(c) Houston Astros

See Also:
Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac

Position: C/1B/OF      Born: Jul 22, 1947      Bats: Right      Throws: Right

Slugger Cliff Johnson was born to be a designated hitter, since he never found a position in the field he could master. Although he caught only 66 games for Houston in 1976, he led the NL in passed balls. Not much better at first base or in the outfield, Johnson's value to the Astros was chiefly as a pinch hitter. In 1974, his first full season, Johnson hit five homers off the bench. He finished his career with 20 pinch-hit home runs, more than any other player.

In 1977 Johnson was traded to the Yankees, where as designated hitter he could concentrate on offense. In three years with the Yanks he hit 20 home runs in only 380 at-bats, but in 1979 he got into a scuffle with Yank relief ace Rich "Goose" Gossage, fractured the pitcher's thumb, and was quickly traded to Cleveland.

He continued to hit for power, going on to play for the Cubs, A's, Rangers, and Blue Jays. In 1983 he had the best season of his career, hitting 22 home runs for Toronto and reaching career highs in games, at bats, doubles, and RBIs. In 1984 he posted a .304 batting average, his best ever, and 16 more four-baggers. Johnson retired after the 1986 season with 196 career home runs.