Monday, October 15, 2012

#227 Chris Bando - Cleveland Indians

This is the second card in a row featuring a player who had an older, more successful brother.  Chris Bando, the younger brother of Sal, seems to be flirting with the camera in the cameo picture.  I don't recall if this was a highly sought after card in 1983 or not, but nevertheless, it is Bando's rookie card. 

Player:  Chris Bando was a switch-hitting catcher who played in the majors from '81-'89.  Drafted in the 2nd round out of baseball hot bed Arizona State University in 1978, the Indians had high expectation for Bando.  After back to back .300+ seasons in the minors he was given a call up in August of '81 and he hit .213 in 47 at bats.  The Indians used Bando as a reserve catcher in '82, getting him at bats against lefties when Ron Hassey needed a day off.  Bando failed to take advantage of the opportunity and posted a .212/.299/.304 stat line in 212 plate appearances. 

Bando didn't play much in '83 as he batted .256 with four homers in 121 at bats.  He failed to make the Indians opening day roster in '84 and started the year back in the minors.  Perhaps it was a wake up call, since upon his return in June he hit .291/.377/.505 with 12 HR in 260 plate appearances. 

Bando's fine performance over the second half of the '84 season helped him earn the starting job in '85 but he quickly lost it with a 1 for 25 start to the season.  In fact his average was below .100 as late as July 30.  He raised it to .139 by the end of the season but even his moderate power disappeared as he failed to homer in 199 plate appearances.

By all accounts the '86 season was a make or break year for Bando and he hit .268 as he split time with up-and-comer Andy Allanson.  Bando regressed to .218 in '87 and spiraled down to .125 the next year.  Finally the Indians gave up on Bando and released him in August of '88.  He was picked up by Detroit but played just one inning for the Tigers.

Bando returned to the minors in '89 and appeared just once more in the majors, getting a hit in two at bats for the A's in October of '89.  He retired with a .227/.300/.329 line in nine seasons. 

Flipside:  At first glance Bando's 1980 season in the minors seems pretty impressive.  He hit .349 with a .530 slugging percentage.  It helps to know that Bando was 24 years old at the time and a bit "old" for AA.  Besides it was his third year in a row at Chattanooga.

Oddball:  Chris and Sal Bando's major league careers barely overlapped.  Sal, who is 12 years older, rounded out his career with the Brewers in 1981.  Chris' MLB debut was on 8/13/81 against the Brewers, but Sal did not play, and they never played in the same game.

History:  Bando never filled the expectations of a 2nd round pick.  In all fairness he suffered through some injuries early in his minor league career which slowed his progress. His defensive was more than adequate but other than his 1984 half season, he struggled to hit.  He is currently the manager at San Diego Christian College.

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