Nevin Ashley & A Heart-Warming September

The date was September 9 when Nevin Ashley made his major-league debut. The 31-year-old had spent 10 years in the minors and played for 11 different teams before the Milwaukee Brewers called him up. In his big-league debut, Nevin went one-for-two with a line-drive double and a hit by pitch.

September can be a gloomy month. For most, it’s the signal that summer is coming to an end, school is about to start, and winter looms just around the corner. Not to count that it’s the final month of the regular season, and most baseball teams are already out of the playoff hunt. But, for some baseball players, the month of September can prove to shine a bright light.

The Milwaukee Brewers have had a dismal season. They have the second-worst record in the NL Central, and they’ve already reached 90 losses. But, perhaps worst of all, they were never in the playoff race to begin with. They got off to a bad start and were never able to recover. That being said, stories like the one of Nevin Ashley can bring a warm feeling to any Brewers fans heart. It represents the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication to the game of baseball, which has finally paid off, as Ashley has finally gotten his shot in the big leagues.

Tons of players get drafted to the big leagues every year, but very few of them ever make it to the majors. For hopefuls, though, like Ashley, the month of September is a good one as it’s the month that has the highest amount of big-league debuts.

(All data was gathered from ESPN‘s MLB debut database).

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Not only that, but there also seems to be a trend in the big leagues that more September call-ups are making their debut.

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September though isn’t just a bright light on players like Ashley, but also for younger players who are desperately trying to show what they’ve got.

This month, the Brewers, have also called up players who could behaved long-term worth to their big league roster, such as Yhonathan Barrios and Zach Davies. Both players were acquired earlier this season. Barrios was acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Aramis Ramirez, while Davies was acquired this trade deadline for Gerardo Parra.

Zach Davies, at this point, has gotten a longer look even though he has struggled thus far. In 27 innings pitched he’s amassed a 4.67 ERA. Davis was in Triple-A and if he’s able to turn things around, he could become a good long-term contributor to the Brewers, whether that’s in the bullpen or as a back-end starter.

Barrios, on the other hand, has only pitched 2.2 innings, and he’s given up no runs. September, will prove to be a good chance for Barrios, a young flamethrower, to really get his feet wet in the big leagues and gain some valuable experience.

As I’ve mentioned before, the September call-ups are not just a good opportunity for veterans like Ashley to finally get a shot, but also for young players to come up and prove their worth. In fact, the average age of players called up to the majors in September is 24.

(I didn’t include the month of March due to sample size issues).

Month Age Avg. Median STDEV
Sept. 24.2 24 2.13
Aug. 24.1 24 2.14
July 24.2 24 2.14
June 24.4 24 2.33
May 24.3 24 2.45
April 24.5 24 2.68

As you can see, the age is pretty much consistent throughout each month. Therefore, it doesn’t mean that veteran players are more likely to get a shot in the bigs in September, which makes Ashley’s accomplishment even more impressive.

The trend also shows that these age marks are very consistent. There’s almost no fluctuation from year-to-year.

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Spending 10 years in the minors can be tough, especially as one gets older, and that dream falls farther and farther away. The great part here is, even if this is Ashley’s only shot in the bigs, he can say that he made it. He made it to the big leagues and no one can take that away from him. He realized his dream, even if it didn’t last long.

Every year thousands of kids play baseball. They play on fields, in their back yards, at school, and at home, dreaming that maybe someday they’ll make it to the big leagues. Some day, they’ll get that one at bat that will be more rewarding than any other they’ve ever had. They dream that some day, they can udder the words; I played in the big leagues. But, for most kids that dream remains a dream, and it dies with their infancy.

Nevin Ashley, on the other hand, realized that childhood dream. On September 9, 2015, he found himself at the plate against the Miami Marlins, got a four-seam fastball middle up, and drove it for an RBI double. It was his big-league moment, the moment that so many aspire to have but never get to, and whatever happens from here on out Ashley will have that moment for the rest of his life, and no one can take it away from him.

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