Lindbergh: The minor league leaders who haven’t made it

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus on April 9, 2014:

If you haven’t heard of Guilder Rodriguez, don’t beat yourself up. Until fairly recently, I hadn’t heard of him either. Rodriguez is a 30-year-old Venezuelan middle infielder in the Rangers system who just started his 13th minor-league season. In those 13 seasons, he’s played in over 1000 games, made close to 4000 plate appearances, and hit one home run, back in 2009 with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. Rodriguez has played parts of the past five seasons in Frisco; if he were any good, either the fine folks of Frisco would’ve built him a statue by now, or he would have spent more time in Triple-A. But between his makeup and his ability to play shortstop, he’s soldiered on as an organizational guy, going weeks—and in one stretch last season, well over a month—without an extra-base hit.

Rodriguez really hasn’t had any competition for the title of “Least Power in Pro Baseball” since fellow career minor leaguer Carlos Rojas retired. And although Ben Revere might be making a run, Rodriguez has no recent big-league equivalent. Among major leaguers of the last 60 years, only Duane Kuiper and Frank Taveras (who played in a lower-power era) showed the same sort of staying power without hitting more home runs. Only two major leaguers have made as many plate appearances with as high a ratio between their OBP and SLG as Rodriguez’ career minor-league line (.338/.283), and both played during the Deadball Era.

The point is that the minor leagues contain multitudes, and their depths remain largely unexplored. We’ve all spent some time at the popular tourist spots, but today we’re going to go diving for wrecks. These are the players who lead all active minor leaguers in a certain statistical category and have never gotten into a major-league game. For each guy, I’ll give you some background and an explanation of why his cup of coffee still hasn’t come. (Note: We don’t have stats from Independent ball in our database. Rate stat leaders for position players are min. 2,000 PA; for pitchers, min. 1000 IP with a fudge factor (2*(G-GS)) to include relievers.)

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Originally published: April 9, 2014. Last Updated: April 9, 2014.