Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.
John Jaso, first baseman for the 2016-17 Pirates. He began his Major League career as a catcher, but concussion issues limited him to first base and some outfield by the time he joined the Pirates for his final two seasons in the majors. Jaso was a 12th round pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003 out of Southwestern College, who debuted in the majors five years later. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old and spent his first two seasons in the short-season New York-Penn League. Jaso hit .227 with two homers in 47 games in 2003, then batted .302 with 21 extra-base hits in 57 games in 2004. The next year he moved up to the Low-A Midwest League, where he hit .307 with 25 doubles and 14 homers in 92 games. He was in High-A in 2006, hitting .309 with 22 doubles and ten homers in 95 games. His slow climb continued in 2007 at Double-A, where he had a .316 average, 24 doubles, 12 homers and 71 RBIs in 109 games. Jaso went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .256 in 13 games. In 2008, he started the year in Double-A, hitting .271 with 22 extra-base hits in 78 games. He also posted an .820 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A, then debuted with the Rays in the majors, where he played five games.
In 2009, Jaso spent the entire season in Triple-A. He hit .266 with five homers and a .727 OPS in 104 games. He began the 2010 season in Triple-A, but that lasted just three games before rejoining the Rays. In 109 big league games that year, he hit .263 with five homers and 44 RBIs, finishing fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .224 with five homers in 89 games in 2011, then he was traded to the Seattle Mariners on November 27, 2011. During the 2012 season, he hit .276 with 19 doubles, ten homers and a career high 50 RBIs in 104 games. After one year in Seattle, he was part of a three-team/five-player trade that sent him to the Oakland A’s, where he spent two seasons. In 2013, Jaso hit .271 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games. The next year he played 99 games, hitting .264 with 18 doubles, nine homers and 40 RBIs. He returned to his roots in 2015, getting dealt to the Rays in a five-player deal. That was a one-year stint this time. He batted .286 with 17 doubles and five homers in 70 games. He became a free agent after the season and signed a two-year deal with the Pirates. Jaso played a career high 132 games in 2016, hitting .268, with eight homers and 42 RBIs. In 2017, he slumped down to a .211 average in 126 games, though he tied a career high with ten homers. He came off the bench in 73 of those 126 games. He ended up retiring after the 2017 season. In nine years in the majors, Jaso was a .258 hitter in 808 career games, with 143 doubles, 55 homers, 281 RBIs and 295 runs scored.
Robinzon Diaz, catcher for the 2008-09 Pirates. He was the player the Pirates got back for Jose Bautista in 2008 when the latter was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays. Diaz didn’t have big shoes to fill at the time because Bautista didn’t break out until 2010, but he’s now known as the piece in a one-sided deal. He did well in his brief time with the Pirates, which made it surprising when he was let go after the 2009 season. Diaz hit .289 in 43 games for the Pirates, posting a 0.7 WAR. He saw most of his time with the 2009 club, which ended up being his last season in the majors. Diaz last played pro ball during the winter of 2017. He finished 15-year career with a .295 minor league average in 1,049 games. Before joining the Pirates, his big league career consisted of one game for the 2008 Blue Jays.
Diaz was originally signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2000 at 17 years old. He played his first season in 2001 in the Dominican Summer League, then came to the U.S. in 2002, playing most of that year in the short-season Pioneer League, though Toronto bumped him up to High-A for ten games. In 2003, Diaz was still in short-season ball, but he made it look like a bad decision to hold him back, batting .374 with 20 doubles and 44 RBIs in 48 games in the Appalachian League. In 2004, he spent the season in Low-A, where he hit .287 in 105 games, with a .702 OPS. He returned to the High-A Florida State League in 2005, three years after he first played at the level. He matched his .702 OPS from the previous year, doing it this time in 100 games, with .294 average and 65 RBIs. In 2006, Diaz repeated High-A and posted a .306 average and a .724 OPS in 104 games. He played winter ball in the Dominican for the first time that year, something that he would do every winter for the next ten years as well.
