Six baseball players with Nebraska connections appeared in the 2019 Major League Baseball season, with four of the six playing their collegiate baseball in Lincoln. Alex Gordon (Kansas City Royals), Aaron Bummer (Chicago White Sox), Tony Watson (San Francisco Giants), Jake Diekman (Oakland Athletics), Dan Jennings (Washington Nationals) and Pat Venditte (San Francisco Giants) all made appearances in a big league uniform this year.
Alex Gordon: .267 BA, 13 HR, 76 RBI
Former Nebraska outfielder Alex Gordon carved out another solid year for the Kansas City Royals. Gordon’s bat vastly improved compared to his prior three seasons. His glove has been his one constant strength over his career as he had another great year in the field. The six-time Gold Glove winner finished the season with a .996 fielding percentage — having committed only one error all season. Gordon finished third on the Royals in batting average, RBIs and doubles.
Aaron Bummer: 2.13 ERA, 67.2 INN, 60 SO
A starter for Nebraska during his time in Lincoln, pitcher Aaron Bummer enjoyed a breakout campaign out of the bullpen for the White Sox, setting career bests in ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts. He had more innings pitched during the 2019 season than he did his previous two years and lowered his ERA by more than two points. Bummer was a go-to lefty out of Chicago’s bullpen and will likely enjoy a similar role next year after the best season of his career. Bummer finished No. 1 among Chicago’s relievers in ERA and innings pitched as well as third in strikeouts.
Tony Watson: 4.17 ERA, 54.0 INN, 41 SO
Former Husker and teammate of Gordon during his time as a Husker, pitcher Tony Watson, has enjoyed a stellar career. One in which he had never posted an ERA over four since his debut in 2011. He had four different seasons with an ERA sitting below three, two of which he enjoyed an ERA under two. He has been one of the most consistent relievers in the game during his career.
That being said, he had one of his worst seasons in the MLB, putting up a career high 4.17 ERA this season. That goes to show how good he has been because a low four ERA is widely considered average or slightly above average around the league.
Jake Diekman: 4.65 ERA, 62.0 INN, 84 SO
Wymore, Nebraska native Jake Diekman, has had a career flooded with inconsistencies. He has played all-star seasons and also complete duds. This year was the latter; although with his 84 strikeouts, he did show flashes of swing and miss stuff.
He was traded during the season from the lowly Royals to the Athletics to aid their playoff run. The A’s made the playoffs as the second American League Wild Card, so perhaps Diekman can attempt to bring the heat and contribute this October.
The final two players who made appearances were former Husker Dan Jennings, who pitched 4.2 innings for the Nationals as a September call-up, and Omaha native Pat Venditte who pitched 3.1 innings for the Giants in June.