Baseball fans were dealt a swift reminder on Wednesday that the league's service time rule, as it pertains to organizations calling up prospects, is all sorts of flawed and defective.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant lost his service time grievance against the league, despite registering 650 plate appearances and playing in 151 games during his rookie season in 2015.
Unfortunately, the former NL MVP wasn't the first young stud to be utterly screwed by MLB's outlandish precedent. Let's highlight a few of those players, shall we?
5. Kris Bryant
Yes, Bryant's case is worth reiterating, because the ruling he was handed on Wednesday was that despicable. The three-time All-Star absolutely raked in Spring Training back in 2015, but wasn't awarded a spot on the Cubs' opening day roster because of the aforementioned rule that permits franchises to champion control in free agency over merit. And one of the most blatant cases we've ever seen was just upheld. Great. The rules are eternal.
4. Ronald Acuña Jr.
Because teams can so deliberately tamper with this loophole, the Braves took advantage and delayed the promotion of Acuña in 2018, who predictably went on to hoist the Rookie of the year Award after hitting .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 16 stolen bases, all while delivering a sensational effort in the outfield. Yet that didn't qualify as a full season because he only spent 159 days in the MLB, 13 short of the 172 threshold. Again, he was awarded the freaking Rookie of the Year award! How is that not a season? What a joke. Naturally, the Braves doubled down by later signing RAJ to a way-too-cheap extension.
3. Bryce Harper
Harper's former joke of a predicament shares uncanny parallels to that of Acuña. The Nationals, like Acuña's Braves, went on to make the postseason during Harper's first season. However, Harper, though being as qualified as a minor leaguer could be, wasn't promoted until mid-April. Care to guess how long his MLB stint lasted in 2012? Like Acuna, 159 days. It would be nice if a contending team didn't feel the need to be actively worse for 10-to-20 days for a big gain later on, huh?
2. Pete Alonso
When we look back on Alonso's world-beating rookie campaign, in which he shattered Aaron Judge's previously set records for home runs in a single season, we are utterly dumbfounded as to how he wasn't called up prior to 2019. Unfortunately, the answer stares us right in the face. Now, he's already 25 years old, and only has one year of MLB experience under his belt when he should have at least two or three. MLB's collective bargaining agreement is literally shaving years off the careers of young superstars. Don't believe us? The Polar Bear hit .285/.395/.579 across Double- and Triple-A in 2018, AND the Mets were rolling with a Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce committee at first base down the stretch that year.
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The predicament that once surrounded Guerrero is downright indefensible considering his sheer demolition of minor league pitching. Folks, Vlad Jr. slashed 402/.449/.671 (!) in Double-A, before compiling a .336/.414/.564 line at Triple-A in 2018. Because of the aforementioned threshold, the Blue Jays opted to roll with Aledyms Diaz at third base, claiming Guerrero needed to work on his defense. Sir. That is abominable. If not for Bryant, he'd be the ultimate posterboy.