By Trey Wilson
As we prepare for our 20th Season Celebration in 2018, we are turning to the fans to decide the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team. Fans will vote for one manager and a player at each position to pick the 11 representatives on the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team. The voting will also go toward a yet-to-be-announced promotion for the upcoming season.
Fans can cast their votes by clicking here.
We broke down the candidates for the All-Time Team Manager, Catcher, First Baseman, Second Baseman, Third Baseman and Shortstop already. Those posts can be found here. Now we will take a look at the finalists for the Fans’ Choice All-Time Team Outfielders.
We will spotlight the current top eight outfielders in the voting of the 18 finalists, with three being chosen for the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team.
Stats: .300, 55 HR, 184 RBI (233 games in two seasons)
The Curve’s best player in the franchise’s first two seasons, Adam Hyzdu set a long list of offensive marks that still have not been eclipsed to this day. In 1999, Hyzdu led the team with a .316 batting average, 24 homers, 78 RBIs and 39 doubles. He also set a handful of single-season team records that have never been broken, including 96 runs scored and a .612 slugging percentage on his way to being named team MVP. Hyzdu tallied the first seven-RBI game in Curve history on June 25, 1999 at New Britain, a record that stood until Alex Presley surpassed it in 2010. He returned in 2000 and saw even better results. Hyzdu’s single-season marks for home runs (31), RBIs (106), walks (94), on-base percentage (.405) and total bases (285) all still stand today. He also played in all 142 regular-season games, a mark that has not been seen again and likely will not be matched with the current Eastern League schedule consisting of 140 games. Today, Hyzdu is tied with Josh Bonifay for the team career record with 55 home runs, ranked second with 184 RBIs and 124 extra-base hits, third with 65 doubles and fourth with 160 runs scored.
Hyzdu was named Eastern League MVP for the 2000 season and the Curve retired his number 16 following the year. After playing 11 seasons in the minors, he made his MLB debut with the Pirates on September 8, 2000 and singled in his first at-bat. He went on to play in seven big league seasons with the Pirates, Padres, Red Sox and Rangers before rounding out his 18-year professional career in Japan in 2007.
Years: 2003-2004, 2008
Stats: .268, 10 HR, 87 RBI (268 games in three seasons)
Chris Duffy joined the Curve in 2003 as the team’s center fielder and lead-off hitter. That year, he hit .273 while leading the club with 137 hits, 44 walks. He was hit by a pitch 20 times that year, which is still the team’s single-season record. Duffy also set a franchise record with 34 stolen bases, which is now ranked as the fourth-most in a season in team history. He returned to the Curve in 2004 and helped the club to their first-ever division title, leading the team with 32 steals while batting .309 and was named as an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star. Duffy also played 18 games with the Curve on a rehab assignment in 2008 while returning from shoulder surgery. He holds the franchise record for the most career stolen bases with 67 and ranks second with 175 runs scored.
Duffy made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 2005 and hit .341 over 39 games before his season was cut short due to an injury. He played in three seasons with the Pirates and spent part of 2009 with the Brewers.
Stats: .322, 8 HR, 73 RBI (133 games in one season)
Nate McLouth was the Opening Day right fielder for the Curve in 2004 as they won their first division title and reached the Eastern League Championship Series for the first time in team history. McLouth hit .322 that season, which would have been the highest ever for a Curve player at the time if it had not been for teammate Jeff Keppinger, who batted .338 that year. McLouth’s average from that season still ranks tied for fourth-best in team history. He knocked 166 hits, which stood as the team record until it was broken by Starling Marte in 2011 and still ranks second. His record 40 doubles still stands today and his 93 runs scored is second-most in a season. From May 25-June 12, McLouth went on an 18-game hitting streak, which was the second-longest in team history at the time and is currently the fifth-longest for a Curve player. He finished the season ranked as Pittsburgh’s No. 10 prospect by Baseball America.
McLouth debuted with the Pirates in 2005 and spent six total seasons in Pittsburgh, including a 2008 campaign that saw him earn a National League All-Star selection and a Gold Glove Award. He also spent time in the big leagues with the Braves, Orioles and Nationals.
Stats: .281, 4 HR, 34 RBI (123 games in one season)
Rajai Davis came to Altoona as the Pirates’ No. 11 prospect according to Baseball America in 2005 and went on to mark his name in the Curve history books with 45 stolen bases on the year, tying Rich Thompson for the most in team history. Davis led the Curve with 140 hits and 82 runs scored and was selected as an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star.
