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Roger Repoz

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Roger Allen Repoz

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Along with the more successful Bobby Murcer, Roger Repoz labored under media predictions that he would be the next Mickey Mantle while in the New York Yankees' farm system. Although Repoz was an impressive-looking athlete with good speed and considerable power, he was never able to hit for much of an average. Repoz held the record for lowest batting average by a major league outfielder with 2,000+ AB until Rob Deer broke it. As of 1999, he had the 18th lowest batting average among infielders or outfielders with over 2,000 AB. His OPS+ in the majors was a respectable 105, though.

Roger debuted in 1960 with the St. Petersburg Saints (.230, 3 HR, 21 RBI) and the Modesto Reds (.240, 1 HR, 4 RBI). In 1961, Repoz was with Modesto full-time, batting .287 with five homers and 59 RBI. The next season, at age 21, Roger hit just .225 with 5 HR and 53 RBI for the Augusta Yankees. In 1963, he batted only .221 but began to show power, with 20 homers for Augusta, placing him third in the South Atlantic League. By 1964, Repoz had made his way to AA with the Columbus Confederate Yankees. He batted .234 with 23 HR and 76 RBI for Columbus. He made his major league debut with a September call-up to the 1964 Yankees, where he was used almost exclusively as a defensive substitute in right field.

Repoz hit .287 with 14 HR and 38 RBI for the 1965 Toledo Mud Hens before joining the Yankees in late June. He batted .220/.298/.457 for the 1965 Yankees, showing good pop (12 HR in 218 AB) but striking out 57 times. After a strong start off the bench for the 1966 Yankees (.349/.396/.488), Repoz was dealt with Gil Blanco and Bill Stafford to the Kansas City Athletics for Fred Talbot and Billy Bryan. Playing regularly at first base and in center for the 1966 Athletics, Repoz disappointed with a .216/.314/.370 line. When he began the next year with a .241/.340/.402 start, Kansas City traded him to the California Angels for Jack Sanford and Jackie Warner. Roger's .250/.318/.398 line for the 1967 Angels looks unimpressive but in the heart of a pitcher's era, it represented a 115 OPS+. Overall, his OPS+ that year was 117.

In 1968, Repoz batted .240/.309/.371 for a 109 OPS+; his 13 homers tied for second on the club. His career imploded in 1969; with the low-scoring era ending, he only hit .164/.270/.288 and only was 3 for 25 as a pinch-hitter. During the 1970 campaign, Repoz bounced back, producing at a .238/.317/.442 rate with a career-high 18 HR, second on the club behind Jim Fregosi. His OPS+ was 111. In the major leagues, he went from June 6, 1967 to May 24, 1970 without grounding into a double play. That stretch covered 347 games and 1,018 plate appearances; both figures are believed to be all-time records, with the caveat that GIDPs have not been studied as extensively as some other statistics.

Repoz was nicknamed "The Destroyer" during his years with the Angels due to his tendency to destroy dugout water coolers after strikeouts. [citation needed]

At age 30, Roger hit .199/.333/.374 for the 1971 Angels but his combination of walks and power again kept his OPS+ over 100 (107) and he was the top offensive force in the California outfield. He only went 1 for 3 with the 1972 Angels, spending most of his time with the Salt Lake City Angels, hitting .213/~.356/.434 in 42 games, with 7 HR and 36 K in 122 AB. He was then traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Jerry Davanon. Finishing the year with the Rochester Red Wings, Repoz batted .251/~.366/.485 with 13 homers and 55 strikeouts in 227 AB.

Roger moved to Japan in 1973, signing with the Taiheiyo Club Lions and hitting .220/.312/.430. The next year, he joined the Yakult Swallows. He batted .232/.331/.486 for the 1974 club with 25 homers. In 1975, he made the Best Nine with a .292/.373/.527 season, smashing 27 home runs to go with his new-found contact hitting. He joined Hiroaki Inoue and Koji Yamamoto in being honored as the top three outfielders in the Central League. That year, he also hit the 15,000th homer in CL history, doing so on May 18.

At age 35, the veteran produced at a .274/.374/.571 clip in 1976, crushing 36 home runs, driving in 81 and scoring 79. He fell to .263/.328/.490 in 1977 with 22 HR and it would be his final season. In either 1976 or 1977, Repoz, Clyde Wright and Charlie Manuel fought the East German hockey team in a Japanese club after the hockey players had been hassling a woman there. The Americans got the worse part of the brawl.

Overall, he had hit .262/.349/.512 in 526 games in Nippon Pro Baseball, with 122 HR.

His son, Craig Repoz, played professional from 1985 to 1990.

Sources include Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, 1973 Baseball Guide, Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, Remembering Japanese Baseball by Rob Fitts

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