Gary Matthews (matthga02)
Gary Nathaniel Matthews Jr.
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 210 lb.
- School Los Angeles Mission College
- High School Granada Hills High School
- Debut June 4, 1999
- Final Game June 2, 2010
- Born August 25, 1974 in San Francisco, CA USA
Gary Matthews Jr. played twelve years in the majors and eleven in the minors. In his best major league year, 2006, he hit .313 with 44 doubles.
Minor League Beginnings
Gary was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 13th round of the 1993 amateur draft. Gary debuted with the 1994 Spokane Indians, hitting .209/.286/.251 and being caught in 5 of 8 steal attempts. In 191 AB, he failed to homer and struck out 58 times. San Diego gave him another shot with the 1995 Clinton Lumber Kings and he hit .238/~.343/.314 there.
In 1996, the 21-year-old outfielder began to hit, putting up a .271/~.359/.418 line for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. His 11 triples were shy of California League leader Shane Monahan. Matthews split 1997 between Rancho Cucamonga (.302/~.410/.478) and the AA Mobile BayBears (.244/~.352/.378).
At age 23, Gary returned to Mobile. He batted .307/~.430/.480 and stole 11 bases in 12 tries. In AAA in 1999, Matthews hit .256/~.346/.386 with the Las Vegas Stars and stole 17 bases in 23 tries. He got his first look at the majors, hitting .222/.378/.222 in 23 games as a sub for the Padres.
Nomadism Is Me
For the next few years, while playing for the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, briefly with the New York Mets, and later for the Baltimore Orioles, then back with San Diego, Matthews failed to hit better than .276, or slug better than .427.
In March of 2000, he was dealt by San Diego to Chicago for pitcher Rodney Myers. He hit just .242/.300/.393 for the Iowa Cubs and .190/.264/.297 in 80 games in Chicago. In 2001, Gary hit .217/.320/.364 for Chicago and was claimed off waivers by the Pirates. Replacing the ineffective Tike Redman, Emil Brown, Adrian Brown and Chad Hermansen, he had the best season of a Bucs CF that year at .245/.341/.401. He hit 14 homers in the majors in 2001, though his OPS+ was still only 84.
The New York Mets bought Gary's contract that winter and he was 0 for 1 for them in [[2002 Mets|2002] before being traded to Baltimore for John Bale. He had a 109 OPS+, his best yet in the majors, batting .276/.355/.427 with the Orioles that season.
Stability in Texas
On April 8, 2004, the Texas Rangers signed Matthews as a free agent. That year he played in 87 games and batted .275 with 11 home runs. He also spent time with the AAA Oklahoma RedHawks, putting up a .324/.409/.628 line in 38 games. In 2005, he played in 131 games for Texas, hitting .255 with 17 home runs. With an overall lifetime fielding percentage of .982 in the outfield, team management offered him another chance.
The 2006 season was good for Matthews, as he finally bloomed, starting in centerfield for the Rangers. In 620 AB, he had 194 hits, including 44 doubles, 6 triples, and 19 home runs. He made his only appearance on the AL All-Star team that year, in a game where fellow Ranger All-Star Michael Young got the game-winning hit and the game's MVP Award. Over the course of the season, Matthews hit .313, and slugged .495, with 79 RBIs. Mostly used as a lead-off hitter, his on-base percentage was a career high .371. After the season ended, Gary won the Texas Rangers MVP award for the year.
Free agent flop
After his career year, Matthews filed for free agency and was signed by the Los Angeles Angels to a five-year $50 million dollar contract. However, he never matched his Texas numbers with the Angels. in 2007, he hit .252 with 18 homers and 72 RBIs, a productive season even though his OPS+ sunk back below 100, at 93. The next two seasons were truly poor, however. In 2008, he hit .242 with a .319 OBP, 8 homers and 46 RBIs in 127 games, then in 2009, he hit .250 in 103 games but with only 4 homers and 50 RBIs. He played in the postseason for the only times in his career with the Angels in 2008 and 2009, but he did not do much, going a combined 0 for 10 with 5 strikeouts. After the 2009 season, the Angels got rid of him, sending him back to the Mets in return for pitcher Brian Stokes in a deal in which they had to swallow of lot of salary money. He played only 36 games for the Mets in 2010, however, hitting .190 with no homers and was released on June 15th. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds but never played in the big leagues again, being released from the AAA roster one month later.
For his career, Gary hit .257 in 1281 games with 225 doubles, 29 doubles and 108 homers. His OPS+ for his career was 93, which combined with his speed and good defense made him a solid fourth outfielder, although he was stretched as a starter, except for his career year with the Rangers.
Gary's father, Gary Matthews Sr. was an All-Star in the outfield himself, playing in the 1970s and 1980s, with a number of National League teams. Dave Martinez played with both Gary Matthews Sr. and Matthews Jr. Gary's brother Delvon Matthews also played pro ball.
- AL All-Star (2006)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2006)