Former Blue Jays’ first baseman Lyle Overbay turns 41 today.
Lyle came up to the majors with the Diamondbacks, he played a handful of games in 2001 and 2002 before making the Diamondbacks out of spring training in 2003, after being listed as Baseball America’s 65th best prospect. He didn’t do great and was sent back to the minors after playing in 86 games. In December of 2003 he was sent to the Brewers as part of a 10 player trade. The big name, going to the Diamondbacks, was slugger Richie Sexson. Sexson only played 21 games for the Diamondbacks, in an injury filled 2004.
Overbay played two seasons for the Brewers before being traded to the Jays with Ty Taubenheim for Dave Bush, Gabe Gross and Zach Jackson. Bush won 46 games (while losing 53) over 5 seasons, Gross played a bit hitting .251/.357/.440 in parts of 3 seasons and Jackson pitched 42 innings, for the Brewers, so the trade could be counted as slightly to the win side for J.P. Riccairdi. And, considering Eric Hinske played first for us in 2005, Lyle was a step up at the position.
The trade was the subject of the second post ever on Bluebird Banter. Marc Normandin liked the trade:
He’s a great defensive first basemen, one of the best in the league. He hits well for a first basemen, although he lacks home run power. He makes up for it with doubles though, and his plate patience is good. Acquiring Overbay most likely means that Shea Hillenbrand or Eric Hinske is on their way out of Toronto. The good news? The Jays may actually get a useful part in exchange for one of them, which would be a plus.
Lyle had a pretty good first season for us, he hit .312/.372/.508 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI in 157 games in 2006. He set his career high for home runs, RBI and batting average, as well as finishing 4th in the AL in doubles with 46.
After the season J.P. signed Lyle to a 4-year, $24 million contract. The contract didn’t help make him a favorite with Jays fans. mark w had mixed feelings about the signing, at the time, in his BBB post about it:
My views are on this signing are rather mixed. At first glance, it appears to be a thrifty signing, as the Blue Jays lock up a somewhat gifted hitter at a relatively cheap price. On the other hand, however, couldn’t the Blue Jays have waited another season, thus hedging their bets? I can’t imagine that Overbay’s value will skyrocket at this point of his career, especially considering he’s a likely candidate to “age quickly” -- at least based on the career trends of statistically similar players from the past. In the end, I don’t think this contract will come back to bite them, if only because of its low cost to the organization. And Overbay appears to be a safe bet for at least the next 2-3 years.
Well, it did come back to bite them.
2007 wasn’t a good a year for Lyle. He missed more than a month with a broken hand, after being hit by a John Danks pitch June 3. He was hitting .256/.332/.464 when he was hit, but finished the season .240/.315/.391 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI. It’s pretty had to hit ball when your hand is hurting. He did manage to hit 30 doubles. Lyle had a big reverse split, that year, having a .794 OPS vs. LHP but just .676 against RHP.
Lyle bounced back a little, in 2008, hitting .270/.358/.419 with 15 homers, 32 doubles and 69 RBI in 158 games. He set a team record for getting on base 12 straight times at the end of May. Unfortunately, he couldn’t hit lefties at all, batting just .215/.285/.255 against them. It was the start of a bad trend, before 2008 he was able to hit lefties, at least not too badly, after, he couldn’t.
Overbay had a pretty good 2009, hitting .265/.372/.466 with 16 home runs (including his first walkoff homer against the A’s in April), 35 doubles and 64 RBI in 132 games. Fangraphs credited him with a 2.4 WAR, the best in his time with the Jays. They liked his fielding much better than back in 2006. He hit just .190/.256/.278 against left-handers (his platoon partner was Kevin Millar, who didn’t hit lefties all that much better that year).
2010 was Lyle’s last year with the Jays, and it wasn’t very good, he hit .243/.329/.433, with 20 home runs (his second highest total in his career), 37 doubles (his 7th consecutive season with 30 doubles) and 67 RBI. He played in 154 games, Cito wouldn’t platoon him as he was a free agent after the season (Cito had some strange ideas, as a often he was more interested in ‘doing right’ by his veteran players than doing what was needed to win games). On defense, Lyle lead AL first basemen in double plays (150) and assists (101). He had the 1000th hit of his career at the end of June.
After leaving the Jays, Lyle has bounced around, playing for the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Braves, Yankees and Brewers. He retired after the 2014, finishing with a .266/.347/.429 line, 151 home runs and 675 RBI in 14 seasons. 83 home runs and 336 RBI were as a Blue Jays.
Happy Birthday Lyle. Even though your time with the Jays wasn’t a huge success, but I still liked you. I do wonder how much better his offensive numbers would have been if he hadn’t broken his hand.
It is also Bob File’s birthday, he’s also 41. Bob came up as a reliever with the Jays and had a very good rookie season, in 2001, putting up a 3.27 ERA in 60 relief appearances, 74.1 innings, but there was some luck involved. He only struck out 38 and walked 29. The .233 BABIP wasn’t something that was repeatable. Over the next two seasons he pitched 37 innings, with a 6.08 ERA and that was the end of his major league career.
Happy birthday Bob, hope it is a good one.