Sunday, October 9, 2011

#9 Joey McLaughlin

Card: This is Joey McLaughlin's fourth Topps card. His rookie card is in the 1980 set. 

Pic: McLaughlin is pictured here on the mound in Oakland. He appears to have what the biomechanic analysts call the Inverted W with his arms.  If you are interested in pitching mechanics check out the link.
McLaughlin with his beard and dour expression looks kind of like a digruntled plumber or cable guy.

Player: Drafted in the 2nd round in 1974 by the Altanta Braves, McLaughlin was a starter in the minors. In June of '77, 20 year old Joey made his MLB debut and got hit hard by the Phillies.  He pitched a couple of more games that year and was not back in the majors until '79.  McLaughlin had a good year out of the pen setting up for closer Gene Garber and getting an occasional save of his own.
After the season the Braves made a multi-player trade with the Blue Jays to bring McLaughlin north of the border.  He started the year in the pen and made ten starts but was more effective in a relief role.  McLaughlin led the Jays with ten saves in '81 sharing closer duties with Roy Lee Jackson.  The next year was another good one with 8 saves and a 3.21 ERA.  1983 was a disaster with more blown saves (11) than saves (9). The timing was poor since the Blue Jays finished with a winning record for the first time in franchise history.
In '84 McLaughlin tried to work his way out of the dog house.  Seeing action in non save situations he gave up only one run in his first nine innings of work.  Then in a May 12 game vs the Indians the wheels came off. McLaughlin gave up four runs in 1.2 innings and was released the next day.
Picked up by the Rangers, he pitched poorly in fifteen games and was released after the season.
McLaughlin pitched in AAA over the next three years for the A's and White Sox organizations but never made it back to the majors, retiring at age 31.

Stuff: High 80's fastball, knuckle-curve, slider, and change up

Flipside: Those ten saves in '81 were the first time a Jays pitcher reached double digits. McLaughlin earned back to back wins on June 18-19 with a total of seven K's and 4.2 innings of scoreless ball. That seems more noteworthy than some of the other highlights Topps chose.

Oddball: Joey isn't short for Joseph- his full name is Joey Richard McLaughlin. 
In the inset picture it appears that McLaughlin has a unibrow but upon further examination it is the frame of his glasses.

History: McLaughlin is remembered for his success in the Jays bullpen. McLaughlin was the Blue Jays all-time saves leader with 31 until Tom Henke obliterated the record ending up with 207.  His fall from glory seems so sudden having been trusted with closing duties from 1980 through most of 1983.  He was given a short leash in '84 and couldn't capture his old form.  With a mediocre fastball he didn't have much margin for error, and when he crashed he crashed hard.
McLaughlin is currently a high school pitching coach

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