsor a game where the goal is to manage a team and compile the worst stats.  These Historical Spotlights honor those players who would’ve excelled in such a format.   See here for more info. See here for the summary of the inaugural 2008 season.

True love is rare.  True love means not just accepting the good and the bad – it means never even thinking to judge.  True love is a warm embrace – like a passionate wet kiss you don’t want to end, a steamy mug of cocoa that you don’t want to stop drinking, a fever that you never want to leave your system….

True love is what Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. feels for our Razzball Historical Spotlight inductee Brad Ausmus.

drayton mclane screen-capture-7 brad ausmusheart texas

Brad Ausmus (an Americanized version of the popular German surname Ahsmünch) is a hard man not to love – especially if you were a Jewish mother with a single daughter.  A good Jewish boy out of Connecticut, graduated from Dartmouth, a successful professional…(you could do worse…)

He began his career in the Yankee farm system and was plucked from their roster in the 1992 expansion draft (along with Charlie Hayes and Carl Everett) for the Rockies and Marlins.  After a couple of years on the Padres and Tigers, he was part of part of possibly the most Razztastic trade ever –  an 8 person trade b/w the Tigers and Astros that included Ausmus and 2 other Razzball Spotlight members (Jose Lima, Brian L Hunter).  It was as if Detroit traded GM and Chrysler to Houston for Enron.

Ausmus’ initial 2 year stint (1997-1998) in Houston resulted in okay hitting and two first round playoff losses.  When Ausmus wasn’t hitting for the collar, he and his open collar hit on Houston girls.

brad ausmus out on the town in houston

In what McLane would later say was “The biggest mistake of my life”, the Astros found the trade receipt and returned Ausmus to Detroit.  Ausmus made the All-Star game in 1999 with Detroit – the benefits of playing for a crappy team and rules requiring each team has at least one representative.  The Astros managed to make the playoffs in 1999 only to lose again in the 1st round.

In 2001, McLane listened to his heart and re-traded for Ausmus.  The trade came just in time as Ausmus was set to embark on a Razztastic eight season hitting stretch during which he plumbed levels that had never been plumbed before.  Now if you’re the type that thinks Ausmus is the Bossmus (i know at least one), you’re probably thinking, “Was Ausmus really any worse a hitter than all those light-hitting catchers I grew up with?”  Well, let’s look at the stats…

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The best way to compare vs. previous eras is to use the OPS+ metric which adds OBP and SLG then factors in league and park averages.  Ausmus’s 2001 (57), 2003 (55), 2004 (63) and 2006 (54) mark the 3rd, 4th, 15th, and 7th lowest OPS+ seasons by any catcher with 448+ plate appearances since 1930.  No other catcher even managed two seasons in their career that were as bad as this crappershop quartet Ausmus produced in a six year period.  In 2002, he became the 2nd player in the last 100+ years to hit into at least 30 double plays and not hit 30 extra base hits.  He managed the GIDP>XBH feat again in 2006 with 21 GIDP to 19 XBH.

When asked to pack Ausmus’ ‘tools of ignorance’, the equipment guys would pack his bats instead of his catching equipment.  His hitting was so cartoonish that opposing pitchers would call the Astro hitter “Rad Rausmus”.  Tony LaRussa laid awake at night wondering if he coached Ausmus whether he’d hit him 9th and let the pitcher hit 8th or would he keep Ausmus 8th and have him bunt and let the pitchers swing away.  But all the while, the Astros kept penciling his name in the lineup card – praising him for everything from his defense to his handling of his pitchers to the pristine condition of his game-used bats.

brad ausmus's bat

Starting in 2007, the Astros realized that they couldn’t count on Ausmus (then 38) to forfeit the 8th spot in the lineup forever.  Ausmus took Eric Munson under his wing in 2007 but Munson’s 74 OPS+ proved too competent and he was promptly waived at the end of the year.  Ausmus graciously took a backup role to J.R. Towles in 2008 and watched as Towles exploded onto the Razzball scene with an otherworldly .137 AVG and 34 OPS+ in 146 ABs.

