Every Thursday, from here on out, The Common Man is going to head over to the old baseballreference.com, and hit their "random" link. At that point, The Common Man plans to write about whatever or whoever comes up on his screen, be it a player, schedule, award, team page, or whatever. Perhaps in keeping with the random theme, The Common Man's first attempt led to some unexpected results. The Common Man thought he'd be directed to someone old and obscure, like Bob Kline or Harry Steinfeldt. Instead, he found Buck Coats, a contemporary outfielder who's currently on Toronto's 40-man roster.
In three years, for three teams, Coats has 62 plate appearances and a .193/.242/.333 hitting line. And he's not doing much in the minors to distinguish himself either, posting a mediocre OBP and very little power. He's entering his age-27 season and there's little reason to think that he's got any more growth in him. He is what he is, a fifth outfielder who can handle CF, has a little speed, and might post an OBP in the .340s if he's given a chance to play. He'll presumably hang around as AAA filler for a few more seasons, getting a few at bats here and there, before finally hanging up his spikes when he's 30 or so.
It's really not all that fun to talk about 5th outfielders (at best) behind their backs, though, so let's talk about his name. According to baseballreference, Buck is not a nickname, but the actual moniker given to Buck by presumably loving parents. Loyal readers know how angry The Common Man gets with parents who can't be bothered to name their children well, and while "Buck" falls short of being an egregious name, it's no winner either these days. If he happened into the nickname, like James Melvin "Buck" Becannon or Ralph "Buck" Buxton, The Common Man would understand. In fact, there are 57 ballplayers and managers on baseballreference who were called either Buck or Bucky. Plus, there's Buck Leonard of the Negro Leagues. There's a Billy Buck (Bill Buckner), one Buckeye (Don Grate), four Buckshots (Glenn Wright, John Skopec, William May and Tommy Brown), and a Bucketfoot Al (Simmons). And the list is even missing Brian "Buck" Buchanan, who looked like he might make something of himself with the Twins in the early part of this decade. But of all these players, only Coats is actually named Buck. Given that he was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, maybe it's a cultural thing. But still, you've got the option, as a parent, of giving your child a decent name, and then saddling them with an embarrassing nickname. Why not give your boy the option of becoming a doctor or a lawyer before you consign him to work at the full-service gas station? The Common Man supposes it's lucky that Coats stumbled into the only other career where it's socially acceptable to be named Buck.
Taken together, the Bucks and Buckys have a lifetime record of 624-661, with a 3.95 ERA. The non-pitchers (The Common Man removed the pitchers so as not to skew the totals and considered Bucky Walters a pitcher for simplicity's sake) batted .278 with 15,933 hits, 646 home runs, and 6989 RBI.
Coats will probably end up somewhere between the awesomely named "Buck" Thrasher, who hit .255/.295/.330 (92 OPS+) for the Philadelphia A's over two seasons in the deadball era and Buck Redfern, who hit .218/.255/.257 (35 OPS+) for the White Sox in the '20s.
Finally, if history is any indication, Coats may have a managerial career in his future, as a disproportionate number of Bucks seem to end up at the helm. There's the aforementioned Harris, Ewing, Walters, and Dent, Buck Showalter, Buck Rodgers, Buck Herzog, and Buck Martinez. Their nicknames must give them some kind of folksy-wise vibe that team owners can't help but resist. Their combined record is 4694-4737 for a .498 winning percentage. They've won two division titles (Showalter), three pennants (all Harris), and two World Series (Harris again). And one of them (Rodgers) was fired from a team that won the pennant (Harvey Kuenn took over the '82 Brewers).