Another player might be a little bitter, both with the hand he'd been dealt over the course of his career and with the lack of opportunity he received during a stellar 2008 season.
But not Dallas McPherson. He's not bitter about missing all of 2007 following back surgery, or chunks of 2004 and 2005, for that matter. Nor is he bitter about not getting a callup to the Marlins as he launched homer after homer for the Albuquerque Isotopes. As Crash Davis says in "Bull Durham," setting a home run record in the Minors can be best described as a dubious honor. But McPherson, who led all of Minor League Baseball with 42 homers this year to win the Round-Tripper Award, sees nothing negative in being so celebrated.
"That's not a goal I set out to try to do at the beginning of the year," McPherson said. "I'm just glad to get back on the field and put up numbers that I was putting up before all the injuries."
More than anything, that's what the 42 home runs signified for the third baseman -- that he was healthy and producing the way he once did when he was a top prospect in the Angels system. To honor his accomplishment, McPherson will receive the Joe Bauman Trophy and a check for $8,400 ($200 for each home run) at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas this December. But as much as the homers stand out, McPherson has to be just as proud of the 127 games and 448 at-bats.
"To be able to make it through the season with no back problems and no major injuries, it's been a real blessing," said McPherson, who last played this much in a single season back in his breakout 2004 campaign.
Still only 28, McPherson is just four years removed from the season in which he hit 40 homers, drove in 126 runs and hit .317 across two levels for the Angels, making his big-league deubt in September of that year. He signed a free-agent deal with the Marlins last offseason, got an invite to big-league camp and a chance to compete for the third-base job left vacant by the trade of Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers.
"I have a chance to be back on the field and that's huge," McPherson said in Spring Training. "Not being on the field for a year, having my career get sidetracked, [an opportunity] is all you can ask for."
It was Jorge Cantu who won the job and if a poll had been taken at the time, few would've guessed he'd hold the job all year, perhaps with McPherson getting a shot at some point if he produced down in Triple-A. McPherson did his part by hitting 10 homers in April, another seven in May and then exploding in June by hitting .356 with 11 round-trippers. He got to the All-Star break with 32 homers, generating some buzz about reaching the elusive No. 50 (he hit just 10 in the second half, however), but no call to the big leagues. That was through no fault of his own, but rather that Cantu looked a lot more like the guy who hit 28 homers and drove in 117 runs for the Rays back in 2005 than the one who lost his job and got traded.
"Everybody always wants to get called up," said McPherson, whose four at-bats in the bigs this September are the first he's had since 2006. "Obviously, they didn't feel the need at the time. Cantu's had a great year, [Mike] Jacobs has had a great year. Wes Helms has done a great job being the third corner guy. Obviously, there wasn't any room for me. I'm fine with that."