Lefthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Third Baseman
Seasons With Braves: 1969-1976, 1989
Stats With Braves: .246/.368/.426, 131 HR, 424 RBI, 453 RS
Longtime readers are hereby authorized to zone out.
Darrell Evans is, in the words of Bill James, probably the most underrated player in baseball history, because he (a) did a lot of things well, instead of doing one thing extremely well, and (b) what he didn’t do well was hit for batting average. He hit for power, and he drew lots of walks, so even though his batting average is 71 points lower than Ralph Garr’s, his on-base percentage is 18 points higher. His secondary average is fifth in Atlanta history, behind Aaron, Chipper, Justice, and Burroughs. Because of that, he created a ton of runs — tenth most in Atlanta history.
Darrell was drafted by the Royals in 1967, but for some reason was exposed to the Rule 5 draft in 1968 and the Braves took him. Stuck behind Clete Boyer, he only got into 12 games each of his first two seasons. In 1971 he took most of Boyer’s playing time, and hit what turned out to be a pretty typical .242 in 89 games. Playing full-time in 1972, Evans hit .254/.384/.419.
In 1973, Evans was one of four three Braves to hit 40 or more homers, with 41, and made the all-star team. He hit .281/.403/.556 overall, career highs in all categories. He really wasn’t a .280 hitter, and hitting that probably fooled the team into thinking that he should have continued to and thus they were disappointed in his production in the next two seasons.
He was still the best player on the team, by Win Shares, in those seasons, but a low average one, .240 and .243. He hit for power, he drew walks, he was a good baserunner and while he wasn’t Boyer with the glove he was damned good and blatantly robbed of the Gold Glove by inferiors such as Doug Rader and Ken Reitz.
Evans got off to a terrible start in 1975. As I’ve mentioned, the Braves in the seventies continually traded their best players when they were at their worst, and this was no exception. When hitting .173/.320/.194 after 44 games, Darrell was sent to the Giants (along with Marty Perez) for mostly Willie Montanez. Montanez was pretty good for a year and a half for the Braves but after that was pretty much done. Evans would play until 1989.
Darrell played in San Francisco until 1983, getting moved to first base to stay in the lineup that season, which was one of his best years. He then joined the Tigers, just in time to get a World Series ring. While he didn’t play well, he rebounded with his second 40-homer season in 1985. He was still a good player in 1987, at the age of 40, but fell apart the next season. The Braves brought him back in 1989, because they really didn’t have anything better. He hit .207/.303/.355, which is obviously pretty bad.