On December 2, 2003, the Chicago White Sox traded Aaron Miles to the Colorado Rockies for Juan Uribe.
Admittedly, I like things that are unorthodox that work. Juan Uribe is one of those things. Before I gush all over the single greatest play in White Sox history and how Juan Uribe isn’t generally acknowledged for it, you have to understand the legend that is one Juan Uribe. In the 2004 season, Juan Uribe announced his presence with authority, .283/.327/.506 for 4.0 WAR (according to Baseball Reference)……or in old school stats R 82, HR 23, RBI 74.
Anyway you slice it, an excellent performance at the plate and above average shortstop defense. Then 2005, where Uribe was still good, but not quite as good at the plate, defense still solidly above average. Most White Sox fans will remember this play for the rest of their lives, or like me and my friends, we never saw it in real time as the second he gloved it, everyone jumped up and started hugging. Unfortunately, this play gets lost in lore (sky point). At least Joe Buck and Tim McCarver get it……..but I don’t think anyone ever talks about this play in the history of the World Series, but it is likely the best late inning defensive play in the history of the classic. Imagine a world in which Derek Jeter makes this play or Cal Ripken makes this play. It would be considered the greatest moment in the history of mankind (next to when John C. Dorito created his magical chips). Uribe is also listed on Baseball Reference as 6 feet tall, 235 pounds and he looks fatter than that. Although few fat men dress this well.
Uribe has a reputation as being a fantastic clubhouse guy as noted by this USA today article in 2009 (see #17) and this article by Vice, imagine that, a journeyman middle infielder being profiled by Vice. The article points out that Clayton Kershaw thanked Juan Uribe specifically in his Cy Young award winning speech “Thank you for making me laugh, you are one of the most important people in our clubhouse.” Jimmy Rollins is quoted in the article and it is the essence of how I think about Juan Uribe’s defense “You look at him and he shouldn’t be that athletic and move as well as he does,” says Jimmy Rollins who will play shortstop next to Uribe this season for the Dodgers. “But he gets to them. All the time. He’s gotten me a few times, I’m like how does he do it? Look at that dude. Like…look at him! How does he get to that play and make it? You know, it seems very nonchalant. But that’s how he does it.” On the field, Juan Uribe has produced 24.3 WAR (Baseball Reference) over 15 years, which classifies him as a solid major league regular. What the statistics don’t tell you are that he is the epitome of clubhouse guy. The mythical beast that you read about when beat reporters don’t have anything of substance to talk about. In this case, Juan Uribe’s contribution is documented everywhere and he fits Brandon McCarthy’s definition of chemistry (McCarthy is a nerd stat guy, who knocked pocket protectors everywhere in 2013 with this proclamation). So let’s just spend today enjoying what Juan Uribe is to baseball. Happy Birthday Juan!!