12-year MLB vet Julio Lugo dies at 45

November 15th, 2021

Longtime Major League infielder , who played for seven teams over 12 seasons (2000-11) has died at age 45.

Lugo played four seasons apiece for the Astros and Rays (then-Devil Rays), as well as three for the Red Sox, winning a championship ring with Boston in 2007. He also had stints with the Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers and Orioles.

Lugo was born in Barahona in the Dominican Republic but went on to play at Connors State (Okla.) College before the Astros selected him in the 43rd round of the 1994 Draft. Not many players drafted so low go on to enjoy significant big league careers, but Lugo would eventually appear in 1,352 MLB games and accrue more than 5,300 plate appearances.

The right-handed batter debuted with the Astros on April 15, 2000, playing 116 games in a solid rookie campaign. By the next season, he was the regular starting shortstop on a club that won 93 games and the NL Central. In '03, Lugo was arrested outside of Minute Maid Park for misdemeanor assault against his then wife, Mabel. Houston released him and he was acquitted later that year.

Lugo’s best seasons would come with Tampa Bay from 2003-06. In 505 games for the club over that span, he batted .287/.350/.421 with 40 home runs, 212 RBIs and 88 stolen bases, posting 13.5 WAR, per Baseball-Reference.

Lugo signed with the Red Sox in December 2006 and started 139 games at shortstop the following season. He batted .385 with a .962 OPS in Boston’s four-game sweep of Colorado in the '07 World Series.

Lugo’s younger brother, Ruddy, also made it to the Majors, appearing in 102 games as a right-handed pitcher for Tampa Bay and Oakland from 2006-07.