Featured Cards: 1987 Fleer Glossy #185, Juan Samuel; 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP142, Jon Pettibone; 2006 Topps Phillies Fan Appreciation Day #11, Brian Sanches; 2003 Topps Traded Signature Moves Autographs #SMA-ER, Elizardo Ramírez
I don’t believe that anyone will argue with me when I state that non-contending teams are far more likely to allow players to make their MLB debut than teams who are competing for a chance at the playoffs. Of course, even the best teams will make room for prospects who they feel will be mainstays on the roster over the coming years — see Juan Samuel’s nearly full-time role during the September stretch-run back in ’83. But, generally speaking, the greater the number of rookies making their Major League debut in a given season, the less likely that the team is playoff bound. Let’s take a look at the number of Phillies debuts since 2000, along with team performance:
2013 (so far, 16-20): 1; Pettibone
2012 (81-81): 8; Galvis, Ruf, Cloyd, Lerud, Rosenberg, Diekman, Aumont, Brummett
2011: 5; Martinez, Savery, Stutes, Schwimer, De Fratus
2010: 3; Worley, Herndon, Brown
2009: 2; Bastardo, Escalona
2008: 4; Carpenter, Marson, Harman, Swindle
2007: 7; Kendrick, Zagurski, Happ, Segovia, Castro*, Bisenius, Hernandez,
2006: 7; Hamels, Mathieson, Coste, Ruiz, Bourn, Roberson, Sanches
2005: 3; Sandoval, Brito, Tejeda
2004: 4; Howard, Floyd, Ramirez, Crowell*
2003: 5; Madson, Utley, Geary, Chapman, Machado,
2002: 4; Byrd, Myers, Silva, Junge,
2001: 6; Michaels, Punto, Duckworth, Estrada, Valent, Oropesa
2000: 8; Rollins, Burrell, Coggin, Nickle, Taylor, Álvarez, Schrenk, Jacquez
The number of debuts doesn’t track perfectly with team performance (see 2004, 2005 & 2011), but as a general indicator and when looking at trends it does pan out rather nicely. There’s a to-be-expected sustained dip in debuts during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons and correspondingly higher numbers for 2000 & 2001 — you could argue that 2012’s high number is the direct result of a team that realized it wasn’t making the playoffs and thus decided to give some of its AAA stars some big league exposure.
We’re only 36 games into this season, but based on the Phillies’ performance thus far, my hopes for the postseason are exceedingly dim. I just don’t think this is anything more than an average team. I really hope I’m wrong, but I see a good chance at some July trades which will necessitate a number of other MLB debuts before the close of the season. My predictions: Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Morgan and Jesse Biddle all appear at some point this year. Leandro Castro and Tommy Joseph see outside chances at playing as well.
* Castro’s debut was actually with Texas at the start of the 2007 season, but he is included since he also pitched for the Phillies that year. Crowell actually pitched twice with the Reds in 1997, but those were also his only appearances in the majors before pitching for the Phillies in 2004. I’m bending the rules slightly here to make a point (he was still eligible as rookie in 2004).