In 2007, Diaz spent most of the year in Double-A, with a brief bump to Triple-A as well. He had success at both levels, combining to hit .320 in 93 games. Diaz didn’t draw many walks (or strikeout) and he was never a home run hitter, but he could always hit for average. His 2008 season saw him play for six teams throughout the year. He didn’t play much before the trade to the Pirates due to an injury. He played over three levels in the minors with the Blue Jays, plus he had one game with Toronto on April 23rd as the DH. He went to Triple-A with the Pirates for five games, then got called up in September, where he caught one game and pinch-hit in another. He sprained his ankle and was unable to play again before the season ended. He was able to play 32 games of winter ball during that 2008-09 off-season, then split the 2009 season between Triple-A and the majors. He had a .663 OPS in 41 games for the Pirates, which was slightly better than the .657 OPS he had in 44 games at Indianapolis. The Pirates let him go on November 30, 2009 and he signed nine days later with the Detroit Tigers. After spending all of 2010 in Triple-A for the Tigers, Diaz ended up playing in the minors for the Texas Rangers (2011-12), Los Angeles Angels (2012) and Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15). He spent the summer of 2016 in Mexico, then wound up his career that winter in the Dominican. Over all levels of play, he was a .290 hitter in 1,374 games.
Ray Sadler,left fielder for the 2005 Pirates. Sadler was signed by the Chicago Cubs as a 30th round draft pick in 1999 out of Hill College in Texas. He had a long career in pro ball, but his entire big league career was limited to three games for the 2005 Pirates, which came between May 8th and May 11th that season. He started those three games in left field and he went 2-for-8 at the plate, hitting a solo homer off of Noah Lowry. Sadler debuted in pro ball in 2000 at 19 years old. He was a draft and follow player, back when teams could draft players one year and sign them right before the following year’s draft. He played in the Arizona Summer League in 2000, hitting .339 in 42 games. In 2001, he played A-Ball for Lansing of the Midwest League, where he hit .341 with 40 extra-base hits and 18 steals in 94 games. In 2002, Sadler played 112 games in High-A, batting .286 with 43 extra-base hits, 81 runs scored and 30 stolen bases. He moved up to Double-A for ten games, which did not go well, going 2-for-30 at the plate. He did much better at Double-A in 2003, hitting .291 with 42 extra-base hits and 17 steals in 112 games. Sadler was acquired by the Pirates August 17, 2003 in a trade for Randall Simon. He finished off the 2003 season in Double-A Altoona, batting .264 in 14 games.
In 2004, Sadler spent the entire season in Altoona. He hit .268 with 25 doubles, 20 homers and 16 steals in 120 games. He split the 2005 season between Double-A and Triple-A, combining to hit .252 with 26 doubles and 15 homers in 131 games. Sadler was called up to the Pirates from Altoona on May 8th when Craig Wilson went on the disabled list. He was sent down on May 13th when the Pirates acquired outfielder Michael Restovich. On September 16th, Sadler was designated for assignment and reassigned to Indianapolis. He struggled through the 2006 season, spending most of the year in Double-A, with just over a month in Triple-A. He hit .220 with 17 homers in 122 games that year. He was let go after the 2006 season via minor league free agency, and signed with the Houston Astros, where he spent the 2007-08 seasons playing 171 games in Double-A and 93 in Triple-A. He lasted 16 games with the Astros in Triple-A in 2009, before finishing the season in the Tampa Bay Rays system. Sadler spent 2010-15 playing independent ball, finishing up his career ten seasons after his only three Major League games. He played 16 years of pro ball, four years of winter ball and even played in the Italy version of the big leagues. He played 1,611 games in the minors/indy ball, hitting 245 homers, while driving in 952 runs. His cousin Donnie Sadler played eight years in the majors.
