September is a weird baseball month. There are big, important pennant races going on, while at the same time, rosters expand and (apologies to them) a lot of not-as-good players get to come up and play. Even though a lot of less memorable players get to make appearances, the whole pennant race thing can sometime make players more memorable than if they had come up in another month.
Q: September is here. Who have been your favorite September call-ups and/or late season performances?
It's tough to remember which guys made a big impact with their September call ups, but I have to say that my favorite recent call up doesn't go back quite that far. Based on the amount of anticipation behind this call up, as well as how admirably he performed during that September and the fact that he was traded away just that off-season, I have to go with Jesus Montero in 2011. Montero was one of the most hyped Yankees prospects of recent memory, and then hit .328/.406/.590 in 69 September plate appearances. Could we, as fans, have asked for more from the kid? He had us with stars in our eyes, envisioning another retired number, a plaque in monument park and who knows what else in the years to come? Instead, the Yankees exploited his great month, dealt him for Pineda and we all have watched his career plummet to the depths of baseball humanity. For that month though, he was the man. That's why he's my favorite September call up.
Jesus Montero was so much fun when he came up. Oh Jesus... we hardly knew ye. -hugs Big Mike-
I was once pretty excited about Ruben Rivera. As a 22-year-old and Baseball America's #3 prospect in 1996, he came up in late August (after filling in briefly for an injured Bernie Williams earlier in the year) and hit .284/.381/.443, looking like he might live up to his "Panamanian Mickey Mantle" billing. His top moment that year was a 10th inning walk-off single against the Orioles when Baltimore was inching dangerously close to the AL East lead.
Unfortunately it was also his top moment ever, unless you count his participation in "the worst baserunning in the history of the game." Things went horribly wrong, horribly quickly and I learned a hard lesson about the fickleness of prospects.
This will probably be a pretty unoriginal answer but I'd have to go with Jesus Montero in 2011. If he didn't come up and tear the cover off the ball in the month of September, there's no guarantee the Yankees get Michael Pineda, who has shown flashes of being an ace for years to come.
Shane Spencer's September for the ages in 1998. For the month he slashed .421/.476/1.105, hit 8 home runs and drove in 21 runs.He also set the bar impossibly high for himself and never approached that territory again. It was fun while it lasted though.
Shane Spencer in 1998 is probably the natural answer here. My favourite September call-up though might actually be Jesus Montero -who hit .328 with four home runs in 2011 - mostly because that performance could have been the difference in landing Michael Pineda. After picking up the touted Justin Smoak in 2010, who hadn't yet hit all that much, Jack Z may have decided this time to go for a prospect with some, if minimal, major league track record in return for his rookie fireballer.
My favorite is a story that I've told before and comes from someone who is way less relevant than even Jesus Montero. While he had been up earlier in the season, Greg Golson reappeared with the Yankees in September 2010. He appeared mainly as a late inning defensive replacement, as he did on September 14. In the bottom of the 10th with one out in the inning, the Yankees led the Rays by one run. Mariano Rivera was pitching and Matt Joyce was at the place. Joyce popped one out to right field. It was shallow but it was way over towards the line and looked to be a safe enough distance for speedy Carl Crawford to tag up and go to third. However, Golson unleashed a monster throw to get Crawford at third and end the game. Golson wound up on the 2010 playoff roster and briefly played for the Yankees in 2011. Unfortunately for him, his throw on September 14, 2010 was probably the only real highlight from his career.
Those are our answers and now we want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite September call up performances?