What might have been: Projecting 10 MLB interrupted careers

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 10: Players observe a moment of silence for deceased pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 prior to the Royals 2017 home opener against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on April 10, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 10: Players observe a moment of silence for deceased pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 prior to the Royals 2017 home opener against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on April 10, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Projecting what might have been?

Every so often, the career arcs of established stars or promising youngsters present MLB fans with that intriguing question. Whether by death, serious injury, scandal, or outside intervention, life occasionally has a way of interfering with career arcs.

Here we are looking at 10 of the MLB’s most fascinating players and projecting “what might have been.”

Our subjects are players who established themselves either as stars or potential stars, and then – either by fate, war, or their own carelessness – saw their careers aborted. A few, who lost time in mid-career, were able to return and pick up those careers.

Most of the players on this list, however, saw their careers terminated ahead of schedule. Five of those careers ended in death, one in incapacitating injury, and one in scandal.

Projecting what somebody might have done is obviously a risky business, so take these numbers with a grain of salt. There are, however, two valid ways of at least speculating on what might have occurred.

If the player had built up enough of a career record – especially if he was at some point able to return – we can at least base our speculation on what he actually did before and his forced absence.  Projecting in that fashion isn’t a perfect technique – especially with a pitcher his post-return performance might of course have been altered by the wear and tear he avoided thanks to his enforced absence.

In the cases of younger players, though, the actual career record may not be extensive enough to do serious projecting. In those cases, we need to rely on comparables. What did similar players do during the portions of their own careers that occurred following the departure of the player in question?

Our order of presentation is chronological, beginning with one of the great MLB stars of a century ago and continuing into the present one.