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Article: St. Paul Saints & American Association Overview

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#1 kevinluckow

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:00 PM

The American Association is unique in that it is one of the few leagues that isn’t affiliated with a professional team. It is arguably one of the most successful independent leagues, with its roots going back to 2005. The league currently has 12 teams split up into two divisions, with a 13th team on track to join the league next season.Four of the teams are the original founders of the league who are still playing today. The league got its start when the St. Paul Saints, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers and Sioux Falls Canaries all left the Northern League. They were joined by teams from the Central Baseball League, which was folding at that time. The St. Joe Blacksnakes were the 10th team in the league, which initially played a 96 game schedule, though that has since increased to 100 games.

Business Model
The league operates as a independent entity from affiliated teams, meaning that there is no parent club to pay for each team’s expenses. The league has set a salary cap for each team of $125,000. Rookies are paid a minimum of $1,200 per month.

Roster Rules
The league remains competitive due to a few reasons, but one of the most influential is the roster rules that each team must follow. Each team is limited to 23 active players at any given time. Each player is categorized by their years of service.

A year of service for American Association players is 75 official at-bats or more in a National Association (i.e affiliated minor league) or independent league or leagues, or 30 innings or more pitched. For independent and short season/rookie league service, the first two years of service equals one National Association year. For foreign players, the classification and salary level will be determined by the league office.

They are then slotted into categories from rookie (less than one year of service), LS-1 (less than two years, LS-2 (less than 3 years), LS-3 (etc.), LS-4, LS-5 and finally veterans, who have more than six years of service. In addition, if a player has six or more years of service but has not reached the age of 26 by September 1 of that season, he will be considered an LS-4. If he has not reached the age of 24 by September 1 of that season, he will be considered an LS-3.

These are important because there are limits on how many of each category a team can have at one time. For example, each team must have a minimum of five rookies and a maximum of five veterans. The remaining players can be any combination of service times, with the rule that only six may be designated as LS-4.

Right now, the Saints have five veterans on their roster, including former MLB pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen and first baseman Brady Shoemaker, who has spent time in the past with the Saints.

Transaction Rules
While the league is independent, it does employ similar transaction rules as affiliated teams use. The main rule is a player who is released must wait 10 days before being re-signed by the team that released him. Trades are quite common in the league, and while you do see typical player-for-player or player-for-cash swaps, fans also commonly see players traded to another team for a player to be named later. There are plenty of occurrences where the player to be named later has been the same player who was traded in the first place.

Teams are able to place a maximum of two players on the disabled list, where they must remain for seven days before being eligible to be activated. Players can be placed on the DL retroactive to their injury, which can’t be longer then the last time they appeared in a game.

Current Teams
The league currently sits at 12 teams, with a 13th team scheduled to begin play in Milwaukee in 2019. The North division is made up of the Chicago Dogs, the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, the Gary Southshore Railcats, the St. Paul Saints, the Sioux Falls Canaries and the most recent league champions the Winnipeg Goldeyes. The South Division consists of the Cleburne Railroaders, the Kansas City T-Bones, the Lincoln Saltdogs, the Sioux City Explorers, the Texas Airhogs and the Wichita Wingnuts.

Most Successful Teams
The Winnipeg Goldeyes have won three league championships, including each of the last two. The Wichita Wingnuts hold the league record for runner-up finishes with four. The Wingnuts have one league title, which came in 2014 after they swept the Lincoln Saltdogs 3-0 in the championship series. Other current teams to have won championships include the Gary Southshore Railcats (2013), the Saltdogs (2009) and the Sioux Falls Canaries (2008). The Texas Airhogs won the 2011 championship when they were known as the Grand Prairie Airhogs.

Notable Alumni
One of the most notable alumni is Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, who spent the 2006 season with the Fort Worth Cats. Twins fans will recognize some of the names of past players including Caleb Thielbar and Brandon Kintzler. Former Twins outfielder Jason Repko played for the Sioux Falls Canaries during the 2015 season. Kevin Millar, who was on the Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2004 played for the Saints at the start of his career in 1993. Twins Finally, TV analyst and Hall-of-Fame inductee Jack Morris spent a short stint with the Saints in 1996. The Saints have yet to win a championship in the American Association, but have had many great seasons and are at the top of the North Division this year. They return to CHS Field this weekend for a six-game homestand with the Sioux Falls Canaries and Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. The homestand will feature promotions such as Star Wars Night (June 8) and Toni Stone bobblehead giveaway (June 11.) Grab tickets at saintsbaseball.com.

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#2 Broker

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:35 PM

Thanks for this info. I've been wondering about it.


#3 rydley

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 08:50 AM

Same here! Great overview. (Actually makes me more interested in going to a game for the first time in ages!)


#4 SirLoin

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 12:35 PM

Please tell me the Milwaukee team is going to be called the Beers....


#5 StevieLarson

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 11:15 PM

I'm glad that I could provide it! 

Thanks for this info. I've been wondering about it.

 


#6 StevieLarson

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 11:15 PM

Come on out, tickets are cheap! Plus you can see a winning baseball team in action!

Same here! Great overview. (Actually makes me more interested in going to a game for the first time in ages!)

 


#7 StevieLarson

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 11:16 PM

I wish that was the case, but here are the 10 finalists: Crop Dusters, Cheesers, Farmhands, Haymakers, Broilers, Barn Owls, Cow Tippers, Bovines, Milk Men and War Pigs

Please tell me the Milwaukee team is going to be called the Beers....