When I started looking for an interesting statistic to highlight Ruben Sierra, I thought it would involve home runs or some other form of offense. After all, this is a guy with more than 2,000 hits, more than 300 home runs, and more than 1,300 RBIs. It turns out there are 75 major leaguers that have ticked each of these boxes, and Sierra ranks 75th among them in terms of overall effectiveness.
However, there is an insane stat in which Sierra blows away the competition. Pitchers couldn’t hit him. Regardless of if this was the result of pitchers liking him, quick reflexes, or a batting stance that pushed him far off the plate, Ruben Sierra was rarely ever hit by a pitch. From 1986 to 1990 he was knicked by pitches about as often as anybody else. On September 4, 1990 he was hit by Cleveland’s Sergio Valdez. After that he came to the plate 5,764 times until his 2006 retirement. Not a single pitch hit him in all those plate appearances. The second longest streak of non-HBP appearances belongs to Mark Lemke, a utility player who avoided getting hit in any of his 3,664 career appearances. Sierra avoided pitches so well that he almost lapped the second best player in this department.
Sierra is pictured in the ’93 Finest set as a recent addition to the Oakland Athletics. He was the primary player involved in the late-season trade the previous year that brought Jose Canseco to the Texas Rangers. I remember that tidbit, because my local television news station led off that evening’s broadcast with news of the trade. The sports guy was so excited: This was the scoop he had waited so long to deliver.
That yellow A’s practice jersey is pretty bright, but then again Sierra has never been drab in the wardrobe department. Former Yankees’ pitcher Phil Hughes posted a video of himself opening packs of 1993 Finest baseball cards and tells a good story about his first time seeing Ruben Sierra in street clothes.
A year prior to the release of Finest, Topps highlighted Sierra’s sartorial style in the company’s Stadium Club set. Sierra is shown in front of a scenic street in Puerto Rico. The photo choice not only highlights Sierra’s roots, but hints at his budding salsa music career. He would go on to release albums in 1994 and 1997.