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Benjamín Cerda Guzman
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7", Weight 170 lb
Benjamín Cerda was a reliable hitter who played 21 years in the Mexican League but was noted primarily for his defense at third base and shortstop.
Cerda broke into professional baseball in 1963 with the Aguascalientes Tigres of the A-level Mexican Center League. He hit .314/.364/.446 and led the loop in sacrifice hits (12) and times caught stealing (14; only 2 successful steals). He led the MCL's shortstops with a .932 fielding percentage, though.
In '64, Cerda batted .287 for Tabasco of the Mexican Southeast League and broke into the Mexican League proper with the Mexico City Tigers, going 10 for 32 with 3 walks. Cerda hit .263/.348/.326 for the Charros de Jalisco in 1965, his first full year in the LMB. During 1966, "La Chata" batted .304/.362/.390. His 30 errors led the loop's shortstops, an unusual occurence for the slick fielder.
In the 1966-1967 Mexican Pacific League, Cerda set a record with 11 putouts by a shortstop in a nine-inning game while playing for the Cañeros de Los Mochis. Cerda hit .240/.287/.307 for the Mexico City Tigers in 1967. Used in a utility role, he fielded .993 at second base, .974 at short and .975 at third base; he would have led any of the three positions had he played enough to qualify.
The La Barca native produced at a .236/.310/.283 rate for the Tigers and Charros in 1968, a low point offensively. He was full-time with Jalisco in 1969, starting a 7-year run there. In 1969, he hit .295/.335/.392. The next year, he batted .320/.371/.427. He was 8th in the league in average and led with 15 sacrifice flies.
Cerda played 87 games at third base for the Mazatlan Deer in 1970-1971 to set a Mexican Pacific League record for contests at that spot. In the summer of '71, the veteran hit .321/.367/.422 with Jalisco to place 10th in average. His .970 fielding percentage led the Mexican League's third basemen that year. He also set a league record with 50 consecutive error-free games and 175 error-free chances in a row at the hot corner.
In 1972, the 30-year-old's batting line was .290/.354/.405 with a career-high 90 runs and 33 doubles. He hit .294/.382/.464 with 88 runs, 84 RBI and a career-best 16 home runs during the 1973 season. He led third basemen in the LMB with a .972 fielding percentage and was named the All-Star 3B. He also set a record for most assists (8) by a third baseman in a 7-inning game.
Cerda had another hot year at the plate in 1974, batting .345/.424/.498 for the best OBP of his career. He also had 36 doubles and a career-best 87 RBI. He turned 45 double plays to set a league record for a third baseman. He led the league in doubles and was third in average behind Teo Acosta and Rico Carty. He led the Liga's third basemen in double plays, assists (280) and fielding percentage (.969) and was again honored as the All-Star at third.
Benjamín ended his stretch with Jalisco by fading to .274/.339/.371 in 1975. His 287 assists led the league's third basemen but his .949 fielding percentage was in the middle of the pack. In '76, Cerda moved to the Alacranes de Durango and hit .318/.377/.452 while turning 30 double plays, most of any third baseman that campaign.
Cerda hit .351/.414/.505 for the 1977 Alacranes for the best average and slugging percentage of his career. He was 4th in the league in average. He played little in the field that year. He also made his managerial debut that year, guiding his club to a 77-71 finish, an improvement of 15 1/2 games on their 1976 season.
At age 36, he fell off again, this time to .284/.342/.396, still productive, while managing his charges to a 85-65 finish, the second-best in franchise history. In 1979, Cerda batted .315/.370/.448 for Durango and managed them to a 58-74, 16th-place finish in their final year of existance. The one-time gloveman was now a full-time DH.
Cerda remained a player-manager while moving on to the 1980 Azules de Coatzacoalcos. He hit .274/.324/.335 in the strike-split season and guided his club to a 65-66 finish. In 1981, Cerda batted .255/.309/.277 for the Veracruz Eagle at age 39 and fielded .997 at first base, his primary position.
In 1982, the old-timer batted .252/.309/.260 for Veracruz. He wound up his career by hitting .252/.297/.427 for Tabasco in 1984, after having missed all of '83.
Overall, Cerda played 2,111 games in the Mexican League and hit .294/.356/.395 with 355 doubles and 974 RBI. He had more walks (695) than strikeouts (620). One major negative was his speed - 47 steals in 131 tries. Through 2000, he was tied for 12th in seasons by a position player (21) in the Mexican League, 15th in hits (2,121), tied for 6th in doubles (even with Angel Castro and Arnoldo Castro) and 4th in sacrifice flies (98, trailing only Enrique Aguilar, Nelson Barrera and Jesus Sommers).
In 2007, Cerda was voted into the Salón de la Fama in his second appearance on the Veterans Committee ballot, having failed to make it on the regular ballot.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1977||Alacranes de Durango||Mexican League||77-71||7th||Lost in 1st round|
|1978||Alacranes de Durango||Mexican League||85-65||4th (t)||Lost in 1st round|
|1979||Alacranes de Durango||Mexican League||58-74||16th|
|1980||Azules de Coatzacoalcos||Mexican League||47-48||12th||season ended by player strike|
|Azules de Coatzacoalcos||Mexican League||18-18||4th||supplemental season|
- 1964, 1967-1985 Baseball Guides
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- Cerda's Salon de la Fama page
- Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database