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 with Hudson Valley. Jaso hit .227 with 20 runs, seven doubles, two homers and 20 RBIs in 47 games in 2003, then batted .302 with 34 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs in 57 games in 2004. His .815 OPS in 2004 was an improvement of 159 points. The next year he moved up to the Low-A Midwest League, where he hit .307 with 61 runs, 25 doubles, 14 homers, 50 RBIs and an .899 OPS in 92 games with Southwest Michigan. He was in High-A in 2006 with Visalia of the California League, hitting .309 with 58 runs, 22 doubles, ten homers, 55 RBIs and an .813 OPS in 95 games. His slow climb continued in 2007 at Double-A Montgomery of the Southern League, where he had a .316 average, 62 runs, 24 doubles, 12 homers, 71 RBIs, 59 walks and an .893 OPS in 109 games. Jaso went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .256/.370/.513 in 13 games. In 2008, he started the year back in Montgomery, hitting .271 with 22 extra-base hits, 62 walks and an .813 OPS in 78 games. He also posted an .820 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A Durham of the International League, then debuted with the Rays in the majors, where he played five games, going 2-for-10 with two singles. He played winter ball in Venezuela during the 2008-09 off-season, putting up an .819 OPS in 17 games.
Jaso spent the entire 2009 season in Durham. He hit .266 with 42 runs, 13 doubles, five homers, 30 RBIs and a .727 OPS in 104 games. He began the 2010 season in Durham, but that lasted just three games before rejoining the Rays. In 109 big league games that year, he hit .263 with 57 runs, 18 doubles, five homers, 44 RBIs and a .750 OPS, finishing fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .224 with 26 runs, 15 doubles, five homers, 27 RBIs and a .652 OPS in 89 games in 2011. He was then he was traded to the Seattle Mariners on November 27, 2011. During the 2012 season, he hit .276 with 41 runs, 19 doubles, ten homers, 56 walks, an .850 OPS 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 31 runs, 12 doubles, three homers, 21 RBIs and a .759 OPS in 70 games. The next year he played 99 games, hitting .264 with 42 runs, 18 doubles, nine homers, 40 RBIs and a .767 OPS. 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 23 runs, 17 doubles, five homers, 22 RBIs and an .839 OPS 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 45 runs, a career high 25 doubles, eight homers, 42 RBIs and a .766 OPS. In 2017, he slumped down to a .211 average in 126 games, though he tied a career high with ten homers. He had 28 runs, 19 doubles, 35 RBIs and a .730 OPS. He came off of the bench in 73 of those 126 games that season. He ended up retiring after the 2017 season. In nine years in the majors, Jaso was a .258 hitter in 808 career games, with 295 runs scored, 143 doubles, 55 homers and 281 RBIs.
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 with Medicine Hat, though Toronto bumped him up to High-A Dunedin of the Florida State League for ten games. He combined to hit .277 in 68 games, with 32 runs, nine doubles, 21 RBIs and a .640 OPS. 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 33 runs, 20 doubles, 44 RBIs and a .929 OPS in 48 games for Pulaski of the Appalachian League. In 2004, he spent the season in Low-A with Charleston of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .287 in 105 games, with 62 runs, 20 doubles, 42 RBIs and 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, 47 runs, 17 doubles, six triples and 65 RBIs for Dunedin. In 2006, Diaz repeated High-A and posted a .306 average and a .724 OPS in 104 games for Dunedin, finishing with 59 runs, 21 doubles and 44 RBIs. 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 New Hampshire of the Eastern League, with a bump to Triple-A Syracuse of the International League for 19 more games. He had success at both levels, combining to hit .320/.346/.413 in 93 games, with 37 runs, 20 doubles, four homers and 40 RBIs. 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, going 0-for-4 at the plate. He was batting .244/.266/.336 in 36 games for Syracuse at the time of the deal. He went to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League 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 went 3-for-6 with an RBI and stolen base during his brief time with the 2008 Pirates. He was able to play 32 games of winter ball during that 2008-09 off-season, though he hit just .208 with a .490 OPS.
