Swing and a miss.
Why we like him: As you probably already know, I love nicknames for players, and especially players that are so mired in anonymity that their nickname is the only reason to think about them. Now, clearly "Hard Hittin'" Mark Whiten sounds more like a bantamweight fighter than a mediocre outfielder, but at least it made him memorable. If you're going brand yourself with that moniker, however, you should probably back it up.
After working his way through the Blue Jays system, Whiten found himself competing for a precious spot on a crowded outfield roster. The flash-in-the-pan emergence of Junior Felix in Toronto forced the Jays to make a change and midway through the 1991 season, they shipped Whiten to Cleveland in a package that sent Tom Candiotti the other way. Even with the change in scenery, Whiten finished in a tie for 6th in AL Rookie of the Year voting with Mike Timlin in 1991 after playing for both the Blue Jays and the Indians.
Whiten bounced around like ping pong ball for most of his 11-year career, landing in Philly, St. Louis, Atlanta, Boston, the Bronx, and Seattle in addition to Toronto and Cleveland. "Switch Hittin'" Whiten was traded frequently, usually in the middle of the season, simply because he wasn't good enough to build around, but he also wasn't bad enough to go unwanted. He was an average right fielder with a plus arm, but his bat just never really made him a prized possession of any of his clubs. For a guy called "Hard Hittin'," I'm pretty sure this was unacceptable. I mean, in his absolute best season, 1993 with the Cards, he hit 25 homers and drove in 99 runs. He never even hit 20 home runs in any season other than that one.
It's been said that a big reason for "Bloop Hittin'" Mark Whiten's numerous travels was simply his lack of focus. Whether during a single game or the course of an entire season, he could show you glimpses of some pretty impressive talent (and an absolute hose of an arm), and immediately thereafter slump badly enough to make his GM want to trade him away for a bottle of Pepto. He was just a rollercoaster ride year after year. But somebody was always ready to give him another shot.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Whiten, Ballplayer.