What’s In a Number? (part 2)

In the previous part we looked at some of the top players wearing iconic jersey numbers from 1 to 15. Here, we look at the rest of the numbers memorable for the incredibly talented, popular players wearing them.

#16. JAVIER “Dr. JEcKYLL” CHAVARRIA (C, DENVER)

Domincan-born Javier has a reputation across the league for being a skilled hitter and tough out, with middle-of-the-order power.Now into his 9th season in the Bull League, his first six were in Nevada, where he was voted onto the AEL All-Star team five times and led the league in doubles one year (31 in 2010). He then moved on to Denver for the 2015 season and immediately made an impact, taking the AEL’s Most Valuable Player title, and the Gold Crown Award at the catcher position for his slash line of .338/.424/.685, league-leading 31 homers, and 73 runs scored.

#20. CODY “CRIME SPREE” MARTIN (3B, CALGARY)

Martin was drafted in 2009 by Calgary, and was named the #1 prospect the following year, finishing 2010 with a .309 average after notching 25 hits in 81 at bats in his rookie year. It took two more seasons for him to find his power stroke, however, and by 2012 he was into double-digit homers with 11 that year. He hasn’t looked back since then. He took the home run and RBI titles in 2014 after knocking 33 over the fences and driving in 80 runs, and had the tater title again in 2016 with 26. A clutch player, he has three career slammers, all of which have come in July.

#27. RICKY RODRIGUEZ (P, JACKSONVILLE)

The Cuban-born Rodriguez is a 4-time Sandy Koufax Award winner and six-time all-star, who is almost certainly going to find himself in the Hall of Fame by the end of his illustrious career. It is doubtful that many other pitchers can claim to have held a league ERA title six times in their careers, but Ricky has, putting him at the #2 spot on the lowest career ERA leaderboard with 2.42, behind only Hall of Famer Iron Arm (2.23). He is notoriously tough to hit or walk off, and is in the pole position at the top of the career WHIP list, at just 0.96, the only pitcher on the list with a career WHIP under 1.00.

#31. TAKEO “EASY” OTOMO (1B, ANCHORAGE)

Otomo wears #31 for Anchorage, and is one of the top HR hitters in the AEL

The Japanese sensation, Takeo Otomo, has amassed career numbers through 17 years at the major level that will certainly find him in the Hall of Fame in short order. The key to his success as a batter has been his ability to hit to hit to any part of the field with considerable power giving him the home run title four times in his career, including the single-season record of 41 homers he set in 2009 (with Nevada). A six-time Gold Crown Award winner at both an infield and outfield position, he has also earned a Most Valuable Player nod, and ten trips to the all-star game. He is one of the few batters in the AEL who seems to have Ricky Rodriguez’ number, going 6-for-11 against the hard-to-hit righty. Otomo is forever associated with his iconic #31 and it’s a safe bet that both Nevada and Anchorage will consider retiring the number at the close of his career.

#42. FRANCISCO ERAZO (2B, KINGSTON)

While several great players have worn and continue to wear the number 42, Erazo will undoubtedly etch his name over the number in the history books of the Bull League when his time is done. For the past ten seasons no one in the Lake League has earned more free bases on walks than Erazo, who is zen-like in his disciplined approach at the plate, earning him over 1,100 career walks – only the second batter to break the 1,000 barrier, which he did in 2015. He has since surpassed Hall of Fame hitter Carl Simms, who had previously held the record at 1,098. Erazo’s two MVP awards, and seven Gold Crowns make him one of the most decorated offensive players in Bull League history. Add to that his two playoff MVP trophies and 15 trips to the all-star game, and it is easy to see why he was such an important figure for Boston, Montreal, and now Kingston. He not only earns free bases, but when he hits he can hit with power, giving him seven career Grand Slams, quite possibly a league record.

#83. Angelo Rodriguez (P, JACKSONVILLE)

There is a petition to rename the “strikeout” to the “Angelo” and one reason why is that no other pitcher has so thorough dominated this statistic through their career than Angelo Rodriguez. Surprisingly, it is a category he is far from setting a single-season record in (his best year was 2012 when he struck out 167, putting him at 15th on the all-time list). But he consistently leads in K’s year after year among AEL pitchers, taking the strikeout title six times in his career. He is the only pitcher to break the 2,000 strikeout barrier, smashing it in 2016, well ahead of Niek Rodriguez of Battle Creek (1,910 at the beginning of 2017), and nearly 500 more than the top Hall of Famer on the career strikeout leaderboard.

 

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