Flashback: Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni Profile

Monday August 15, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Today we are taking a walk down memory lane to revisit one of our favorite players of all time.  Steve Balboni, or better known to baseball fans as “Bye Bye” Balboni, was one of the prominent home run hitters of the 1980s.  Balboni was an all or nothing hitter, either launching home runs or striking out at a high clip throughout his career.  In the likeness of Rob Deer at the time and Mark Reynolds today, Balboni was the type of hitter that we do not often see in the majors anymore.  Always want fun to watch and having left us with memories of moon shots off his bat, today we look back at the career of Bye Bye Balboni.

Balboni played for four major league teams over his eleven MLB seasons:  the Yankees, Royals, Mariners and Rangers.  His power numbers over his career speak for themselves: 

Year Tm HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1981 NYY 0 2 1 4 .286 .375 .714
1982 NYY 2 4 6 34 .187 .228 .280
1983 NYY 5 17 8 23 .233 .295 .430
1984 KCR 28 77 45 139 .244 .320 .498
1985 KCR 36 88 52 166 .243 .307 .477
1986 KCR 29 88 43 146 .229 .286 .451
1987 KCR 24 60 34 97 .207 .273 .427
1988 TOT 23 66 24 87 .235 .277 .448
1988 KCR 2 5 1 20 .143 .156 .270
1988 SEA 21 61 23 67 .251 .298 .480
1989 NYY 17 59 25 67 .237 .296 .460
1990 NYY 17 34 35 91 .192 .291 .406
                 
1993 TEX 0 0 0 2 .600 .600 .600
11 Seasons 181 495 273 856 .229 .293 .451
162 Game Avg. 31 84 46 144 .229 .293 .451
               
KCR (5 yrs) 119 318 175 568 .230 .294 .459
NYY (5 yrs) 41 116 75 219 .214 .286 .415
TEX (1 yr) 0 0 0 2 .600 .600 .600
SEA (1 yr) 21 61 23 67 .251 .298 .480

 

One may have expected Balboni to have more than 181 career home runs over his career.  Consider though that over his eleven seasons, Balboni only played one full season (1985).  In the Royals World Series championship year, Balboni was at his peak.  He had a career high 36 home runs, to go along with his league leading 166 strikeouts.  Balboni only had 400 or more at-bats in four major league seasons.  Despite only having one full season of at-bats under his belt, Balboni had six or more seasons for of 20+ home runs.  But it was not the memory of the number of home runs or strikeouts that Balboni that has lasted with us.  It was the way he came to the plate and swung completely for the fences. 

When Bye Bye Balboni connected for home runs, the sound of the ball launching off his bat was a thing of beauty.  At 6’3″ and 225 lbs, Balboni was built like a tank.  The bat looked like a toothpick in his hands and when he saw a fastball that was to his liking, the ball was either going to end up out of the yard or in the catcher’s mitt.  A fan favorite wherever he played, Balboni was the picturesque cleanup hitter of the 80s.  With a career .229 AVG and .293 OBP, Balboni was not a “moneyball” type player by a stretch of the imagination.  But the 80s were a different time in baseball and Balboni fit the mold in his day.  The power hitting first baseman/DH.  A one-dimensional player (home runs and strikeouts), but a great deal of fun to watch for the fans.

Today’s game is built on young, athletic players with multiple-tools.  As we have left the steroid era, MLB teams are shifting towards teams built on strong pitching, defense and speed.  The 1B/DH types like David Ortiz and Travis Hafner are starting to disappear, as American League teams shift to using the designated hitter spot to rotate players rather than employing a full-time DH.  As a result, we are unlikely to see many more Bye Bye Balboni’s in the major leagues again.  Valentino Pascucci was the closest player that I could think of that resembled a modern-day Balboni.  But in today’s game, Pascucci has barely received a cup of coffee at the majors, while Balboni enjoyed eleven seasons in the big leagues.

Bye Bye Balboni got to live the major league dream.  He was a second round pick of the Yankees in 1978 and played five seasons in New York.  Balboni was also quite a legend in his day in the minor leagues, assembling 239 career minor league home runs, together with 930 strike outs.  Balboni was named MVP of the Florida State League in 1979 and 1980 in the Southern League.  Today, Bye Bye Balboni continues his career as a coach, with different organizations in the minors.  You can learn more about Steve Balboni by visiting his website, http://stevebalboni.com.

One of the players of his generation that will stick out in our minds forever, we thank Bye Bye Balboni for the home runs he hit and the excitement he brought to the game during every one of his at-bats.  While the game has evolved to new levels, there is a part of us that will miss the burly sluggers in the game in the Bye Bye Balboni mold that are no longer with us.   Thank you for the memories Steve and for the home runs! 

If you have a favorite Steve Balboni moment or story, we would love to hear from you.  Please leave your comments at the bottom of this article.

 

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Posted on August 15, 2011, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. WOW!! A blast from the past!! I remember watching him play in KC the year he had 166 strike outs. He was one of those players who hit a HR or had a K… and not much else. What a swing he had. I remember playing in a high school game one time in 1986 and wanted to be like him. I even had the swing…Great article. Keep up the great work.

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