Happy birthday to Julio Franco, who turns 52 today.
Franco, of course, is one of two Rangers to have won a batting title, with Michael Young being the other. Franco was dealt to Cleveland by the Phillies as part of a five-player package for outfielder Von Hayes, and ended up having a better career than Hayes. After breaking in as a shortstop, Franco ended up moving to second base, and then was one of three major acquisitions (along with Rafael Palmeiro and Nolan Ryan) Ranger g.m. Tom Grieve made prior to the 1989 season.
Franco was a sub-par defender at second base, and ended up moving to DH, dealt with injury issues, bounced around, went to Japan, and then came back to the United States and hung on into his late 40s in a part-time Manny Mota-type 1B/PH role.
One of the things that is interesting to me in looking at his numbers...Franco hit into a ton of double plays, even when he was young and still fast. Since batter GIDPs started being recorded, there have been 14 players who have hit into at least 20 GIDPs while stealing at least 30 bases in a season.
Only two players have done it more than once -- Julio Franco, and Vlad Guerrero.