The Legend of Sam Fuld Shall Never Die

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 03: Outfielder Sam Fuld #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays catches a ball against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Just as Don Quixote had Benengeli, Odysseus had Homer and Pablo Sandoval has Grant Brisbee, the legend-in-the-making that is Sam Fuld has Marc Topkin.

As Topkin notes (via TampaBay.com), Fuld:

* leads the American League with a .396 batting average,

* is the only player in the majors with two four-hit games this season,

* leads the American League with seven stolen bases,

* has been the third-toughest player in the league to strike out, and

* the Rays are 7-4 since installing Fuld as their leadoff man.

A wild-eyed fluke? Sure.

But here's my favorite thing about Sam Fuld ... In 2009, the Cubs called him up from Triple-A at the end of June. Playing just semi-regularly through the rest of the season, Fuld posted a .299/.409/.412 line. Granted, he was 27 years old and it was only 115 plate appearances and the Cubs had a full outfield the next season ... But don't you think you could find a place for a fast guy who gets on base and plays great defense?

The Cubs did find a place for him. No, not Wrigley Field. Not Heaven, either. Iowa. Again. Where Fuld posted a .383 on-base percentage.

Granted (yes, again), a .383 on-base percentage for a 28-year-old in Triple-A isn't really anything special. But I'm telling you, there are worse fourth outfielders on half the teams in the majors right now.

You don't believe me? Three years ago, John Sickels wrote, "I think he would be an excellent fourth outfielder, due to his speed, defense, on-base ability, and hustle."

Also three years ago, Baseball America wrote, "Fuld has boosted his profile from quality organization player to a big league reserve outfielder, and some scouts who saw him in the Arizona Fall League thought he could be more than that ... He also won the league's Dernell Stenson Award for leadership."

Now, here's where I have to mention that Fuld's career Triple-A batting average is .273, a figure that doesn't usually translate to .396 in the American League. Or even .256.

The Legend of Sam Fuld might grow. Or it might shrink, as Fuld's batting average inevitably plummets and his playing time suffers upon the arrival of top prospect Desmond Jennings, last seen tearing up the International League.

The Legend of Sam Fuld shall never perish, though. Not as long as Marc Topkin still has a voice to sing.

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