Pitchers Lead Playoff Parade in The Show
By Bo Carter
College Correspondent, sportsandoutdoors.guru
DALLAS – As Major League Baseball teams enter the 2014 playoffs, several of the 49 alumni from current Big 12 Conference schools have played key roles in helping their teams make postseason runs.
And here’s a list not many have paid attention to (except for maybe Big 12 coaches, parents and avid fans) from throughout the campaign and into postseason activity.
There were 19 hitters/fielders and 30 pitchers on MLB rosters or 2014 disabled lists, and several are among the starters for playoff squads Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington.
Some examples who come quickly to mind are Kansas City Royals’ rookie Brandon Finnegan of TCU – the first player from the 2014 free agent draft (17th player chosen overall) and a standout who provided key relief in spot appearances for KC in September; St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter, out of TCU, was coming off a 2013 season when he broke Stan Musial’s Cardinals team record for doubles with 55; the Los Angeles Angels’ closer Huston Street of Texas with several key saves during the LA runaway title in the SEC West; and Pittsburgh’s Jordy Mercer with a career majors’ year after starring at Oklahoma State.
The ’14 playoffs also mark the first postseason activity for former Texas QB Adam Dunn, who was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Oakland Athletics at midseason. Dunn is in his 14th season and leads Big 12 school products with 462 home runs and 1,168 RBI since 2001.
In 2013 there were 34 alumni of Big 12 schools on opening day and 18 received a later summons. The 2014 season began with 31 alums on MLB rosters before 18 came up in subsequent days.
Big 12 pitchers also have performed a solid eclipse of last year’s 57-66 composite mark with 83 wins against 76 losse. They also set an all-time record for strikeouts this year with 1,423 over 1,662-plus innings hurled to topple the 2011 composite circuit mark of 1,396 whiffs in 1,775.1 innings.
The conference at season’s end lost one of the longest-standing managers and Big 12 school veteran Ron Gardenhire who played for College Baseball Foundation Hall of Fame head coach Cliff Gustafson at Texas. Gardenhire has been reassigned in the Minnesota Twins’ organization after 13 seasons at the Twins’ helm and 1,000-plus wins – second all-time among Minnesota chiefs behind Tom Kelly.
DOWN ON THE FARM – Kansas alumnus and rookie Brett Bochy (Kansas) also became the first player in MLB history to pitch for his father, Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy…OU standout Garrett Richards is out for the season after going 13-4 overall to lead all former standouts from the loop because of a severe knee injury…Several Big 12 stalwarts such as West Virginia’s Vince Belnome, Texas’ Omar Quintanilla, Texas Tech rookie Daniel Columbe, and former Oklahoma State lefty Tyler Lyons had sterling years in AAA ball and worked themselves back into The Show.
Three great comeback stories among pitchers for 2014 were A.J. Ramos of Texas Tech (7-0 with Marlins), Scott Atchison of TCU (the last active MLB player to play in the Southwest Conference in 1996 at 6-0 with the Indians) and Jake Arrieta of TCU (10-5 as the season-ending ace of the Cubs).
Big 12 alumni who played at least one game for 2014 postseason teams at one time included:
Baltimore Orioles – None
Detroit Tigers –Bryan Holaday, TCU; Corey Knebel, Texas (later traded to Rangers)
Kansas City Royals – Brandon Finnegan, TCU
Los Angeles Angels – Garrett Richards, Oklahoma; Dustin Richardson (AAA), Texas Tech; Huston Street (traded from Padres)
Los Angeles Dodgers – Daniel Coulombe, Texas Tech; Sam Demel (AAA), TCU; J.P. Howell, Texas
Oakland A’s – Adam Dunn, Texas (traded from White Sox)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Matt Hague (AAA), Oklahoma State; Jeff Karstens (season-long disabled list), Texas Tech; Jordy Mercer, Oklahoma State; Andy Oliver (AAA), Oklahoma State
St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Carpenter, TCU; Sam Freeman, Kansas; Tyler Lyons, Oklahoma State
San Francisco Giants – Brandon Belt, Texas; Brett Bochy, Kansas
Washington Nationals – Greg Dobbs, Oklahoma (traded from Miami)
For a complete listing of Big 12 alumni final stats, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.