A quick scan through the National League Central rosters reveals a lot of the same names fans have come to see year after year. However, the name on the front of the jersey changes more often than you may realize. The St. Louis Cardinals have been called the 2004 Houston Astros after the additions of Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, and potentially Roy Oswalt. The Reds have been called the 2008 Cardinals with all the former players former Cardinal GM Walt Jocketty brought over after being ousted at the end of the 2007 season. Even the other four teams in the division seem to have a lot of players that have been with other teams in the NL Central. Why does it matter? I suppose it may not that much, other than it is a slow Hot Stove week and this seems like a fun topic to dig into. So here is my version of “Where Are They Now?”, NL Central Edition.
I looked at each team’s 40-man roster and noted each player that is currently active and has played for more than one NL Central team. I then broke down the percentage of players in the division that have played for more than one NL Central team, and finally the number of players in the division that have played for more than one team in their career as a percentage of players who have played for more than one NL Central team.
Clear as mud?
Twenty-two of the 240 players (1 out of every 7) on active NL Central rosters have seen major-league playing time on another team within the division. Here’s the list:
Brewers(7): Nyjer Morgan (Pirates), Jose Veras (Pirates), Aramis Ramirez (Pirates, Cubs), Alex Gonzalez (Reds), Randy Wolf (Astros), Chris Narveson (Cardinals), Corey Patterson (Cubs, Reds, Cardinals)
Cardinals (2): Lance Berkman (Astros), Carlos Beltran (Astros)
Here’s where it gets interesting….
I looked at how many players on each teams’ current active roster have played for at least one other team in their career.
Astros – 17
Brewers – 15
Cardinals – 11
Cubs – 17
Pirates – 16
Reds – 13
From there, I took the numbers from above (players with games played for more than one NL Central team) divided by players that have moved teams at least once. Here are the percentages:
Astros: 4/17 23.53%
Brewers: 7/15 46.67%
Cardinals: 2/11 18.18%
Cubs: 2/17 11.76%
Pirates: 2/16 12.50%
Reds: 5/13 38.46%
Any player traded or signing with another team as a free-agent has a 5/29 (17.2%) chance of landing with another NL Central team. I found it very interesting that the actual percentage came in eight percentage points higher. Much of this can be accredited to Walt Jocketty bringing several former Cardinals to Cincinatti, but the Brewers actually have the highest percentage of recycled NL Central players on their roster. Once Jeff Luhnow and the Astros head to the AL, I anticipate the ratios going down as he may pluck several free agents from his former division and former club (Cardinals).
This topic was significant to me if for no other reason than the Cardinals play 77 games within the division in 2012. The teams will know each other well just from the sheer number of times they play each other. But it must also be taken into account that the players know each other well because 25% have played for other teams in the division. I have not researched the other divisions in baseball or the other major sports, but I would be hard-pressed to believe any other division would come in at higher than 25% “recycled player ratio”. If someone out there is interested enough to do the research and prove me wrong, it sure would make for an interesting off-season research project!