Nola and Bregman headline 2018 MLB Hometown Heroes from LSU
LSU has a history of supplying its share of players to Major League Baseball, especially after the Skip Bertman era began in 1984. Some of the more notable players from the past include Connie Ryan, Alvin Dark, Joe Adcock, Albert Belle, Ben McDonald, Paul Byrd, Aaron Hill, and Brian Wilson.
According to the 2018 LSU Media Guide, the Tigers had at least one former player make his MLB debut in 25 of the past 27 seasons, as of 2017.
This year’s crop of former LSU Tigers in the major leagues numbers 13, led by current all-stars Aaron Nola and Alex Bregman. Furthermore, another 23 former Tigers appeared in minor, independent, and foreign professional leagues this season, led by Joe Broussard’s performance in Triple-A.
Here’s a rundown of the major leaguers. Their years at LSU are noted in parenthesis
Aaron Nola (2012-2014) had a breakout season this year, with impressive stats that included 17 wins, 2.37 ERA, .0975 WHIP, and 9.5 SO/9. As a result, he is one of three top candidates for the National League Cy Young Award. He was the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies staff, as they contended for the East Division title for part of the season. Nola was selected to his first all-star team.
Alex Bregman (2013-2015) has been the most consistent position player for the Houston Astros this year, as they look to repeat as World Series champions. The third baseman compiled career highs in home runs (31) and RBI (103), to go along with a slash line of .286/.395/.532. He could easily finish in the top five for the AL MVP Award voting. He was selected to his first all-star team and competed in the Home Run Derby.
Louis Coleman (2006-2009) made 49 relief appearances in his first season with the Detroit Tigers. He compiled a 4-1 record and 3.51 ERA, primarily as a middle reliever. Coleman had previously played in six major-league seasons with the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kevin Gausman (2011-2012) season turned for the better when he was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. In nine starts with the Braves, he posted an impressive 5-3 record and 2.87 ERA, helping the Braves cinch their first NL East Division title since 2013. With the Orioles he had a 5-8 record and 4.43 ERA in 21 starts.
Nick Goody (2012) went on the disabled list in early May after an arm injury that ultimately sidelined him for the rest of the year. In 12 games for the Cleveland Indians prior to the injury, he compiled a 0-2 record and 6.94 ERA. In 2017, Goody had appeared in 56 games in relief for the Indians.
Will Harris (2004-2006) pitched in his fourth season for the Houston Astros in 2018. The reliever appeared in 60 or more games for the third year with the Astros. He compiled a 5-3 record, 3.49 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, and 10.2 SO/9. An American League All-Star in 2016, he made three relief appearances in the 2017 World Series without yielding a run.
JaCoby Jones (2011-2013) played his first full major-league season with the Tigers this season. The outfielder finished with a slash line of .207/.266/.364, 11 HR, and 34 RBI.
DJ LeMehieu (2008-2009) played his seventh season with the Colorado Rockies, who secured a wildcard spot for the second straight year. His slash line was .276/.321/.428 with 15 HR and 62 RBIs. It was the first time in four seasons the second baseman hit below .300. He has previously been a two-time all-star and Gold Glove winner and led the National League in batting average (.348) in 2016.
Mikie Mahtook (2009-2011) split the season between Detroit and Triple-A Toledo. A teammate of Jacoby Jones and Louis Coleman with Detroit, the outfielder logged a slash line of .202/.276/.359, 9 HR, and 29 RBI in 67 games.
Nick Rumbelow (2011-2013) was in his first season with Seattle in 2018 and his second season following Tommy John surgery in 2016. He appeared in 13 games in relief during five stints throughout the season with the Mariners. The balance of his season was spent with Triple-A Tacoma.
Ryan Schimpf (2007-2009) appeared in five games with the Los Angeles Angels early in the 2018 season, after being acquired from the Atlanta Braves on March 31. The third baseman was sent down to Salt Lake where he appeared in 30 games (.178/.288/.355) before being released in late May. His best major-league season occurred in 2016 when he hit 20 HR in 89 games for the San Diego Padres.
Andrew Stevenson (2013-2015) served primarily as a reserve outfielder in his 57 games with the Washington Nationals. He had a slash line of .253/.306/.329 in 75 at-bats. In his 77 games with Triple-A Syracuse, he hit .235 with 6 HR and 28 RBIs.
Jason Vargas (2002) is the dean of former LSU players currently in the majors. In his 13th major-league season, he pitched for the New York Mets, after being signed by them as a free agent over the winter. In between several stints on the disabled list, he managed to get 20 starts, compiling a 7-9 record and a whopping 5.77 ERA. He had led the American League with 18 wins for the Kansas City Royals in 2017.
Minor League Position Players
Minor League Pitchers
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New Orleans baseball historian
Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.