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Corky's Cohort: An appreciation

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Jim McIsaac

Corky Miller has a .235/ .350/.353 line in 40 plate appearances this season. At first glance, there's nothing particularly flooring about that achievement, even if you know some of the context (or, CorkText). A lot of things can happen in 40 plate appearances.

But we should know better. Aside from being a living folk hero and inspiration to all of us, Corky Miller is a 37-year-old journeyman catcher who was originally drafted almost 20 years ago by the then-and-future California Angels. The fact that he's been a useful role player on a contending team in the year 2013 - a year in which world governments were trying to suppress cyborg revolts in science fiction in 1994 - is nothing short of very impressive.

Although Corky didn't sign with the Angels in '94, it's still interesting to look at other high school catchers who were taken that same year. Seventy-three high school players were listed as catchers in the 1994, though a significant chunk of those were immediately or quickly converted to other positions - guys like Eric Byrnes and Paul Konerko.

Of those 73 high school catchers, only 10 eventually made it to the majors and only 7 of those made it squatting. Of those elite seven, A.J. Pierzynski is far and away the most successful major league player and the only other active player besides Corky Miller. Of the 1,000+ aspiring baseball players drafted by major league teams in the second year of Bill Clinton's presidency, Corky is one of just two that are drawing big league paychecks for calling pitches.

The story of any major leaguer is one of long odds, but they get even longer when you're a catcher lurching toward 40. There have been plenty of catchers who have made at least 40 plate appearances at age 37 or beyond, but relatively few of them have made solid contributions offensively and defensively. Just 67 in baseball history have put up a .700 OPS in at least 40 plate appearances.

For Corky, it might all just be gravy. Thick, oxmeat gravy.