SB Nation is doing ‘Theme Weeks’ since we are lacking in baseball news. This week’s them is all things Marvel.
This is part two of three.
Originally introduced as a kind of throw-in during the Thor movie, Hawkeye made his major appearance in the Avengers film. It was appropriate that he starts off mind controlled by Loki, since Hawkeye in canon started as a villain and has occasionally regressed back to those ways. However, as an Avenger, he’s led the team numerous times and in numerous configurations over the years, despite not having super powers (I know, his ridiculous accuracy is otherworldly but they keep claiming it’s all talent).
MLB Counterpart: Daric Barton
Daric Barton was a heralded catching prospect for years in the St. Louis system before being traded along with two other players for Mark Mulder to the As. Over 8 seasons, despite a switch to first base after his defensive game failed to reach big league standards, Barton never reached the potential scouts saw in him. His remarkable eye and patience at the plate helped kept him in the lineup, but his power never emerged and he was pushed out by Brandon Moss. Barton signed a minor league deal with Toronto in 2015, but never made the big league club.
One of the founding members of the comic Avengers (under Hank Pym as Giant-Man), Ant-Man would have to wait until 2015 to be introduced into the MCU. Modeled around reformed criminal Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man, it marked the end of the Second Phase of the MCU, putting together almost all the final pieces needed to set up and complete the Infinity War climax of Phase Three. Interestingly, in the late 60s, creator Stan Lee started to step away from his role as writer/editor at Marvel to spearhead their television/film efforts in Hollywood. The first script he developed and believed to be the best shot for a first blockbuster for Marvel was Ant-Man.
MLB Counterpart: Bill Lange
Bill Lange is one of the greatest 19th century players not to make the Hall. An excellent centre fielder and hitter, Lange’s huge success at the plate was eclipsed by his sublime baserunning. In just seven seasons, Lange stole 400 bases, OPS+ 123, and finished with a bWAR of 23.1. Despite being at the prime of his career, Lange retired at the age of 28 in order to marry the daughter of a wealthy family who had forbade her from marrying a baseball player. After his career, Lange continued his association with baseball, scouting and encouraging baseball initiative in Europe and later part of the Board of Director for the YMCA.
One of the more surprising elements of the MCU was the escalation of formerly D-List heroes from the 70s-80s into major prominence as the Guardians of the Galaxy. The GOTG had been brought together in 2008 as a result of the Annihilation storyline, but James Gunn’s exploration of the fringe characters turned into a huge hit, and Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill was the face of the new franchise. Quill is originally the son of Ego the Living Planet (in the comics, it is J’son, King of Spartax), further elevating more ridiculous concepts from the ‘Cosmic Marvel’ comics history, from which the Infinity Gems themselves originate. Guardians was also the first to show an Infinity Stone in its true state and to hint towards Thanos’ plan and wider conspiracy for the first time, setting up the focus over the overall universe for the next 5 years.
MLB Counterpart: Lee Quillen
Quills are rare in MLB history. The closest is Lee Quillen, a back-up infielder for the Chicago White Sox in 1906-1907. Quillen had been considered an intriguing hitting prospect, signed out of the Midwest, there to backup the excellent but aging George Davis at short. Unfortunately, Quillen proved completely overmatched by major league pitching. His speed on the bases didn’t translate into anything beyond average at best defense at short or the hot corner. Davis and George Rohe, the third baseman, stayed healthy and productive through 1907, leaving Quillin and his sub-200 average to be release.
One of Marvel’s stranger characters, Rocket Raccoon originated in a Hulk issue in 1976, part of a trend of anthropomorphic satirical characters of the time like Howard the Duck. Rocket appeared in only 10 issues in his first 30 years of existence before being made part of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Since then, Rocket has proved one of the most popular members and was the only member other than Groot not to be killed or misted at the end of Infinity War. <Tom: Is this right? My memory is that Groot died after the snap>
MLB Counterpart: Pat Rockett
Pat Rockett is truly one of the most unique of players; a no hit, no glove shortstop. Drafted in 1973 by the Atlanta Braves, he advanced quickly up the organization to get his first cup of coffee in 1976. However, between 1977-1978, Rockett played in just 148 games and still posted a remarkable -5.5bWAR. He spent the next year in Atlanta’s AAA affiliate before being traded to the Blue Jays in 1980. He never appeared in a single MLB game with the Jays and his career ended following that year.
Spider-Man exists in that rare position like Superman of being the flagship of their comic company. Both have often been overshadowed by other, more popular characters over the years, both remain the most recognizable creation of their respective lines. In the case of Spider-Man, it was his utter unique nature at the time of having a non-mascot teen hero, without funding or outside help, having to juggle his duties with real life concerns of school, money and unpopularity. In the late 90s, Marvel sold the movie license to the X-Men and Spider-Man to Sony, and in Spider-Man’s case, resulted to two popular movie franchises, represented by Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield respectively. The newest films, a partnership between Sony and Marvel, was introduced in Avengers: Civil War when Tony Stark introduced him in the attempt to apprehend Captain America and his insurgents. Tom Holland has played Spider-Man in the last two movies and is set for a third, even though it may involve a departure of Spider-Man from the MCU.
MLB Counterpart: Dave Parker
There’s surprisingly less Parkers in MLB history than expected, so the choice settles on Dave Parker, the slugger that spanned two decades in baseball from the 70s and the 80s. Breaking in with Pittsburgh, the outfielder showed excellent numbers at the plate; a powerful mix of power and speed racking up doubles and triples along with solid home run totals. During his best year, 1978, Parker had his best season and won the MVP award. While he had a powerful arm and the reputation of a solid fielder, winning three Gold Gloves, Parker was a significantly below average defender his entire career, hurting his overall numbers. Surprising, considering the excellence of his bat and the deficiency of his glove, Parker only moved to the AL at the very end of his career, bouncing between Oakland,