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Righthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Second Baseman
Seasons With Braves: 1978-1987
Stats With Braves: .245/.328/.351, 61 HR, 403 RBI, 498 RS
My favorite player growing up. Glenn was a little guy, though he’s probably taller than Marcus Giles, and he did the little things exceedingly well. He walked almost as much as he struck out, he could do the hit and run, he’d take a pitch if needed or get hit with one if it helped the team. He was basically the ideal #2 hitter, even if the Braves didn’t realize that.
Hubbard was a military brat, born on an Air Force base in Germany. He was drafted out of a Utah high school in the twentieth round of the 1975 June draft. (Yes, the two iconic Braves of the eighties both have Utah connections. Go figure.) He moved up the chain by hitting for high averages, averages he never could match in the majors. He tore the heck out of the International League in 1978, hitting .336 and slugging .535. Bouncing up and down he continued to hit well over .300 in AAA and well under in the majors. The Braves apparently were disappointed in his major league production and kept trying to replace him, but even if his batting average was low his defense and secondary skills made him a good player.
Glenn didn’t win any Gold Gloves; in his case, they were giving it to Ryne Sandberg every year. Ryno was a very good second baseman, but Hubbard was a great one who turned the double play as well as anyone other than Mazeroski. He had good range, too, though his fielding percentages aren’t as much better than the league as Lemke’s. Some ratings systems give Hubbard a huge advantage on defense that make him look like one of the best players in baseball some years. As James argues, that’s an illusion caused by all the baserunners the Braves allowed in the eighties, giving Hubbard a huge number of double play chances. James still rates him an A+ defender.
Offensively, he was a better hitter than Millan in his best years, but his best years weren’t common enough to push him far ahead. In 1983 he hit a career high 12 homers and made the All-Star team. Later in his career he didn’t hit for much power but picked it up by drawing lots of walks. 1987 rates as his best offensive season due largely to a .378 OBP. Basically, he had extremely low batting averages (25 points below the league for his career) which ate up most of his fine secondary skills and which would make a clueless team think he wasn’t contributing offensively.
The Braves were spectacularly clueless in this period. They kept trying to make Jerry Royster their second baseman even though he could no more play the position than he could the harp, and he wasn’t any better a hitter than Hubbard anyway. After Royster, they tried to make Ken Oberkfell the second baseman, apparently in an attempt to get both Andres Thomas and Rafael Ramirez on the field at the same time. Eventually, the pitchers would revolt and Hubbard would be back in the lineup, hitting eighth.
Glenn was allowed to leave as a free agent after the 1987 season and signed with the A’s. He played well in 1988 but collapsed in 1989 and was released July 31, presumably to clear a roster spot, thereby missing out on a World Championship. Basically, that was his sort of luck. He never played again. He’s now the Braves’ first base coach and has also served as a fielding guru for Marcus Giles. In his spare time, he’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.