20th Anniversary Team Voting – Third Base
19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
We’ve made our way “around the horn” on the infield and have arrived at our final position there: third base. Ducks fans have been able to watch several outstanding players man the hot corner for the Flock over the past 19 seasons. Third base has seen its share of sluggers, stout defenders, former Major Leaguers and those seeking to reach “The Show” for the first time. Our three nominees for the coveted third base slot on the 20th Anniversary Team account for a mixture of all those attributes. While there are many deserving candidates for the role, here is the trio eligible for selection:
Throughout the history of the Long Island Ducks, a total of 18 players have reached the Major Leagues after playing with the Flock. The first-ever to accomplish the feat was third baseman Carlos Baerga. His time on Long Island was short, as he played with the Ducks only in 2001. Prior to that, he had spent 10 seasons in the big leagues, making him one of the most experienced and well-known players to sign with the club to that point. The veteran made an immediate impact in his 53 games played, compiling a .315 batting average and a .383 on-base percentage. Baerga totaled nine homers, 44 RBIs, 38 runs, 64 hits, and 19 walks to just 24 strikeouts in that span. His numbers were worthy of an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. MLB teams took notice of his performance, and by December of 2001, he had signed with the Boston Red Sox with the chance to make the club in spring training. Sure enough, he spent all of 2002 with the Boston Red Sox and would go on to play three additional seasons in “The Show” after that.
Our second nominee for third base came to the Ducks with just one year of MLB experience, playing with the Red Sox in 2002. However, he had a pair of stints with the Ducks and forged a brilliant Atlantic League career. Bryant Nelson first joined the Flock in 2007 after beginning the year in the Mexican League and after making his ALPB debut with Bridgeport in 2006. He would bat .268 with eight homers and 39 RBIs in 77 games, earning another opportunity in Mexico to begin 2008. “Nellie” returned to the Ducks to play 14 games at the end of the 2008 regular season. After going on to spend time over the next three years with three separate Atlantic League teams (Camden, Lancaster and York), he rejoined the Flock for their back-to-back championship seasons of 2012 and 2013. Nelson was a big part of both titles, playing over 120 games, collecting over 70 RBIs, totaling over 135 hits, scoring 72 runs, and hitting 30 doubles in each season. One of the most clutch players in team history, his biggest moment came in Game Five of the 2012 Liberty Division Championship Series when his eighth inning two-run homer sent Bethpage Ballpark into a frenzy and sent the Ducks to the Atlantic League Championship Series for a second consecutive season. Nelson earned an All-Star Game selection in 2013 as well before hitting .278 during the Ducks championship run that year.
Though his Ducks career began at second base, Cody Puckett shifted over to the hot corner shortly thereafter and went on to forge a five-year career thus far with the Flock. Puckett manned second base while Chris McClendon and Brendan Harris played third in 2014, but a year later, he became the full-time third baseman and has been there since. The California native’s first three seasons were a model of consistency in a Ducks uniform, as he played over 120 games, hit over .270 and scored over 60 runs in each. Puckett was selected as an Atlantic League All-Star in 2015 and helped lead Long Island to a postseason berth that same year as well as a Liberty Division championship in 2016. His career took a hit though in 2017 after suffering a season-ending knee injury in late-May, but his work ethic and never-give-up attitude came into the spotlight thereafter. Through a dedication to rehab and training, Puckett was able to earn a spot on the 2018 Ducks roster out of spring training and spent a full, healthy season on Long Island that year. In his five seasons with the Flock, Puckett has totaled 529 hits, 252 RBIs, 238 runs, 79 doubles, and a .270 batting average in 514 games.
You’ve learned all about our nominees, and now you get to make your voice heard. Head on over to our voting page to make your pick for the third baseman on our 20th Anniversary Team. Vote early and vote often over the course of this next week to help determine the player that is a cut above the rest. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our three nominees for the left field position.
Posted on January 4, 2019, in 20th Anniversary Team and tagged 20th Anniversary Season, 20th Anniversary Team, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Bryant Nelson, Carlos Baerga, Cody Puckett, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, Long Island Ducks, Third Base, Voting. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.