Tuesday, February 6, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #99: Jody Reed

Jody Reed, 2B, #3 (1987 - 1992)

715 games, 743 hits, .280 avg, .357 obp, .372 slg

Jody Reed was a scrappy middle infielder known for his defensive prowess and a solid bat that contributed to Boston’s pennant winning clubs in 1988 and 1990.

Selected by the Red Sox in the 8th round of the 1984 draft out of Florida State, Reed hit .289 in four minor league seasons and arrived in Boston for good on September 12, 1987, when he pinch ran for Pat Dodson in the 9th inning of a 4-3 Red Sox victory over the Orioles at Fenway.

The baby-faced Reed was impressive in the limited action he saw in his late-season 1987 call-up, highlighted by a 3-for-6 performance in his first start, when Reed batted leadoff in the second game of a September 18th doubleheader at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

Reed made the Opening Day roster in 1988, but served as veteran Spike Owen’s back up at shortstop until Joe Morgan replaced John McNamara as manager during the All-Star break. Walpole Joe worked his magic on the ’88 squad, which wound up winning the AL East, and one of his first decisions was to replace Owen at short with the 25-year old kid from Tampa.

Reed, all 5'9" and 165 pounds of him, didn’t waste the opportunity and rewarded Boston’s new skipper with solid defense and a .293 average. Furthermore, Reed excelled at making contact, striking out just 21 times in 338 at-bats.

Reed finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1988 and his best years as a Red Sox lay directly ahead.

Reed excelled in Boston from 1989-1991, when he appeared in an average of 151 games and hit in the .280s all three seasons. He mastered the art of the “Wall Ball” double at Fenway Park, and his 45 doubles led the AL in 1990, when Reed had the best year of his career (finishing 18th in MVP balloting) while pacing the Red Sox to another AL East title.

Reed also made history in 1990, albeit in an infamous manner, in a game against the Twins on July 17 when he grounded into a triple play in the 8th inning. Four innings earlier, Tom Brunansky had also grounded into a triple play, making the notoriously slow-footed Red Sox the only team in Major League history to hit into two triple plays in one game.

Because of his below average arm, Reed was moved from short to second base during the ’90 season, and his last two years in Boston were spent as the team’s every day second basemen. His final season in Boston was the only subpar one of his tenure with the Red Sox, who decided to leave him exposed in the expansion draft.

In reality, Reed was left unprotected by the Red Sox for two reasons: his declining offensive production – he hit just .247 in 1992 – and his salary, which was $1.6 million in his final year in a Red Sox uniform.

And so on November 17, 1992 Reed was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the 13th pick in the expansion draft, and thus his time in Boston was over after appearing in 715 games in six seasons, during which he hit .280 and got on base at a .357 clip.

Reed never got a chance to play in Denver, as the Rockies shipped him to Los Angeles immediately after they drafted him. Reed performed well in his one season in Dodger Blue, hitting .276 and making only 5 errors, but he'll always be remembered for turning down a 3-year, $7.8 million contract to stay in LA.

On the advice of his agent/brother-in-law Reed declined the Dodgers' offer, assuming there would be larger offers on the free agent market.

As it turned out, not another team in the Major Leagues was interested in Jody Reed's services, and he was forced to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers for the league minimum at the start of Spring Training in 1994.

After a good season in Milwaukee, Reed spent a pair of years in San Diego and closed out his career in 1997 with a season spent mostly on the bench for Detroit, where he hit just .196.

For more on the life and career of Jody Reed, visit Red Sox Connection.


Allen said...

Nit: The profile has Jody Reed in Milwaukee in 2004 rather than 1994.

RedSoxConnect said...

Thanx. I fixed that. Also, Reed wore # 52 in 1987.

Henrietta said...

Pretty worthwhile piece of writing, much thanks for the post.

Harald said...

Thank you for reviving memories of this great player