When outfielder Corey Patterson was drafted by the Cubs third overall in 1998, just two months shy of his nineteenth birthday, he was considered a “can’t-miss,” five-tool player. He jetted through Chicago’s Minor League system, and made his Major League debut on September 18, 2001.
His first full season in the Majors was 2002, when he hit at a solid clip, posting a .253/.284/.676 line. He hit 14 homers and 54 RBI, but the most interesting part of his season was his 19 walks in 153 games, compared to 142 strikeouts. This theme would follow Patterson through his lengthy career, plaguing his on-base percentage. He never finished a full season with better than a .320 OBP.
Patterson hit 70 of his 118 career home runs in a Cubs’ uniform, suiting up for parts of six seasons for the North-Siders. His best hitting season came in 2004, when Patterson hit a career-high 24 home runs and drove in 72. He also flashed his speed more than years’ past, stealing 32 bases.
After 2005, however, the Cubs had seen enough of Patterson, whose on-base woes came to a head that season. He posted a dismal .254 OBP in 126 games, while his .215 batting average placed him just above the Mendoza line. He walked just 23 times while striking out 118. That off-season, the Cubs traded Patterson to the Orioles for two Minor Leaguers.
The rest of Patterson’s career has seen mixed results and several uniforms. In 2006 he rebounded nicely, with a .757 OPS for the O’s. He stole a career-high 45 bases that season. He then bounced around in a big way over the next several seasons. In 2008 he played for the Reds, then he split 2009 between Washington and Milwaukee, then back to Baltimore in 2010, and Toronto and St. Louis in 2011. He received a ring for his time with the World Champion Cardinals in 2011. However, Patterson has never had a postseason at-bat in the Majors.
He’s been the property of several Minor-League teams since he last appeared in a Major League game in 2011. As of this writing, the 34-year old is still a free agent, having never technically submitted his retirement papers. So maybe we haven’t heard the last of Patterson!