Saturday, November 5, 2011

#33 Jack O'Connor

Card: This is O'Connor's second Topps card.  He had his first card in the '82 set and his last card in the '84 set.

Picture:  Judging by inward rotation of O'Connor's left arm I'd say he just threw a screwball or turned over a circle change.  The hat in the inset pic looks like someone dropped in on his head just moments before.
Player:  Jack O'Connor was a ninth round pick of the Montreal Expos in the 1976 draft.  The 6'3" lefty spent the next five seasons working his way up to AAA.  While having his ups and downs, O'Connor put together a decent year in 1980.  While working at three different levels, O'Connor compiled a 10-8 record with a 3.28 ERA while giving up only 138 hits in 173 innings.  The Twins nabbed O'Connor in the Rule-V draft from the Expos in the winter of '80.

The Twins hid O'Connor in their bullpen all of '81 as he appeared in only 28 games, usually in low pressure situations. O'Connor wasn't ready for the majors walking 30 and giving up 46 hits in 35 innings with a hefty 5.86 ERA.

O'Connor broke camp with the Twins in '82 but was sent back down in April to stretch out his arm for the rotation.  O'Connor was called up in June and had mixed results in 19 starts.  At times O'Connor struggled mightily, twice failing to get out of the first inning.  Other times O'Connor showed excellent stamina with six complete games.  O'Connor finished 8-9 with a 4.29 ERA. 

O'Connor split the 1983 season between the Twins and AAA Toledo.  O'Connor worked long relief and made a few spot starts for the Twins.  O'Connor was hit hard with the big club with a 5.86 ERA in 83 innings.  The Twins made O'Connor a full time reliever in '84 and he spent all but two games in Toledo.  The Twins traded O'Connor to the Expos in January of '85 for Dan Stenhouse.

O'Connor started the year at AAA Indianapolis but was called up in June.  O'Connor pitched in 20 games with a 4.94 ERA.  In O'Connor's defense 8 of the 13 earned runs he allowed were in a spot start.  In his relief appearances he posted a 2.05 ERA and gave up only 13 hits in 22 innings.

O'Connor was released by the Expos in spring training before the '86 season.  O'Connor was picked up by the Mariners and sent to AAA Calgary.  O'Connor was beaten like a drum with an 8.82 ERA in 32 innings and found himself out of work. 

When 1987 rolled around the Baltimore Orioles took a chance on O'Connor and put him in the bullpen in AAA Rochester.  O'Connor did well and was called up in May.  In Baltimore, O'Connor struggled, giving up 13 runs in 16 innings earning himself a demotion back to the bushes.  O'Connor waited his time and was recalled in August.  This time O'Connor fared much better surrendering nine runs in 30 innings.  For the year O'Connor worked 46 innings with a 4.30 ERA.

O'Connor was let go by the Orioles and signed on with the Blue Jays organization.  O'Connor spent the next two years pitching at AAA Syracuse with a 4.11 and 2.84 ERA in the '88 and '89 seasons.  That would be O'Connor's last action in pro ball.

Flipside:  O'Connor struggled with his control throughout his career. Through the '82 season he had 87 walks to 72 strikeouts. 

Oddball:  Batters hit .278 lifetime against O'Connor.  For some reason 9th place batters hit .305 against O'Connor him.

History:  O'Connor was a typical journeyman lefty.  He pitched better as a relief pitcher (4.30 ERA) than as a starter (5.52).
Had he been born 25 years later he may have been able to stick around as a stituational left hander since teams keep two or three more pitchers on staff than they did in the 80's

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