Less than this, but more than that, makes it all good for dynamic dozen

Maybe we should call it the Big Papi Rule, after David Ortiz was able to rack up 91 more at-bats in the I-75 League than in real life for Savannah this year, leading to 11 more homers than in real life (46 vs. 35) and helping the Scorpions to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance.

Ortiz and 11 other players are in a select group who qualified for unlimited status for our 2016 season. They may have finished with fewer than 550 at-bats, but by virtue of earning more than 600 plate appearances, will be able to go wild as full-timers in I-75. Papi only played in 146 games for the BoSox in what will be his next-to-last season, but he can suit up for 160 for Savannah — though his numbers on one side (.231/.277/.426) suggest he might sit against some tough lefties.

Leading the way is Washington National and Superior Titan Bryce Harper, whose piddly 526 at-bats for the disappointing Nats could swell by 100 or so for the Titans. They can play the heck out of his 1.019 OPS because of his 124 walks, leading to 654 plate appearances.

Last guy in before the door closed was DH Billy Butler, a Tree Hugger and a lucky dog. His 538 at-bats was less than this, but his 601 plate appearances was more than that. So we decree thee unlimited.

First in line, but out in the cold: Detroit Tiger/Hickory Nut Nick Castellanos, who came up one shy on at-bats (549) and five shy (595) on plate appearances. Should not be a problem though, as he pretty much sucks against righties anyway.

So, without further ado, here’s the dynamic dozen players who earned unlimited status despite falling short of 550 at-bats:

  1. Joey Votto, Margaritaville (695/545) — Led the Western Hemisphere in walks with 143.
  2. Jose Bautista, Savannah (666/543) — 666! Maybe the devil made him do that bat-flip.
  3. Bryce Harper, Superior (654/521) — 42 homers, 1.019 OPS, age 23, God help the rest of us.
  4. Edwin Encarnacion, Satellite Beach (624/528) — Also only played 146 games.
  5. Alex Rodriguez, FA (620/523) — More HRs (33) than doubles (22) and didn’t hit for average (.250).
  6. Justin Upton, Satellite Beach (620/542) — Atrocious slash line vs. LHPs (.191/.258/.300)
  7. Logan Forsythe, FA (615/540) — Unfavorable splits, won’t get half of those PAs in our league.
  8. David Ortiz, Savannah (614/528) — Mashes righties (.292/.395/.613).
  9. Mike Moustakas, FA (614/549) — Perfectly balanced stats and second-round pick projection.
  10. Jason Heyward, Bismarck (610/547) — Five-tool player in the prime of his career (age 26).
  11. Neil Walker, Applegate (603/543) — Degenerating into a platoon player at age 30; 0 HRs vs. LHPs.
  12. Billy Butler, Boulder (601/538) — Borderline retainable; DH with a .251/.323/.390 slash?

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