Fort Wayne's All-Time Best Roster in Franchise History
April 7, 2020
While the COVID-19 outbreak delays the start of the 2020 baseball season, let's take a moment to look back on the first 27 years of Minor League Baseball in Fort Wayne. From the infancy of the Wizards in 1993 to the present day, more than 1,000 players have put on
While the COVID-19 outbreak delays the start of the 2020 baseball season, let's take a moment to look back on the first 27 years of Minor League Baseball in Fort Wayne. From the infancy of the Wizards in 1993 to the present day, more than 1,000 players have put on a Wizards or TinCaps uniform. Of those, 188 players have eventually made it from the "260" to The Show. The list of alumni includes All-Stars, Gold Glove winners, a batting champ, and even Cy Young winners.
What if we tried to form a "super team" out of Fort Wayne's big league alums? And then, what if we put our roster up against the rest of the best from around the Midwest League? Well, that's exactly what we're doing.
In an effort led by the Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League Madness is a bracket featuring a field of 16, with each club putting forth its "all-time" roster.
Officially announcing... MWL MADNESS!
Celebrating the Midwest League's rich history of baseball talent by pitting the best all-time teams against one another.
Now, let's break down Fort Wayne's All-Time Roster. Actually, before we do, in case you missed it, make sure to check out our own bracket of 16 that crowned Fernando Tatis Jr. as the top player in the franchise's history. Like you'd imagine, there's an overlap of these franchise great players.
As you see in the graphic at the top of this page, these all-time rosters consist of eight position players, plus a designated hitter, five starting pitchers, and two relief pitchers.
There's no exact science to assembling such a team. But here's some insight into how we made our choices...
A player's success in Major League Baseball was most heavily weighed. For example, when it came to picking a third baseman, Chase Headley, received the nod over someone like Sean Burroughs. In our top-player-in-franchise-history bracket, we excluded the likes of Headley, Chris Paddack, and Joakim Soria, as they each had just a short stint in Fort Wayne -- in Headley's case, four regular season games in 2005. However, in this scenario, we're going with the approach that if they played at all as a Wizard or TinCap, they're eligible. (For comparison's sake, Lansing's lineup includes Carlos Beltrán, who had just a .353 OPS with 11 strikeouts to one walk for the Lugnuts in 11 games in 1996.) So even though Sean Burroughs holds multiple single-season franchise records after slashing .359/.464/.479 (.943 OPS) in 122 games in 1999, his big league numbers over parts of seven seasons (5.5 WAR) don't quite stack up with Headley (25.9 WAR).
Again, to be clear, this is not a perfect system. It's challenging to evaluate the careers of retired players versus active players, especially young ones on the rise. Feel free to disagree. That's part of the fun (or frustration) of an endeavor like this.
Also, we utilized some flexibility when it comes to positioning. Case in point, since two of the clear-cut qualifiers for this are Fernando Tatis Jr. and Trea Turner, who are both primarily shortstops, we shifted Turner to second base, where he has played 42 times in his MLB tenure.
Why He's Here: The only everyday player from the Fort Wayne area in the franchise's history; Ossian, Ind., native and Norwell High School alum; as a 19-year-old in 2014, led the TinCaps into the Midwest League Playoffs by driving in all four runs in a 4-0 victory at Bowling Green on the final day of the regular season in a must-win game; had the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning of postseason opener against higher-seeded West Michigan to spark series upset; overcame broken leg suffered during April 2015 game to return in August
Why He's Here: In 2019, at the age of 25, ranked 5th in the National League in xFIP -- a stat that's similar to ERA but focuses solely on the events a pitcher has the most control over (strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by pitches, and home runs); still considered an up-and-coming starting pitcher for the Braves
Also considered: INF Corey Koskie, OF Will Venable, C Nick Hundley, SP/RP Oliver Perez, RP Brad Brach, RP Brandon Kintzler
First round voting of MWL Madness will take place until Friday, April 10, with the Elite Eight running from April 14-17, the Final Four running April 21-24, and the Championship decided during April 28-May 1.