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Happy trails to Bill Mueller

Link: AP

As you may have gathered from my serious fandom of guys like Mark Grace and Joe Randa, I have a soft spot for ballplayers like Bill Mueller. And Bill Mueller was a player I liked.

He retires at age 35, taking a front office job with the Dodgers, after a career line of .291/.373/.425 over 11 major league seasons. In a big hitters era, Mueller hit just 85 career home runs. But when he was a regular (generally speaking), he contributed. He had a career park-adjusted OPS+ of 110, which is better than Ray Durham, who I would classify as a (very) fringe Hall of Fame candidate. Durham's a better player than Mueller, but not by a ton.

Bill Mueller is just plain the sort of cat you probably wouldn't object to having on your team. Got some bangers? Got a leadoff man? Then Bill Mueller could help you. He was a pro. He could get himself on base, he played a fine third base, and you knew what you were getting.

His career year was 2003 with the Red Sox, when he hit .326/.398/.540 (the AL batting champion by a point over teammate Manny Ramirez and two points over rival Derek Jeter) with 19 homers, 85 RBI, and 45 doubles. He was the third baseman for the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

I don't know what it is about baseball players retiring, but I always get theoretically misty-eyed. Good luck, Bill.