What’s In a Number? (Part 1)

Over time, exceptional players become associated to the number they wear on their back. In fact, in many cases, these exceptional players are honored at the conclusion of their career by having their jersey number “retired” by the team or teams that they were most closely associated with.

Here, we take a look at who we view as the top player for selected popular shirt numbers.

#1.  KEVIN KROHN (P, Calgary)

The 29-year-old Krohn is just in his fifth year in the Bull League, but has already cemented his reputation as the top player to wear the #1 on his back. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, he debuted with the Calgary Inferno in 2013 nailing down a 4-1 record and 23 saves, a 1.96 ERA and 0.70 WHIP, earning him both a Rookie of the Year Award and a Woodchuck Trophy for his superb efforts as a reliever.

#2. DANNY “THE RAJAH” HUERTERO (RF, CALGARY)

Dallas-born Huertero is just near the beginning of his baseball career, and has a solid reputation as an intelligent, talented hitter. He’s proved it time and time again. The Rajah hit a career high .321 in 2015, taking the AEL title for doubles that same year with 32. He struggled with injuries last year, but appears to be in fine form for 2017 so far, currently riding a hitting streak since June 10.

#3. ALAN “DANGEROUS” ISIMO (3B, RIMOUSKI)

Isimo is a level-headed, patient hitter who chooses his moments and at age 38 can still unleash power at the plate. With nearly 200 home runs in his career, a respectable .264 career average, and career 37.3 WAR, he lives up to his nickname for being dangerous at the plate.

#4. OSCAR BARAJAS (RF, CHICAGO)

The Venezuelan once had a 23-game hitting streak, and has developed a reputation as a fierce out. Just ask Jake Figurski, Kingston Cannons hurler, against whom Barajas is 9-for-18 over his career, and Montreal’s ace Judson Martel, who has given up 6 hits in 15 at bats to Oscar — including 3 homers. Nevada’s top starter, Jonas Reyes, has similarly been stung by Barajas’ bat, giving up hits in half of their 10 meetings. Pitchers throughout both leagues do a double-take when they see the number 4 on the back of a jersey.

#5. ROBERTO CASTRO (SS, CHICAGO)

The 24-year-old Cuban is just in his sixth year in the league, but is quickly becoming one of the top shortstops ever to play. Outside of his reliable hitting – a .261 career average and .695 OPS – he is also a phenomenal fielder with 225 career double plays at shortstop. Like any classic shortstop, he has speed to boot, and successfully steals 70% of his attempts.

#8. BRUCE ABERTO (CF, BOSTON)

Bruce Aberto has become synonymous with the #8 jersey.

Bruce has shown drive, talent and leadership since his debut in the Bull League with the Boston Brawlers in 2011, becoming one of their most important offensive assets. He has twice won the Gold Crown at center-field for his bat magic. In 2013, he led the Lake League in hits and doubles, and took the batting title last season with a .336 average.

#9. TYRONE O’SAURUS (C, OHIO)

The Oxen won the lottery when they signed Tyrone out of Mexico in 2006 as an international prospect. By 2012, he was tearing up A-level and earned a promotion straight to AAA Toledo. In his first two seasons at the top level he hit 17 home runs in both years, 2014 and 2015. The next year, he refined his swing and hit a career high .254 while putting 22 balls over the fence, and earned a reputation as a clutch player for his postseason performances in the 2016 playoffs, crowning the year by being named 2016 Bull Cup MVP.

#10. NATE KREMER (P, JACKSONVILLE)

Kremer has carved a name for himself as a dominant closer in a league filled with great relief pitching. Just 26, and in his 4th season, the Diamond Bar, California native already took the saves title for the last two seasons in the AEL, winning a Woodchuck Trophy in the process for his awe-inspiring 2015 performance: 29 saves, 0.92 ERA, 62 K’s in 39.1 innings. Kremer’s choice of jersey number is fitting — with him pitching, teams rarely see a 10th inning against the Ravens.

#12. Peyton MAY (2B, MONTREAL)

May has spent his entire career as part of the dangerous run machine that is the Montreal Metros. The 30-year-old native of Windsor, Ontario is a solid offensive and defensive player, who anchors the top half of the Metros lineup. Career hitting stats include a .271 average, .802 OPS, and nearly 600 hits in 2100+ at bats.

#15. ALEX MEDINA (P, TORONTO)

Signed out of Cuba, like so many other great baseball players in the league, Medina uses his fastball/changeup combination to devastating effect against hitters, amassing over 900 strikeouts in first eight seasons at the top tier. As of the end of 2016, he had a record of 52-34, winning a Sandy Koufax Award in his final year with Kingston before signing to Toronto for the 2015 season. In his award winning season, he was 9-1 with a 2.02 ERA, and a league-leading 166 K’s for a K/9 of 12.4. Medina’s worth was recognized by Toronto, who will pay him the second highest salary in baseball this season: $37.5 million.

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