One of the things I’ve been meaning to take a look at this season is players who have accumulated a bunch of service time in the minor leagues without getting a shot at the majors.
I finally got around to it today. Using the team pages at Baseball-Reference (which bolds those players that have major league experience and lists each player’s age next to his name), I looked for players who were born in 1983 or earlier and have accumulated either 1,000 games played of 300 games pitched.
It’s not perfect, of course. I’m fairly certain there are players born in 1984 who have 1,000 games under their belt. I’m certain there are pitchers of that age with 300 appearances. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list. All I’m trying to do is throw a spotlight on some players that have been toiling in the bus leagues for years and years without ever getting the call.
Here are the position players, listed oldest-to-youngest:
Wes Timmons (7/12/78) – Sacramento (Oakland, AAA) – 11 years, 1027 games
Chase Lambin (7/7/79) – New Orleans (Miami, AAA) – 11 years, 1125 games
Doug Deeds (6/2/81) – Salt Lake (Los Angeles, AAA) – 11 years, 1007 games
Kevin Howard (6/25/81) – New Hampshire (Toronto, AA) – 10 years, 1030 games
Adam Heether (1/14/82) – Salt Lake (Los Angeles, AAA) – 10 years, 1043 games
Michael Spidale (3/12/82) – Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia, AAA) – 13 years, 1313 games
Corey Smith (4/15/82) – Birmingham (Chicago, AA) – 13 years, 1530 games
Manny Mayorson (3/10/83) – Harrisburg (Washington, AA) – 13 years, 1283 games
Carlos Sosa (5/19/83) – San Antonio (San Diego, AA) – 12 years, 1055 games
I’ve had a chance to talk to a couple of these guys the past two seasons, Spidale and Howard, and it’s really interesting to gain the perspective of someone in their position. When I spoke to Spidale, he was working on his fifth consecutive season in Reading and wasn’t sure where he’d be this year. He spent the first month this year in Double-A before moving up to Lehigh Valley for his first crack at Triple-A since 2009. It’s hard to say whether or not he’ll make it, but he’s giving it the ol’ college try.
Another guy who came up just short with 872 games played in eleven years but still had to be mentioned was Guilder Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a name I’ve run across before, for a different project that I worked on a couple years ago but never posted: in those eleven seasons, 872 games, and 2,749 at-bats, he has hit exactly one homerun, a three-run shot off of Northwest Arkansas’s Gilbert De La Vara on May 30, 2009.
Also worth noting: there are a bunch of guys pushing thirty who have been around for a long time but only have a few hundred games to their credit. A few are infielders, outfielders, and utility men, but most are backup catchers. While they are an important part of this equation (even if you don’t play a ton of games each year, it still means something if you ride the buses and get ready to play every day), I’m not diving into that area right now. I just wanted everyone to remember that they’re there.
And now, here are the pitchers that have been waiting a long time for the phone to ring. As hinted at above, this is a far less comprehensive list than the one for position players. The appearances requirement biases it towards relievers, I think, and there were at least a few pitchers who had 300 appearances but missed the age requirement. Still, this gives us a few guys to root for:
Matt Yourkin (7/4/81) – Fresno (San Francisco, AAA) – 9 years, 359 games
Scott Rice (9/21/81) – Albuquerque (Los Angeles, AAA) – 14 years, 454 games
Jean Machi (2/1/82) – Fresno (San Francisco, AAA) – 10 years, 347 games
Joe Torres (9/3/82) – Colorado Springs (Colorado, AAA) – 12 years, 322 games
Jim Henderson (10/21/82) – Nashville (Milwaukee, AAA) – 10 years, 300 games
Mike DeMark (5/20/83) – Reno (Arizona, AAA) – 7 years, 317 games
Josh Schmidt (11/14/83) – Jacksonville (Miami, AA) – 8 years, 306 games