Like a couple of my other posts, this one was suggested to me by a student. When this student suggested doing a piece on Gary Gaetti my first reaction was to say, no way. I remember Gaetti being a power-hitting third baseman who could pick it at the hot corner. However, when this student cited Gaetti’s hilarious early-eighties mustache, I had to look a bit deeper. So, upon further review, Gary Gaetti is officially mediocre.
Gaetti was drafted out of college in 1979 and was a first round pick by the Minnesota Twins. He made his debut in 1981 and played his first full season in 1982. Right away, Gaetti set the style of play we would see for his entire career. The power numbers were there and they were impressive. The 23-year-old rookie blasted 25 homers and even legged-out four triples for good measure. He also homered in his career at-bat. Amazingly, of all the players to homer in their first at-bat, Gaetti has the most for his career. However, everything else was sad. He hit only .230 with an on-base percentage of only .280. He struck out 107 times and walked just 37 times. When you add all of this up, you have a slugger with an OPS+ of 93.
Gaetti would go on to top the 20 home run mark eight times, including three 30+ HR seasons. His best power season came in 1995 at the age of 36, when Gaetti smacked 35 home runs for the Kansas City Royals. He had his best three-year run from 1986-1988 while playing on some very good Minnesota clubs. He had OPS+ totals of well over 100 in each of these seasons while providing plenty of power and Gold Glove defense.
When it was all said and done, Gaetti put up the following totals:
- Played in parts of 20 MLB seasons.
- He played for six teams, including 10 years in Minnesota.
- OPS+ of 97, the same as Ronnie Belliard and Juan Encarnacion. Hmm.
- 2 All Star Games
- 1987 ALCS MVP
- 4 Gold Gloves
- 360 home runs
- 2,280 hits.
I like that he hung around for way too long. I like that he had some of his finer seasons in his mid-30s. I like that awful mustache and I like that one of his nicknames was “The Rat”.
Since wrapping up his playing days, Gaetti has served as a Major League and Minor League hitting coach.
Check out this awesome fan site for Gaetti. Good stuff.