Who is Trent Hubbard? I was wasn't sure who he was when I heard his name. A comment on High Heat Stats mentioned that Trent Hubbard and Jim Rivera are the only two players to play every year from age 30-39 but play no other years.
It left me scratching my head, I didn't remember Trent Hubbard. After some digging I quickly realized he is the same guy as Trenidad Hubbard who I barely remembered. After his long journey through the minor leagues he decided on the more exotic sounding Trenidad but is listed as both Trent and Trenidad depending on where you look. As a Tigers fan I don't catch a lot of National League games so Hubbard, who played most of his career in the Senior Circuit, wasn't that well known to me. As I looked at Hubbard's career I became more and more intrigued by his long pro career.
Hubbard had a 20 year pro career as a speedy right-handed outfielder. He played college ball at Southern University and was a 12th round choice of the Houston Astros in the 1986 draft. Hubbard split time his first year at low-A Auburn between secondbase and the outfield. He showed his versatility the next year catching two games and mopping up once on the mound. As his career progressed he played all over the diamond but mainly played secondbase and outfield but continued to catch 10 to 30 games for several years.
Hubbard at 5'8" was not a big guy and his main asset on offense was his quickness on the basepaths. He stole 30-40 bases a year and by '89 had advanced to AAA. His career was stuck in neutral as he shuttled between AA Columbus and AAA Tucson. He began to get on base more often and in his 28 year old season in '92 he hit .310/.380/.381 for the Tucson Toros. His window as a prospect however was closing and he was released at the end of the year. The Rockies picked him up and placed him in Colorado Springs. An ideal player for any minor league team, he put up an .840 OPS and played all over the diamond.
Returning to Colorado Springs in '94, Hubbard hit like never before putting up a .363/.441/.538 line in 79 games. Having turned 30 on May 11, he finally got the long awaited call to the big leagues in July. His first action came on July 7th but he went 0-3 against the Marlins. He had to wait eight days for his next chance when he pinch hit and legged out a infield single in a 10-6 win over the Cardinals. Hubbard continued as a pinch hitter and made a few starts hitting .280/.357/.520 in 28 plate appearances.
His performance in '94 wasn't enough to keep him in the majors and Hubbard found himself back at Colorado Springs in '95. After putting up a .920 OPS in 123 games he was promoted in August. He carried his production over to the big leagues with a .926 OPS in 67 trips to the dish for the Rockies.
In the meantime Hubbard founded a sports apparel company called Game Face, and designed their logo. It went bankrupt after three years with major leaguers Brian Jordan and Danny Cox among the investors.
Hubbard finally made an opening day roster in '96 and had a pinch-two- RBI double in the Rockies first game of the year, a 5-3 win over the Phillies. Hubbard struggled in the bench role however, and was hitting just .217 in July when he was demoted to the minors. As usual he clobbered AAA pitching in the thin Colorado Springs air and when the Rockies purchased Steve Decker from San Francisco in August they released him to make room on the 40-man roster. The Giants filled their vacant spot on the roster with Hubbard. He played just ten games for the Giants and was sent to the Indians in the offseason as part of the Jeff Kent / Matt Williams deal.
Hubbard played just seven games for the Indians in '97 but proved he could hit at sea level with an impressive .312/.401/.504 stat line at AAA Buffalo. The Indians unimpressed, let him sign with the Dodgers where he was the surprise starter in centerfield on opening day in '98. Injuries shelved him for five weeks during the summer months and after a stint back at AAA, he returned to a bench role. His production on the year was not too shabby as he batted .298/.358/.452 in 208 at bats.
The Dodgers put Hubbard at AAA Albuquerque in '99 but summoned him to LA in May. He played well off the bench batting .314 in 105 at bats. Hubbard even flashed some of his versatility with three innings behind the plate. He signed in the offseason with Atlanta and was part of a deadline deal to the Orioles. He hit an identical .185 for both teams but the year 2000 had been a victory of sorts as he avoided the minors for the first and only time in his career.
Hubbard was a late roster cut of the Blue Jays in the spring of 2001 and he signed with the Royals. He played just five games for KC before he was released. The Cubs signed him and he spent the rest of the year at AAA Iowa. He spent the majority of the 2002 season on the Padres bench hitting .209 but was released in September.
In 2003 Hubbard signed with Oaxaca of the Mexican League and played a dozen games for the Guerreros before they sold his contract to the Cubs. Except for ten games midyear for the Cubbies he spent the rest of the year back at AAA Iowa. Hubbard spent the entire 2004 season at Iowa batting .330/.409/.463 in 542 plate appearances normally a performance that would have scouts and general managers dreaming of the possibilities. But at 40 years old Hubbard was about 15 years too old to be a prospect and was just hoping to get another shot in the majors. Hubbard played for three franchises in 2005- Astros, Cubs, and Rays yet but was unable to make it back to the majors.
After 20 pro seasons Hubbard finally retired. In 16 of those seasons Hubbard saw action at AAA where he put up a .317/.400/.468 line and overall he had over 1,800 hits in the minors. In 864 major league plate appearances in the majors he hit .257/.333/.382 with an OPS+ of 86. Although essentially a replacement level player (-0.4 career WAR) his versatility and on base ability made him a valuable AAA player.
The well traveled Hubbard wore eleven different uniform numbers in the majors and never wore the same number for two different teams. Currently he is a minor league outfield instructor for the Rockies. He kept the Game Face name and logo alive and can be found here on Twitter.
By my count Hubbard played in 22 different teams in his pro career. Here they are in chronological order. Of course he shuttled back and forth making multiple stops in the same city several times along the way. Note Oaxaca (20) in the Mexican League is below the southern edge of the map