Stuffy McInnis, first baseman for the 1925-26 Pirates. He is probably the best mid-season pick-up in franchise history. The Pirates signed him two months into the 1925 season and all he did was hit .368 in 59 games, helping them to win their second World Series title. The championship was his fourth World Series title overall. He was a role player with the 1926 Pirates, batting .299 in 47 games. McInnis had a terrific 19-year career that saw him bat .307, with 1,063 RBIs, 871 runs scored and 2,405 hits. He’s also third all-time in sacrifice hits with 383, which is a lot of at-bats to give away for the good of the team. McInnis struck out 251 times in 8,642 career plate appearances, including just one strikeout for the 1925 Pirates. He batted over .300 in 12 seasons. He received MVP votes during each of the 1911-14 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, finishing as high as seventh twice. McInnis received mild Hall of Fame support, accumulating votes in seven years between 1937 and 1951. Stuffy (his first name was John) was also a sure-handed first baseman during an era in which great defense at first base was a lot more important than now. For 11 straight seasons, he finished first or second in fielding percentage at first base. Somehow he is a -4.3 career for defensive WAR, despite being widely regarded as being great defensively and he has the range/numbers to back it up.
McInnis debuted in pro ball in 1908 at 17 years old, hitting .301 in 51 games for Haverhill of the Class-B New England League. He was in the majors by the next season. Debuting six months after his 18th birthday, He was a deep bench player for the 1909 Philadelphia A’s, hitting .239 in 19 games. He saw just a little more time in 1910, hitting .301 in 38 games, while playing four different positions. He’s known as a great first baseman, but he debuted as a shortstop. McInnis became a regular in 1911 and he responded by hitting .321 with 33 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs, 76 runs scored and 23 steals in 126 games. In 1912, he had his best season on offense. He set career highs with his .327 average, 101 RBIs, 27 steals, 49 walks, 13 triples and 83 runs scored. McInnis was nearly as good in 1913, hitting .324 with 30 doubles, 90 RBIs and 79 runs scored in 148 games. He had a rough World Series, going 2-for-17 at the plate, but the A’s still took the title. They returned in 1914 and he went 2-for-14 at the plate in the World Series. During the regular season, he hit .314 with 95 RBIs and 74 runs scored, although low walk and extra-base numbers left him with a .709 OPS. That was still above average during the deadball era, but a large drop-off from his previous two seasons. In 1915, McInnis hit .314 for the second straight season. He played 114 games, with 18 extra-base hits and 14 walks, which caused another slight dip in the OPS, down to .699 that season.
During the 1916-17 seasons, McInnis put up matching .693 OPS numbers each year. It was the heart of the deadball era though, so that number was 48 points about average in 1916 and 55 points above average in 1917. McInnis was traded to the Boston Red Sox in January of 1918 and had a below average season at the plate, but Boston won the World Series. He hit .250 with five singles and an RBI in the Series. During the regular season, he batted .272 with 16 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs and 40 runs scored in 117 games. He rebounded in 1919 with a .305 average and 59 RBIs in 120 games, then followed it up with a .297 average and 71 RBIs in 148 games in 1920. McInnis hit .307 with 31 doubles, ten triples, 76 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 1921. He batted 644 times that year and he had just nine strikeouts. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December of 1921 for three players. In his only season with Cleveland, he hit .305 with 78 RBIs and 58 runs scored in 152 games. That year he struck out just five times in 582 plate appearances.
McInnis was released by Cleveland prior to the 1923 season and he quickly signed with the Boston Braves. He hit .315 that year with 34 extra-base hits and 95 RBIs, while leading the league with 154 games played. In 1924, he batted .291 with 59 RBIs and 57 runs scored in 146 games. Boston released him on April 13, 1925 and he signed with the Pirates on May 29th. After his two seasons in Pittsburgh, McInnis took up managing. He was at the helm of the 1927 Philadelphia Phillies and even recorded his final big league at-bat that season. He was a player-manager in the minors in 1928 and he appeared very briefly in the minors in 1937 at 46 years old.