Davis debuted with the Pirates the following year in 2006 and spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. He has played 12 MLB seasons to date, spending time with San Francisco, Oakland, Toronto, Detroit and Cleveland. In 2016, he led the American League with 43 stolen bases with the Indians. In Game 7 of last year’s World Series, Davis hit a game-tying, two-run homer against Aroldis Chapman, but Cleveland lost the game (and the series) in extras to the Cubs.
Stats: .265, 13 HR, 60 RBI (138 games in two seasons)
The 11th-overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, Andrew McCutchen played the final 20 games of the 2006 season with the Curve and clubbed three homers with a .308 batting average before being named the Pirates’ Minor League Player of the Year. He returned to Altoona in 2007 as the Pirates’ top-ranked prospect, but he struggled to open the season and was batting just .240 through his first 86 games. He warmed up after the All-Star Break, batting .306 in 32 games before a late promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis.
McCutchen reached the big leagues with the Pirates in 2009 and has gone on to one of the most decorated MLB careers of any Altoona alumni. He has been selected as a National League All-Star five times, won four Silver Slugger Awards, a Gold Glove Award and was named the NL Most Valuable Player in 2013 as the Pirates posted their first winning season since 1992. In nine major league seasons, McCutchen has hit .291 with 203 homers and 725 RBIs.
Stats: .350, 6 HR, 47 RBI (67 games in one season)
Alex Presley had a brief but effective run with the Curve in 2010 before being named as the Pirates’ Minor League Player of the Year after the season, the eighth straight Altoona player to win the honor. On May 24 at Akron, Presley drove in eight runs, breaking Adam Hyzdu’s record of seven RBIs in a single game. From April 11-May 5, Presley went on a 19-game hitting streak, which is currently tied for the third-longest in Curve history. He was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in late-June.
Presley debuted in the big leagues with the Pirates later in 2010 and spent parts of four seasons in Pittsburgh. Over eight MLB seasons, he has played with the Twins, Astros, Brewers and, most recently, the Tigers since 2016.
Stats: .332, 12 HR, 50 RBI (129 games in one season)
Starling Marte joined the Curve for the 2011 season as Baseball America’s No. 4 Pirates prospect and had one of the best seasons in team history. He finished the season with 178 hits, surpassing the team record set by Nate McLouth. Marte’s 2011 season also saw the most singles in a season for a Curve player with 120, second-most extra-base hits in team history with 58, tied for the third-most runs scored with 91 and the third-most doubles in a season with 38. He also led the team with 24 stolen bases. Marte played in the All-Star Futures Game that season in Arizona. He hit .332, becoming the first Curve player to win an Eastern League batting title (Jeff Keppinger won in 2004 but finished the season with Binghamton). Marte collected several awards, including becoming the first Curve player to be named Eastern League Rookie of the Year. He was also selected as an E.L. Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star, a Topps Double-A All-Star and was ranked by Baseball America as the Eastern League’s No. 7 prospect.
Marte reached the majors with the Pirates the following year and has spent six total seasons patrolling the outfield in Pittsburgh. He was picked as a National League All-Star in 2016 and has picked up two Gold Glove Awards. Marte returned to Altoona in 2013 as the Curve hosted an exhibition game in March, clubbing a grand slam for the Pirates in an 8-6 Altoona win.
Stats: .263, 6 HR, 41 RBI
Gregory Polanco came to Altoona in June 2013 as the Pirates’ No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America and one of the top-ranked prospects in the minors. He played in the All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field in New York in July. He played just 68 games for the Curve and hit .284 through his first 37 games before slumping in the month of August. He was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in September to finish the season.
Polanco debuted with the Pirates in June 2014 and recorded a five-hit game, including his first MLB homer, four days later. He became the first Pirates player to record a hit in each of his first eight major league games. In four seasons, Polanco has hit .252 with 49 homers, including a career-high 22 home runs in 2016.
Other outfield finalists include Rob Mackowiak, Willy Garcia, Tony Alvarez, Tike Redman, Quincy Latimore, Andrew Lambo, Alex Dickerson, Robbie Grossman, Ray Sadler and Vic Buttler.
There is your look at the eight finalists for the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team Outfielders. Be sure to cast your votes here.
Season tickets for the Curve’s 20th season are currently on sale as the team looks to defend its Eastern League championship.