While Ausmus maintained his torpid streak of hitting in 2007-2008 despite additional rest and more favorable matchups, he could see the writing on the wall.  He realized the only way he could repay the love that McLane and the Astros showed him was to heed Sting’s advice and set them free.  Carlos Lee even offered to pay his salary but Ausmus refused, stating “It’s certainly flattering but I had an unprecedented 8 year run here.  My job is done.  Plus, as Carlos’s accountant, I had to advise against it.”

Ausmus is currently trying to sign on with a Southern California team.  One would think his bat would fit in just perfectly with San Diego.  Until then, he’ll be hitting the waves – hopefully more successfully then his hitting of baseballs.

bradboardBrad Ausmus walk of shame

Brad Ausmus – Jewish Sports Hall of Fame honoree and now Razzball Historical Spotlight inductee.  You’ve made us so proud, bubelah!

Update:  Funny tribute video by the Astros for Ausmus.  Nice to see they have a sense of humor about this stuff.

  1. Steve says:
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    Brilliant.

    Does the quality of girls rise along with OPS+?

    A topic for further discussion perhaps.

  2. Shogun says:
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    Excellent post. Very funny. Ausmus is so razztastic that he could have ben a great candidate to be plugged into that Twins dreamteam infield last season with Punto and Everett.

  3. Shogun says:
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    *Been*. Though I’m sure the Twins could’ve found a slap hitter named Ben for the infield too.

  4. The Astros had a 7-8-9 of Ausmus-Everett-Pitcher that has to be the worst in modern times.

    With the twins, Mike Lamb was awful at 3B last year. A combo of him, Everett, and Punto would’ve been razztastic. I’d call that infield Morneau and No More….

  5. Shogun says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Yeah, and I think the ‘Stros had Lamb in that lineup too, though he wasn’t as bad for them as he was for MN last year. Eesh. This year the MN is going to trot out Brendan Harris/Brian Buscher (platoon) at third, Punto at SS, and Casilla at 2B, which is pretty razztastic and would only be worse if Casilla went down and Matt Tolbert became the starter. Though I shan’t make too much fun of Casilla because of the sacred law: SAGNOF.

  6. sean says:
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    With “Milk” about to do some damage at the Oscars, Ausmus should probably be more heralded for being an openly-gay major leaguer than the proverbial automatic out.

  7. Steve says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Too true. The words “I’m a ballplayer (or insert any professional sporting occupation here)” have a special cachet all their own.

    Even the Razztastic can pull the chicks!

  8. EricW says:
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    any discussion of hot baseball wives is never complete with out the one and only Anna Benson she makes me wish Kris was still around

  9. If I’m Ausmus I’m holding out until the big deal comes along. Remeber, Jason Varitek is supposed to sign a multi million dollar deal this winter to be the starter for the Red Sox. Tony LaRusa would convince Rick Ankiel to come back to pitching if he had that problem.

  10. @sean: That’s wrong, man. He’s got a wife and two kids. And a ton of adoring lady fans in Houston – http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/discussion/houston_chronicle_ausmus_homer_helps_give_astros_win_over_braves/

    @Steve: True dat.

    @EricW: Yeah, she was nuts though. The more players’ wives I see online, the more I think she’s overrated. Gimme Ms. Kotsay any day.

    @Schruender: Varitek has had a great career but he looked so bad at times last year. The Red Sox usually get rid of legends too early vs. too late (see Fisk, Clemens, Boggs, Pedro) but maybe they’ll make an exception for him. They should’ve held onto Shoppach vs. package him for Coco.

  11. Eric W says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: ya Anna was crazy but in my experiences that’s not always a bad thing. and that video was classic i am surprised they found so many video clips of him actually hitting the ball. hopefully i spelled my name right this time

  12. 101 M.P.H. says:
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    Malign his stats all you want, but it looks to me like Ausmus was primed for a high O.P.S. the night that picture was taken at the bar. As an aside, whoever was working the door must have been asleep at the switch….

    And on a semi-related note, is that Jorge Posada’s wife or his personal floatation device?

  13. @101 M.P.H.: Ausmus sure looks like the BMOC in that picture – just can’t say whether that was a high school or college campus.

  14. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: He’s obviously rocking out at the older kids table at a Bar Mitzvah. “Can I get four Alabama Slammer shots for the ladies?”

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