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1994 Score #110 Dante Bichette

Alphonse Dante Bichette

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[edit] Biographical information

Dante Bichette was one of the most-feared hitters of the 1990s, and the outfielder was part of the "Blake Street Bombers", the big bats of the 1995 Colorado Rockies lineup that also included Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker and Vinny Castilla who led the team to the NL Wild Card. His son Dante Bichette, Jr. was a first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft.

Bichette's production relied heavily on the influence of Coors Field and Mile High Stadium and his park-adjusted statistics are not as impressive as his reputation. The park factor in Colorado during Bichette's days there varied from 116 to 129.

[edit] Struggling in the minors

Bichette was initially signed by the California Angels and scout Preston Douglas as the 17th round pick in the 1984 amateur draft, the 424th overall pick. Assigned to the Salem Angels, he only hit .232/~.256/.332 with six walks and 53 strikeouts in 250 AB. Moving up to the Quad City Angels, he batted .265/~.287/.391 with 25 stolen bases and a Midwest League-leading 13 game-winning RBI.

[edit] Developing into a prospect

Advancing to the Palm Springs Angels in 1986, the 22-year-old hit .272/~.322/.428 as he continued to develop. He drove in 73 runs in 68 games and was promoted to the Midland Angels, where he put up a .284/~.333/.514 line. He struck out 102 times that year, but hit 22 home runs and drive in 109 runners. Amazingly, his line had improved with each level, going from overwhelmed in short-season class A to a fairly productive player in AA.

In 1987, Dante was with the AAA Edmonton Trappers and produced a .300/~.347/.481 campaign. While he hit only 13 home runs, he also cut his strikeout total to 68 and tied for 9th in the Pacific Coast League in batting average.

[edit] Stagnation


The next year, Bichette batted .267/~.301/.446 for Edmonton. While he reached double digits in every extra-base-hit category (29 doubles, 10 triples, 14 HR) and tied for the PCL lead in triples, an OPS around 747 was underwhelming in the offense-oriented PCL. He led the league with 22 outfield assists. He hit only .261/.240/.304 in a September call-up to the Angels with a pitiful 54 OPS+ for a corner outfielder. That earned him a return ticket to Edmonton in '89, where his production remained unimpressive at just .243/~.316/.455. He continued to fare poorly with the big club (.210/.240/.326 in 48 games).

[edit] A regular in MLB

Given a regular job in 1990 for California, Bichette batted .255/.292/.433. He had 15 homers and 12 outfield assists (two of which were double plays). His 102 OPS+ was okay, but not good for a starting corner outfielder and he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for fading slugging outfielder Dave Parker who would retire after the season.

Bichette lasted two seasons in Milwaukee, with production similar or worse than his 1990 campaign - .238/.272/.393 (a 84 OPS+) and .287/.318/.406 (104 OPS+).

In 1991, he won a game 6-5 with a two-run triple against the Minnesota Twins. That same season, he hit his first career grand slam against the Oakland Athletics.

[edit] Finding his heyday in Colorado

He then was shipped to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Kevin Reimer, who never returned to the majors after that season. It was in the thin air that Bichette really made his power mark, hitting at least 21 home runs each of his 6 seasons there. He was a consistent All-Star, making the team from 1994-1996 and 1998, and winning the 1995 Silver Slugger Award and finishing second in the NL MVP race. Despite routinely finishing among the league leaders in key offensive statistics, his OPS+es were generally below-average or average for his position, except for 1995. That year, he set a franchise record with a 23-game hitting streak, a record which stood until 2013 when Michael Cuddyer had a streak of 27 games. His road OPS was often under 700, indicating that Colorado's environment was dramatically inflating his statistics.

Bichette was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, then the Boston Red Sox in 2000. The Red Sox let him go after the 2001 season, and he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2002 season. However, in the middle of Spring Training he announced his retirement [1] to spend more time with his family.

[edit] Independent ball

After a two-year lay-off, Bichette returned to baseball in 2004 to play with the Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League. Bichette proved he still could hit, tearing up the league with 18 home runs and 54 RBI in 49 games, along with a line of .312/.370/.653. Still blessed with a strong arm, he even took a try with pitching, posting a 0-1 record and 12.00 ERA in 3 games (1 start) in 6 innings of work. He was featured in Sports Illustrated for this feat. Bichette did not make the league All-Star team or finish among the leaders in key offensive categories even at this low level of competition.

When asked why he returned to baseball, he said he couldn't get it out of his blood but had no intention of returning to the majors.

[edit] Post playing career

After his retirement as a player, Bichette focussed on coaching his son Dante Jr., who was selected in the supplemental first round of the 2011 amateur draft. He coached his son's team to an appearance in the Little League World Series in 2005 and later with Orangewood Christian High School. His younger son Bo was also a promising high school player thanks to his father's tutelage. He enjoyed the coaching experience so much that he accepted to return to the major leagues as hitting coach of the Rockies after his former teammate Walt Weiss was hired as the team's manager in 2013. Weiss's last job had also been as a coach in the high school ranks.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 4-time NL All-Star (1994-1996 & 1998)
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1995)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1995)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1994)
  • 2-time NL Hits Leader (1995 & 1998)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1995)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (1995)
  • NL RBI Leader (1995)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1993-2000)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1995, 1996 & 1999)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1995)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (1995-1999)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1995, 1996 & 1999)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1998)

[edit] Related Sites

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