Thursday, April 27, 2006

Billy Ashley

"There isn’t a ballpark that can hold him,” Los Angeles Dodgers’ General Manager Fred Claire once boasted of Billy Manual Ashley.

Unfortunately for the 6-foot-7, 227 pound Ashley, there wasn’t a breaking ball he could hit.

Ashley was the King of K; the Sultan of the Strikeout. He whiffed so often that he made Reggie Jackson and Dave Kingman look like contact hitters. Some Dodger fans swear that an umpire once called Ashley out on strikes while he was standing on the on-deck circle, waiting for his turn to bat.

During his career, Ashley struck out a whopping 236 times in 618 at bats. That’s one K every 2.61 at bats.

Yes, he also belted some home runs. Actually, 28 of them, or one every 22.1 at bats. But, the few bombs he hit hardly justified all of the strikeouts he piled up.

And to top it all off, Ashley was a hack in the field. He was a slow, lumbering giant who had abolutely no range or defensive skills.

Originally selected by Los Angeles in the third round of the 1988 amateur draft, Ashley was voted USA Today Minor League Player of the Year in 1994 after batting .345 with 37 round-trippers and 105 RBI in 107 games for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Ashley played in the big leagues for parts of six seasons with the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. He enjoyed his greatest success in 1996 when he clubbed an NL best five pinch-hit home runs and nine overall.


[1] Beaton, Rod. "L.A. Has High Hopes for Prospect." USA Today; September 13, 1994.


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