Diaz split the 2009 season between Indianapolis and the majors. He had a .279 average and 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. He spent all of 2010 in Triple-A for the Tigers, hitting .255 with 29 runs, 17 doubles, 21 RBIs and a .620 OPS in 71 games for Toledo of the International League. Diaz ended up playing in the minors for the Texas Rangers (2011-12), Los Angeles Angels (2012) and Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15), seeing plenty of Triple-A time, though he also played at lower levels. In 2011, he batted .318/.352/.444 in 55 games split between Round Rock of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and Double-A Frisco of the Texas League. He played seven games for Round Rock in 2012 and 46 games for Salt Lake City of the PCL after joining the Angels. He combined to hit .290 in 53 games, with a .746 OPS, which was also his OPS at both stops that year. The Brewers split his 2013 and 2014 time between Triple-A Nashville of the PCL and Huntsville of the Double-A Southern League each year. Diaz had a .302 average and a .768 OPS in 108 games in 2013, followed by a .264 average and a .627 OPS in 83 games in 2014. His final season saw him playing 11 games in High-A, to go along with 44 games at Colorado Springs of the PCL. He hit .291, with a .641 OPS that year. Diaz 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 rookie level Arizona League in 2000, hitting .339/.395/.449 in 42 games. In 2001, he played A-Ball for Lansing of the Midwest League, where he hit .341 with 74 runs, 40 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs, 18 steals and an .886 OPS in 94 games. In 2002, Sadler played 112 games in High-A with Daytona of the Florida State League, batting .286 with 81 runs, 43 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs, 30 stolen bases and a .761 OPS. He moved up to Double-A West Tennessee of the Southern League for ten games, which did not go well, going 2-for-30 at the plate. He did much better at West Tennessee in 2003, hitting .291 with 56 runs, 42 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs, 17 steals and a .786 OPS 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 of the Eastern League, batting .264/.310/.415 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 61 runs, 26 doubles, 15 homers, 72 RBIs, 16 steals and a .778 OPS 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 after his three-game stint, returning to Altoona 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 Altoona, with just over a month in Indianapolis. Between both stops, he hit .220 with 50 runs, 13 doubles, 17 homers and 52 RBIs in 122 games. He had a .186 average and a .536 OPS in 36 games with Indianapolis that season.
Sadler 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 Corpus Christi of the Texas League and 93 in Triple-A with Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League. He spent the entire 2007 season in Corpus Christi, hitting .253 in 138 games, with 72 runs, 25 doubles, 24 homers, 93 RBIs and a .789 OPS. Splitting both levels in 2008, Sadler combined to hit .272 in 126 games, with 73 runs, 28 doubles, 25 homers, 78 RBIs and an .854 OPS. He lasted 16 games with Round Rock in 2009, before finishing the season in the Tampa Bay Rays system with Durham of the International League. He combined to hit .202 in 102 games that year, with 44 runs, 13 doubles, 14 homers and 54 RBIs. Sadler spent 2010-15 playing independent ball, finishing up his career ten seasons after his only three Major League games. He played for Kansas City in the Northern League in 2010, then stayed in town with Kansas City of the American Association, where he played during the 2011-14 seasons. Sadler also saw time with Winnipeg of the American Association during the 2013-14 seasons and he finished his career with nine games for Sussex County of the Canadian-American Association. 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/.286/.304 in 19 games. He saw just a little more time in 1910, hitting .301/.363/.438 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 76 runs scored, 33 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs, 23 steals and a .787 OPS in 126 games. He made the transition to first base that season and finished 22nd in the MVP voting. 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. His .817 OPS was ninth best in the league during that deadball era season, helping him to a 21st place finish in the MVP voting. McInnis was nearly as good in 1913, hitting .324 with 79 runs, 30 doubles, 90 RBIs and a .798 OPS (eighth best in the league) in 148 games. He had a rough World Series, going 2-for-17 at the plate, but the A’s still took the title. He finished seventh in the MVP voting that year. The A’s returned to the World Series in 1914 and he went 2-for-14 at the plate in the series. During the regular season, he hit .314 with 74 runs and 95 RBIs, 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. It was still enough for his second straight seventh place finish in the MVP race.
In 1915, McInnis hit .314 for a 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. He had 44 runs and 49 RBIs that year. 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. He batted .295 in 140 games in 1916, with 42 runs, 25 doubles and 60 RBIs. In 1917, he hit .303 with 50 runs, 19 doubles, 44 RBIs and 18 steals. 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, in a season that was shortened by a month due to the war. He rebounded in 1919 with a .305 average, 59 RBIs and a .702 OPS in 120 games, then followed it up with a .297 average, 50 runs, 21 doubles and 71 RBIs in 148 games in 1920. McInnis hit .307 with 31 doubles, ten triples, 76 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 1921, when rules were put in effect outlawing certain pitches, along with new baseballs being put in play more often, which led to more offense. 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 58 runs scored, 28 doubles, seven triples, 78 RBIs and a .715 OPS 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 70 runs, 34 extra-base hits, 95 RBIs and a .735 OPS, while leading the league with 154 games played. In 1924, he batted .291 with 57 runs, 23 doubles, seven triples, 59 RBIs and a .671 OPS in 146 games. Boston released him on April 13, 1925 and he signed with the Pirates on May 29th. McInnis was a bench player for the Pirates until June 20th, then started seeing regular starts. Despite the great stats, which included a career best .921 OPS, he batted just five times in the final 14 games of the season. In 1926, he was a starter from mid-April through mid-May, getting 88 of his 138 plate appearances during that four-week stretch. His .698 OPS was just slightly under league average during that time. 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. Besides his .308 career average in 2,128 games, he had 312 doubles, 101 triples and 20 homers, with 12 of those being inside-the-park home runs.