#39: Glenn Hubbard

See the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves here.

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.

Glenn Hubbard Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

17 thoughts on “#39: Glenn Hubbard”

  1. That last line’s pretty good…

    You know, I’m starting to think Gold Gloves are rather pointless. Neither Lemke nor Hubbard ever won one? That’s insane.

  2. Speaking of Jerry Royster, I have a feeling that he’s been left off this list (fine by me). But he is one of only ten players to play 1000 games as an Atlanta Brave, and you said that Mike Lum was the only one of them left off…

  3. Apparently, the Braves were so bad in those days that Hubbard had time to get a PH.D in Economics. I’m impressed. Do you think people ask that Glenn Hubbard if he is THE Glenn Hubbard?

  4. Bill James liked Hubbard a lot. I remember in the Abstracts he would point out Hubbard’s defense, walks and ability to hit doubles as reasons to rate him better than contemporaries that had higher batting averages. I am a big fan of Hubbard. Yet another guy that leveraged hustle, hard work and limited skills into a major league baseball career. When I looked at his stats it struck me that he never played 160 games. He always seemed to be in there when I watched TBS.

    Speaking of Royster, I remember every season that I would buy these paperback baseball books that outlined every team and their significant players. I think that in several editions he was listed as the Brave’s best prospect. Man did we suck back then or what!

  5. I am tired about seeing former Braves having so much success or just being in the playoffs this year.

    To name a few

    Adam Wainwright
    Tom Glavine
    Julio Franco
    Michael Tucker
    Rafael Furcal
    J.D. Drew
    Kenny Lofton
    Wilson Betimet
    Kyle Farnsworth
    Jaret Wright
    Gary Sheffield
    Roman Colon
    Zach Miner

    Did I miss anyone???

  6. i’ve seen a few defensive systems rank his 1985 as one of the best defensive seasons by a second baseman in history. BP loves him. so did “Defensive Regression Analysis” by that guy michael who never posts on primer any more. I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate it at the time sadly.

  7. I hate to appear to be screaming and getting attention, but I made the Otis Nixon post. It’s ready to be put up.

    Reason I did this is that I don’t think I can submit the post myself, I thought Mac has to do it.

  8. Kyle, you missed a guy that made playing second look easy and effortless. A scrapper at the plate and a guy who played the game hard. As you can see I am a big fan of Glenn Hubbard. I’m glad that the Braves have seen fit to employ him in a coaches role.

  9. What the hell was with those big bad beards on the braves in the 80’s
    Big fatso pieace of rubbish Oby ( who i put as the worst 3B of the history of the braves), Hubby, Ozzie, garber, camp,mahler,
    Mac you have to put Garber in this list, Please dude,
    More brutal players in a Bravos jersey…….Loser Len Barker (thanks mullen), Terrible Terry blocker, Jeff walk him if you got him Dedmon, Pete the freak Falcone, and huge FA sign from Beantown Georgia boy who always hit well at the launching pad AFCS, Nick the Knat Esasky. I think he is still being paid of in an annuity. That should expire right around Sutter’s last paycheck from Ted

  10. Total Baseball circa 2001 lists Hubbard’s 1985 season as the best single-season defensive performance of all time, regardless of position. Their method of evaluating defense has been discredited, with Hubbard often cited as Exhibit A of why it doesn’t work.

    No doubt he was a very fine fielder, but the 1985 Braves pitching staff led the league in hits allowed and in walks allowed (by a large margin), and was next to last in strikeouts. Baserunners everywhere. They were also a groundball staff, so Hubbard had a huge number of opportunities for assists and double plays.

  11. When do we stop paying Sutter? IS he still figured in the books as far as payrole is concerend?

  12. I’ll admit Hubbard was a decent player, but I can never forgive him for that godawful ’84 Fleer card with the snake around his neck.

  13. A couple Hubbard memories:

    I agree, he had the fastest hands at 2B since Maz. Boy, he could turn it.

    I once went to a game in late-1981 where Hubby hit a GSHR in the 1st inning off Dick Ruthven. Of course, the Braves went on to lose to Philly, after giving up 4 HRs of their own–including a bomb by Schmidt.

    Best Hubbard Moment: Just before the month-long mega collapse in August 1982, Hubby hits an extra-inning, walk-off HR against the Padres to complete a DH sweep. The Braves are at their high-water mark that year—first place by about 10 games. That didn’t last long.

  14. Hubbard made the turn at second as fast as anyone. Terrific second-baseman and I’m glad to see him on this list.

    At the plate, he was the epitome of “warning track power.”

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