Aug 31, 2014

Former Mets Out Fielder: Marlon Byrd (2013)

 Marlon Jerrard Byrd was born on August 30th, 1977 in Boynton Beach, Florida.

The six foot right hand hitting outfielder attended Georgia Perimeter College at Marietta Georgia.

He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th round of the 1999 draft. 

By 2001 he was voted the second best prospect (behind Josh Beckett by Baseball America, winning the MVP while joining Jeromy Burnitz in the 30-30 club of the Eastern League. In 2002 he made his fourth minor league All Star team, hitting .297 leading the International League in runs (103) extra base hits (59) & total bases (256) while at AAA Scranton. 

That September he got a call up to the Phillies big league club, joking second baseman Marlon Anderson as the only two major leaguers ever to have Marlon as a first name.

In 2003 the Phillies were hoping Byrd was the word, as he got a regular job in their outfield. In 135 games he hit .303 with 7 HRs & 45 RBIs posting a .366 on base %, coming in fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

But the next season he fell to a .228 batting average, with five HRs & 33 RBIs. In 2005 he struggled through injuries & found himself traded to the Washington Nationals for Endy Chavez. He was a reserve outfielder for Washington in 2006 batting just .223 & was let go to free agency at the end of the year.

In 2007 he signed on with the Texas Rangers having the best years of his career. He hit .307 with 10 HRs & 70 RBIs his first season at Arlington with the 4th place Rangers. He put up similar numbers the next year then followed with his best season in 2009.

That year he had career highs in doubles (43) RBIs (89) & hit 20 HRs, for Ron Washington's second place Rangers. His ten sac flies were most in the league & his ten hit by pitches were seventh. He won Player of the Week honors for the week of September 27th, 2009. 

In the outfield he turned a league leading four double plays posting a .991 fielding %. He was granted free agency, signing with the Chicago Cubs in a three year deal.

He hit .293 with 12 HRs as the Cubs best hitter in 2010, playing in 153 games, making his only All Star team. His outfield play was very good, posting a .992 fielding % (3rd in the NL for center fielders).

In 2011 he got off to a hot start, but was hit with apitch below the batting elmet flap suffering multiple fractures. He returned to play in 199 games, batting .276 with nine HRs & 35 RBIs, making eight assists in the outfield (3rd most in the NL).

In 2012 he was hitting .070 after 13 games & was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.

Overall he hit .210 in 47 games and was released by mid June. On top of having no team, he was suspended for 50 games for violating MLB's policy on PEDs. It looked as though the 35 year old was finished, but in February he was given a minor league contract by the New York Mets.

He had a great Spring Training and with outfield positions open to the best producers that March, he won the right field position on Terry Collins Mets team.

Byrd got the Opening Day start in right field batting in the fifth position. He was to surprise everyone with his all around play & be one of the brightest spots in the Mets '13 offense.

On April 7th, he came to bat with one out, with runners on second & third, with the Mets down 3-2 to the Miami Marlins. He delivered with a two run walk off single, scoring Ruben Tejada & Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

On April 13th he hit his first HR of the season, coming at Target Field in Minnesota, during the game Matt Harvey took a no hitter into the 7th inning.

By May, Byrd developed into one of the top hitters on the Mets club, hitting five HRs driving in ten runs. In the late May subway series sweep over the A.L. New York team, Byrd hit HRs in back to back games, driving in four runs.

On June 5th, he hit two HRs in the 10-1 win over the Nats in Washington D.C. During the mid June home stand he hit three HRs in a five day span coming in wins against the St. Louis Cardinals & Chicago Cubs.

On June 16th, he led off the bottom of the 9th inning with a HR, against the Cubs. The Mets were down 3-0 but went on to win after his HR & a three run walk off HR by Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

On June 27th with the Mets down 2-1 to the Colorado Rockies, Byrd hit an 8th inning two run HR off Matt Belisle leading to the -2 Mets win.

From July 6th through July 21st, Byrd got on another hot streak with 17 hits, hitting five HRs while driving in 15 runs. He raised his average twenty points in the month, hitting safely in all but two games the entire month as well with 14 multi hit games.

On July 9th in San Francisco, he hit a grand slam HR off Jake Dunning, breaking the game open as the Mets went on to a 10-5 victory over the Giants & a series sweep of the reigning world champs. 

On July 29th, his RBI single scoring Daniel Murphy tied up a game in Miami 5-5. He would score on Ike Davis' double. As the Mets went on to the 6-5 win. After such a strong July, he fell off in early August, not hitting a HR since July 21st.

On the August West Coast road trip, he hit three more HRs matching his career high of twenty for the season. Byrd drove in eight runs on the road trip with 16 hits, getting his average up to .290.

Through August 26th, he was leading the team in HRs with 21 (ahead of David Wright) & RBIs (71).

He was second in triples (5) which was 9th most in the NL, slugging (.518) & doubles (26). He was third on the club in hits (121).

He also has struck out over 100 times, in the league's top ten in K's & has six sac flies (6th most in the NL). In the outfield he has seven assists.

It was reported on August 27th that he was claimed on waivers by an anonymous team. That same day he was traded along with John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for infield prospect; Dilson Herrera.

The Pirates were having their best season in decades & the excitement in the Steel City for baseball was at a peak. In his first game in Pittsburgh he hit a HR in the 7-1 Pirate win over the Milwaukee Brewers, welcome Marlon Byrd.

On September 14th, his 7th inning HR was the game winner off the Cubs; Scott Baker. He closed out the season with a HR on the last day & drove in two runs in each of the last two games in a crucial series against the Cincinnati Reds, in which the Pirates took two of three.

Post Season: After a long career, Byrd was playing in his first post season. In the NL Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds, he had two hits including a HR off Johnny Cueto in the 2nd inning, helping the Bucs to a 6-2 win. In the NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he went hitless in five games. 

In the off season he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies & got himself a steady job in the outfield. His defense improved considerably & he put together his second straight solid offensive season as well.

By the All Star break he had 18 HRs & drove in over fifty runs.Through the end of August he was the Phillies leading HR hitter (23) & played in the most games of any player on the club. Byrd was second in RBIs (72) doubles (23) & runs scored (64).

In his 13 year career he is hitting .279 with 129 HRs 276 doubles 605 RBIs & a .334 on base % in 1375 games played (thru 8/20/14).

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