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Checking in on the ghosts of Yankees past playing in the Mexican League

The Mexican League is extremely hitter friendly, and that leads to some funny stats.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Mexican League is officially classified as Triple-A in the Minor League Baseball system. Unlike the International League and Pacific Coast League, none of the teams that compete are affiliated with a major league team. However, one similarity that it does have with the IL and PCL is that it is filled with ex-major leaguers hanging on.

Another thing about it of note is that it is an extreme hitters league. Just as an example, there is a player named Rodolfo Amador, who plays for the Acereros de Monclova, the team who finished with the best record. You probably aren’t aware of Amador, and for good reason. Not only as he never played in the majors, he’s never played in the system of a major league team. His entire career is in the Mexican League. You would figure if he was a good player, he would have been picked up by a team at some point. Yet, he’s put up a .326/.376/.501 triple slash line this season. Even guys who have never gotten much of a look from major league teams can put up excellent numbers in the Mexican League.

Plenty of former Yankees have taken part in the Mexican League. Some of them you recall, some of them you may not. Many of them have put up some amusing numbers in Mexico this season.

You may remember Chris Carter as the reigning NL home run champion who the Yankees signed as first base insurance in 2017. He didn’t really repeat his home run feat the following year, hitting just eight in 62 games with the Yankees. He also didn’t bring much to the table besides that, and was released in July of that season.

Carter is still active in Mexico this season, and hit 49 home runs. However, things go beyond that. He’s also walked 115 times in 120 games, good for a stellar .449 OBP. That is more than one-third of his his career walk total in MLB. Had he walked at that same rate in the majors, he would’ve done it 600 times in his eight-year career. In reality, he only actually managed 327 free passes.

Luis Cruz was one of the anonymous infielders brought in to try and fill third base during the very weird 2013 campaign. Since you know he played in 2013, you can safely assume he wasn’t good. He went 10-59 as a Yankee that season, and only one of those hits was for extra bases. His OPS+ was a feeble 19.

Well, put him in the Mexican League, and it turns out he’s a slugging machine. Cruz has 27 home runs, which is nearly quadruple the amount he hit in over 600 major league at-bats. His .623 slugging this season is higher than his career major league OPS.

Ramiro Pena was a 2009 World Series champion with the Yankees, but is also known for being one half of this gif. He hit like the utility infielder that he is in the majors, but down in Mexico he has a .924 OPS.

Remember Ruben Rivera? Yes, the cousin of Mariano Rivera who played for the Yankees in 1995 and ‘96. Well, he’s still playing. His last major league game was 16 years ago, but he’s still giving it a go at age 45. It appears father time overrides the Mexican League’s hitting magic, as he has just a .572 OPS. However, as recently as 2018, that number was over .900.

To highlight just one pitcher, Sergio Mitre has pitched for two different Mexican League teams in 2019. He has a 6.10 ERA, because some things never change.