Jack Of All Trades: Rusty Staub

In Gary Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla, we've seen that a very good player can be traded multiple times if he wears out his welcome. But baseball teams managed to trade Rusty Staub five different times – even though anyone who has ever met the man describes him as a terrific teammate and better human being.

And lest you think Staub wasn't a terrific player, his career OPS+ of 124 was better than that of current major leaguers Victor Martinez, Brad Hawpe, Carlos Beltran and Derrek Lee. Staub topped 130 OPS+ in eight seasons, with a season-high of 166 in 1969.

Let's run down Les Transactions of the man they called Le Grande Orange

  • Before ever donning a Mets uniform, Staub was indirectly involved in a huge part of their history. After six years in Houston, the Astros sent Staub to the Montreal Expos on January 22, 1969 for Jesus Alou and Donn Clendenon, but Clendenon refused to report to the Astros. Eventually, Montreal sent Jack Billingham, Skip Guinn and $100K in Clendenon's place. Then, in June of 1969, the Mets acquired Clendenon and he went on to become World Series MVP. However, Staub was by far the best player in that deal, as he hit .302/.426/.526 in 1969 and .274/.394/.497 in 1970.
  • After a similarly strong 1971, the Expos turned around and traded Staub to the New York Mets on April 5, 1972 for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton. It is hard to say the Mets got the better of this one, though Staub helped them to a National League pennant in 1973 and became the first Met to drive in more than 100 runs in 1975. But the Expos got their share of value, too. By 1973, Singleton was hitting .302/.425/.479, Jorgensen had a strong career as a multi-position hitter with pop and Foli was a strong glove man at short.
  • To be sure, that haul makes what the Mets got for Staub after the 1975 season look quite unimpressive. New York traded him with Bill Laxton for Billy Baldwin and Mickey Lolich on December 12, 1975. The big catch here was supposed to be Lolich, who had thrown a ridiculous number of innings, 1560.2, over his previous five seasons (including 376 in 1971! No, that isn't a typo). Surprise, surprise, the former Tiger great broke down in his first season with the Mets. Meanwhile, Staub posted an OPS+ of 117 in his four Detroit seasons, driving in 121 runs in 1978.
  • But with Staub 35 years old and hitting just .236/.331/.402, the Tigers decided to send him back to Montreal for career minor leaguer Randy Schafer and cash on July 20, 1979. His second stint in Montreal was much briefer, but also a success: he posted an OPS+ of 112 in 101 plate appearances.
  • Nevertheless, Montreal traded their beloved Rusty (whose number they eventually retired) to Texas on March 31, 1980 for a pair of brief major leaguers, Chris Smith and LaRue Washington. What Texas got was the last great Rusty Staub season: .300/.370/.459, good for an OPS+ of 129.

A season later, he was back with the Mets as a free agent, where he finished his career strong: a .276/.350/.391 line over 702 plate appearances in five seasons, primarily pinch-hitting. If only we all had such productive decline years.


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22 Comments on "Jack Of All Trades: Rusty Staub"


5 years 1 month ago

Hahaaaaaa, awesome.

Poor dude.

aap212
5 years 1 month ago

I love Rusty Staub, but using his OPS+ to compare him to a catcher and a stellar centerfielder is a little goofy. Staub is a beloved guy, and his bat gives him a chair in the Harold Baines Hall of Very Good. That’s enough.

Guest
5 years 1 month ago

interesting stat billman…griffey was close to being the 4th

5 years 1 month ago

My Favorite Met growing up… and one of the best pinch hitters ever..

johnsilver
5 years 1 month ago

Didn’t he have the mets record for games played at 1b for awhile back in the mid 70’s or some other record? maybe games played? i always remember that curly red hair of his though… yeah.. he was a good ball player..

5 years 1 month ago

You think Staub was abused, um, Dick Allen had a CAREER 156 OPS+ and was traded 5 times too.

5 years 1 month ago

You think Staub was abused, um, Dick Allen had a CAREER 156 OPS+ and was traded 5 times too.

jimboslice9
5 years 1 month ago

With all the stories I’ve heard about Staub, I wish I could be about 30 years older, just so I could see him play. Replays of tapes of Mets games from the sixties and seventies don’t really do anyone justice, and I just wish I could have seen the real thing.

I Want Rebates
5 years 1 month ago

Loved that no matter how cold it was at Shea or Jarry, he never wore long sleeves or batting gloves… Can’t imagine him with the suit of armor that Bonds wore…

I Want Rebates
5 years 1 month ago

Loved that no matter how cold it was at Shea or Jarry, he never wore long sleeves or batting gloves… Can’t imagine him with the suit of armor that Bonds wore…

5 years 1 month ago

Actually, the Expos didn’t retire Staub’s #10; they retired Andre Dawson’s #10 after he left.

5 years 1 month ago

Actually both #10 for Dawson and #10 for Staub are retired. They both played on the 1979 Expos but Stabb wore #6 that year.

5 years 1 month ago

Actually, the Expos didn’t retire Staub’s #10; they retired Andre Dawson’s #10 after he left.

Patrick Newman
5 years 1 month ago

Kudos on this series, I’m enjoying it. Can you guys do David Cone at some point? Coney got traded quite a bit for a pitcher of his caliber, at least until settling in with the Yankees in the mid-90’s.

Patrick Newman
5 years 1 month ago

Kudos on this series, I’m enjoying it. Can you guys do David Cone at some point? Coney got traded quite a bit for a pitcher of his caliber, at least until settling in with the Yankees in the mid-90’s.

hoopmatch
5 years 1 month ago

Since headline for this piece is “Jack of all trades,” it would be funny if you put together a companion piece called “Trade of all Jacks” in which a trade involving two or more players named Jack took place.

hoopmatch
5 years 1 month ago

Since headline for this piece is “Jack of all trades,” it would be funny if you put together a companion piece called “Trade of all Jacks” in which a trade involving two or more players named Jack took place.

bluejaysstatsgeek
5 years 1 month ago

This brings back memories of watching the Expos with my dad. Thank you.

shephill
5 years 1 month ago

Although his past as an Astro was nothing of mention in this article, as a very young (12 when they traded him) but budding baseball fan, I remember idolizing Rusty Staub. He was about the only Astro who made headlines, their only legit star. Being young, and having nothing like the internet to keep up with him after he left (except perhaps a baseball card), I never knew what he went on to accomplish. Great little article. Great memories. Thanks.

shephill
5 years 1 month ago

Although his past as an Astro was nothing of mention in this article, as a very young (12 when they traded him) but budding baseball fan, I remember idolizing Rusty Staub. He was about the only Astro who made headlines, their only legit star. Being young, and having nothing like the internet to keep up with him after he left (except perhaps a baseball card), I never knew what he went on to accomplish. Great little article. Great memories. Thanks.

Hondo33
4 years 9 months ago

Little trivia…when he was a Houston Colt ’45 he taught pitcher Hal Woodeshick how to throw a slider which helped resurrect the veteran pitcher’s career. What an amazing man!

todd70
4 years 2 months ago

I always told Rusty that instead of signing with the Mets in his later years as a pinch hitter, he needed to sign with Toronto and be their DH.  Rustry was loved in Canada, Toronto needed a DH and with an additional 1,000 at bats or so; Rusty would be extremely high up on all time records.  However, Rusty went to NY because he loved to cook and he could run his restaurant at 73rd and 3rd.