Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Mike's Baseball Rants


10  09  07 
06  05  04  03 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
Links to MBBR
Juan Red Rookie
2004-09-21 12:24
by Mike Carminati

The 2004 Cincinnati Reds had an opening-day roster with not one first-year player on it. That's not that unusual. However, the Reds proceeded to play over 130 games, brought players up, traded for players, expanded their roster for September, and yet did not add one player to the roster who had never played in the majors before.

Then on September 4, the picked up rookie pitcher Juan Padilla on waivers from the Yankees. Padilla is a rookie (I'm using the term "rookie" to mean first-year player throughout, though baseball has a more technical definition to determine eligibility for the Rookie of the Year awards). However, Padilla did pitch six games earlier in the year for the Yankees.

That means that the Reds will likely spend the entire season without a player appearing in his first major-league game. That seems pretty unusual but is it? Let's check.

Here are all of the teams throughout baseball history who qualify in descending chronological order:

Kansas City RoyalsAL1994.557
San Diego PadresNL1984.568
Detroit TigersAL1983.568
Milwaukee BrewersAL1979.590
San Diego PadresNL1975.438
Baltimore OriolesAL1971.639
Cincinnati RedsNL1966.475
Milwaukee BravesNL1965.531
Philadelphia PhilliesNL1952.565
St. Louis CardinalsNL1926.578
Pittsburgh PiratesNL1918.520
Boston Red SoxAL1916.591
Brooklyn SuperbasNL1900.603
New York GiantsNL1897.634
Boston BeaneatersNL1892.680
New York GiantsPL1890.565
Brooklyn BridegroomsAA1889.679
Chicago White StockingsNL1889.508
New York GiantsNL1889.659
New York GiantsNL1888.641
New York GiantsNL1885.759
Cleveland BluesNL1881.429
Troy TrojansNL1881.464
Providence GraysNL1880.619
Boston Red CapsNL1878.683
Hartford Dark BluesNL1876.691
St. Louis Brown StockingsNL1876.703
Boston Red StockingsNA1874.743
Baltimore CanariesNA1873.607
New York MutualsNA1873.547
Philadelphia AthleticsNA1873.549
Baltimore CanariesNA1872.648
Philadelphia AthleticsNA1872.682

It's happened just thirty-three times, and just twice in the last twenty seasons. That's pretty rare.

You'll also notice that for the most part these teams have been pretty successful veteran clubs. Only four had sub-.500 seasons, and their average winning percentage is .597. The 2004 Reds don't fit that mold. Usually when a team has a losing season for the second year in a row, like the Reds, they try some new blood. Unfortunately, the Reds were fooled by their first-season success momentarily and apparently don't have much fresh meat in the minors.

Now, the Reds are also not the first team on the list to have one first-year player who first played with another major-league team earlier in the year. The 1889 American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms (grandsire of today's Los Angeles Dodgers) had one first-year player, Charlie Reynolds, a catcher who played one game on May 8 with the AA Kansas City Cowboys before appearing in 12 Brooklyn contests.

The 1881 NL Cleveland Blues had a player, Bollicky Bill Taylor, a pitcher-outfielder-third baseman who appeared in games for the Worcester Ruby Legs (forerunners of the Phillies, 6 games) and Detroit Wolverines (1) earlier in the season. Taylor went on to win 43 games in 1884 as the majors expanded briefly to three major-leagues but would only win a total of fifty for his career. He also managed to squeeze in 61 games behind the plate though he apparently was not a catcher when he came up.

All of this rookie talk got me to thinking of the reverse. Were there any teams comprised solely of rookies, and how did they fare? We'll it's kind of a trick question. Here's the answer:

TeamLgYr# RookiesTot #Rookie %W PCT
Boston Red StockingsNA18711111100.00%.667
Chicago White StockingsNA18711111100.00%.679
Cleveland Forest CitysNA18711313100.00%.345
Fort Wayne KekiongasNA18711818100.00%.368
New York MutualsNA18711111100.00%.485
Philadelphia AthleticsNA18711313100.00%.750
Rockford Forest CitysNA18711111100.00%.160
Troy HaymakersNA18711212100.00%.464
Washington OlympicsNA18711515100.00%.500

Well, when you're the first major league, everybody who plays for you will be a rookie. How about the next highest percentage of rookies? Here are the ones over 75%:

TeamLgYr# RookiesTot #Rookie %W PCT
Altoona Mountain CityUA1884161794.12%.240
Middletown MansfieldsNA1872111291.67%.208
St. Louis Red StockingsNA1875111291.67%.211
St. Paul ApostlesUA1884101190.91%.250
Milwaukee BrewersUA1884101283.33%.667
Brooklyn AtlanticsNA1872182281.82%.243
Louisville EclipseAA1882172180.95%.525
Baltimore MarylandsNA1873151978.95%.000
Richmond VirginiansAA1884151978.95%.286
Kansas City CowboysUA1884395078.00%.203
Brooklyn EckfordsNA1872202676.92%.103
Wilmington QuickstepsUA1884152075.00%.111
Washington NationalsUA1884385174.51%.190

Still, these are old teams, many from new leagues. How about in the "modern" era? Here are the ones since 1900 comprised 50% or more of rookies:

TeamLgYr# RookiesTot #Rookie %W PCT
St. Louis CardinalsNL1902172762.96%.418
Philadelphia AthleticsAL1915355662.50%.283
Kansas City PackersFL1914132454.17%.444
Philadelphia AthleticsAL1908203754.05%.444
Chicago OrphansNL1902213953.85%.496
Chicago Chi-FedsFL1914152853.57%.565
St. Louis CardinalsNL1911203852.63%.503
St. Louis BrownsAL1911244652.17%.296
Detroit TigersAL1912275350.94%.451
Boston AmericansAL1901122450.00%.581
Chicago White SoxAL1921173450.00%.403
Philadelphia AthleticsAL1943224450.00%.318

The highest since 1950 were the second-year 1963 Houston Colt .45s nee Astros at 44.44% (20 of 45 players). Here are the highest since 1950. Note that the post-World Series Marlins had the highest percentage of rookies in the last ten years:

TeamLgYr# RookiesTot #Rookie %W PCT
Houston Colt .45'sNL1963204544.44%.407
Philadelphia AthleticsAL1954153839.47%.331
San Diego PadresNL1969154235.71%.321
Pittsburgh PiratesNL1952164535.56%.273
Boston BravesNL1952123435.29%.418
Florida MarlinsNL1998174934.69%.333
San Diego PadresNL1978133834.21%.519
Detroit TigersAL1995154533.33%.417
New York MetsNL1995154533.33%.479
St. Louis CardinalsNL1954123633.33%.468

You may also notice that teams with a high percentage of rookie players are just not that good. Very few have winning records. I ran the numbers to see if a high percentage of rookies correlates to a poor winning percentage. Basically, do (mostly) veteran teams perform better? Well, it does correlate but not very strongly (.335 correlation coefficient). I guess it's best to get the better players no matter what experience level they are. Eventually, I'll expand this study to look at veteran teams based on years of experience and see if that corresponds better to winning, but that will have to be another day.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.