This is the third in my “Find the Canadian Connection” feature. For this feature, I close my eyes and reach into a random box of baseball cards in my basement and pull out a single card. I then try to establish a Canadian connection for the player featured on the card.
The card I pulled this time is a 1991 Fleer Ultra Update Bill Pecota (#U28).
Selected in the 10th round of the 1981 MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals, this Redwood City, Calif., native played parts of nine big league seasons with the Royals (1986 to 1991), New York Mets (1992) and Atlanta Braves (1993-94).
In 698 major league games, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound utility player batted .249 and recorded 380 hits – including 22 home runs. He enjoyed his best season in 1991 when he batted a career-high .286 and had 114 hits – including 23 doubles and six home runs – and stole 16 bases in 125 games.
Pecota played primarily second base, shortstop and third base in the majors, but he made at least one appearance at every position on the diamond – including pitcher (2 appearances) and catcher (1 game) – over the course of his career.
He is now best known for having the PECOTA system named after him. This is an elaborate player and team forecasting system designed by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus. The name of the system is an acronym (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) but it’s also an homage of sorts to Pecota because Silver considered him to be the prototypical average major league player.
Following his big league career, Pecota became a professional bass fisherman. In more recent years, according to a 2015 interview he did with Royals Clubhouse Conversation, he has been buying and working on muscle cars. At last report, he was living in the Kansas City area.
I managed to find some interesting Canadian connections for Pecota:
– His batting average against the Toronto Blue Jays was the highest that he recorded against any major league team that he had a minimum of 30 at bats against. The versatile infielder went 25-for-77, good for a .325 batting average, versus the Blue Jays. Of those 25 hits, four were doubles, one was a triple and one was a home run. His career on-base percentage against the Blue Jays was .381.
– Pecota had two, four-hit games in his career. The first came against the Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on May 12, 1987. In that contest, he had three singles and also took John Cerutti deep for a solo home run in the second inning to lead the Royals to a 3-1 win. That was the second home run of his big league career.
– Overall, Pecota just plain loved to hit in Canada. In 10 games at Exhibition Stadium, he went 7-for-17 (.412 batting average) with a double, a home run and three runs. When the Blue Jays shifted to the SkyDome, he continued to hit well there, going 11-for-33 (.333 batting average) with three doubles, a triple and six RBIs in nine games. And he was also a solid 7-for-24 (.292 batting average) with two doubles and four RBIs in 11 contests at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
– And not only did he love hitting in Canada, he also excelled against Canadian pitchers. He was 4-for-4 against Denis Boucher (Lachine, Que.) and 5-for-8 (.625 batting average) versus Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rheal Cormier (Cap-Pele, N.B.). He also homered off Steve Wilson (Victoria, B.C.) in his only at bat against the Canadian left-hander and belted another round-tripper against Mike Gardiner (Sarnia, Ont.).