Mark Ellis Was Our Guy

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Mark Ellis announced his retirement from professional baseball yesterday. At 37-years-old it is time to focus on more important tasks.

“It was definitely time,” Ellis told the San Francisco Chronicle. “My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else.”

Ellis placed eighth in the 2002 American League Rookie of the Year voting. He never went to an all-star game and never received an MVP vote.

So why was he so beloved by Oakland Athletics fans?

For eight and a half seasons Mark Ellis was our guy. You don’t need statistics to tell you that. Without coming from an elite baseball pedigree Ellis was a true professional who made the Oakland Athletics a better team whether he was on the field or not.

When he was on the field, though, he made his presence known. Ellis is one of the greatest fielding second baseman of all-time. His fielding percentage, ultimate zone rating, and defensive runs saved all come in at second all-time among qualified second basemen. He is one of the better overall defenders of recent memory.

Leaping grabs, diving stops, and long runs into foul territory were just some of the ways he set himself apart in this franchise’s long history. Not many displayed mastery of the Coliseum’s foul territory like Mark Ellis. He wasn’t a slouch with the bat either. During his time with the A’s Ellis batted .265/ .331/ .397 with 86 home runs, 434 RBIs, and 533 runs scored.  Statistics aside, Ellis was always one of my favorite A’s.

Now that he is retiring I have a lot to thank him for. Growing up going to games at the Coliseum I would arrive early to watch batting practice with my brother and try to snag a few autographs. When other players were more interested in their pre-game routines Ellis was always along the dugout signing autographs for kids.  

“It was definitely time. My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else.”

He was never bigger than the game, and perhaps for that reason he never received the recognition he deserved. How does one of the greatest fielding second baseman ever not have at least one gold glove award?  His best chance came in 2006, but his near-perfect fielding percentage wasn’t enough to beat out Kansas City Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek.   He battled through injuries, but he was a constant in the Oakland lineup for nearly a decade.

When he was traded to the Colorado Rockies in 2011 a little piece of every A’s fan went to Denver along with him. When his career continued and he went on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals we still payed attention because he always was one of “our guys.”. During the Bob Geren years of the late 2000’s when it seemed baseball was dead in Oakland, at least there was mark Ellis. He was never suspected of steroid use, never got involved in any kind of scandal, and he seemed like a great teammate and an even better role model. I will certainly miss Ellis on the field, and I know others will too. According to Susan Slusser, it sounds as if Ellis has a position locked up with the Athletics if he ever wants one. I hope that happens. Here are some other thoughts on Ellis and his retirement from you, the fans:

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