Righthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing C/1B/3B
Seasons with Braves: 1970-72, 1975-76
Career Stats with Braves: .251/.321/.437, 81 HR, 255 RBI, 200 RS
Earl Williams won Rookie of the Year for the Braves in 1971 by blasting 33 homers for America’s Team. He hit another 28 the next year, then was traded in a package for, among others, Pat Dobson, Davey Johnson, and Johnny Oates. The O’s sold him back to us for cash (a simpler time) two years later.
Again, kiddies, let’s put this in historical perspective. Thirty-three homers in 1971 is basically like 44 today. He finished fifth in the NL in homers that year, and his 28 were good enough for eighth in ’72. Johnny Bench had 67 total (led the league in 1973) in those same years to Earl’s 61. Thus, Earl’s taters were a lot of production from behind the plate. Only four NL teams in 1972 had catchers with double digit homers from their starting catcher. Earl’s 28 were a ton of dingers.
His defense was fairly solid: he was not cat-quick (back then that catcher model didn’t really exist) but he did have a strong arm. He eventually gravitated to first base by way of third base.
His 81 homers make him 18th on the list of Atlanta Braves. Every single person ahead of him is on Mac’s list, as are the two guys right behind him (Chris Chambliss and Dusty Baker).
Does he make the cut? Very, very close, but really — only if the 44 have to carry a third catcher. His Braves career wasn’t really long enough in my book. Sorry, Earl, missed it by THAT much.
Extra Commentary by Mac: Williams falls into the Brian Jordan trap. His first tenure with the Braves isn’t long enough for consideration, and his second tenure with the team is so bad that it drags his career down to below-average. His good years are offensively just as good as Torre’s and Lopez’s.