Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Lugnuts and the Big Leagues

In my research for the magazine cover story, I came across Mark Walker's letter to the Lansing State Journal, published on September 14, 1995.

"The description of Lugnut baseball in the Lansing State Journal's Welcome 95 supplement as '...players will have as much chance of making the major leagues as winning the lottery...' is inaccurate on two levels.

"First, about one of every 10 athletes who sign a professional contract make it to the major leagues.  Since not all players even advance to Class A, a realistic projection is that three or four players from each club will make it.

"More importantly, for those who do reach the big leagues, it will be the result of dedication, desire, determination and hard work.  Equating success through effort with 'winning the lottery' should be discouraged.  We should be so lucky."

Mark's mostly right.  Dedication, desire, determination, and hard work have so much to do with it, but a player needs luck on his side, too.  The slightest health issue, for instance, might derail a promising career.  A player also needs the opportunity to open up above him.  If no opportunity opens, he's stuck hoping he'll get traded.

I'd add, too, that baseball history is littered with lazy major leaguers burning paychecks and hardworking minor leaguers who will never get their shot.  The game isn't always cut and dried.  It most definitely isn't always fair.

As far as the Lugnuts' rosters have gone with regard to Major Leaguers, here are the totals so far.

1996 - 7 Major Leaguers
1997 - 8
1998 - 10
1999 - 6
2000 - 7
2001 - 9
2002 - 11
2003 - 11
2004 - 11
2005 - 5
2006 - 0
2007 - 1 (Travis Snider)
2008 - 2 (Marc Rzepczynski, Brad Mills)
2009 - 0

Mark's realistic projection of three or four players?  The Lugnuts regularly doubled and tripled that expectation while a Royals (1996-1998) and Cubs (1999-2004) affiliate.  We'll see what happens with the Blue Jays prospects in the years to come.

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