2013 in brief: Whenever a minor leaguer most fans haven’t heard of manages to get some playing time in the bigs, that’s a good year.
2014 status: Likely spending another season in the land of red and green chilis with essentially no real chance of making a splash with the Blue…at least, we sort of hope not
I know, I know. I promised Yasiel Puig would be next. Unfortunately, I’m not done with it yet, and my time is limited today. So we’ll get to Puig tomorrow, and look at another outfielder today. This one is a contribution from the wonderful “Purple Drank” who would like to stress that he apologizes for any typos or errors within the article, as Drank is a beverage and does not have any hands to type with.
I am writing about the great Nick “Chili” Buss, which is frankly all you need to know about him. Heading into 2013, some of us knew who this Chili guy was but never ever had high hopes for him for obvious reasons. A kid with some local ties given his USC background, Chili was a steady developer throughout the minor leagues until he — like many others — decided to take advantage of the thin Albuquerque air and high altitude. Now, some Dodger fans know who he is… which is good if you are Chili Buss.
So rather than do some boring analysis on his altitude-infused stats and September callup, I decided to do a not-so ridiculous comparison.
Chili Buss is the AAA baseball equivalent of Walter White.
Now, before you freak out and think the meth business has no such parallel to the Pacific Coast League, let me present the facts.
Chili Buss was a 26-year old baseball player with some potential but his prime was passing by, only to rediscover his talents in the Albuquerque landscape and become the king of the Isotopes outfield.
Walter White was a 50-year old teacher with some potential but his prime was passing by, only to rediscover his talents in the Albuquerque landscape and become the king of the meth industry.
So now that we got that out of the way, let’s dig deeper into the Heisenbuss. (Yes, that is cheesy, but it works).
Chili really did start on the bottom of the Isotopes outfield depth chart in 2013. Understandably so, given that he was sharing an outfield with 4 other guys who played on the major league roster just the previous year.
But despite being the underdog, Chili found his calling in the Pacific League and built his empire — putting up a .303/.363/.525 line while being named an All-Star both midseason and postseason. That — combined with the on-and-off promotion of Scott Van Slyke, the disappointing play of Alex Castellanos, and the ‘they-clearly-have-no-chance-to-contribute-so-let’s-not-waste-our-time” duo of Tony Gwynn and Elian Herrera – moved Buss up the outfield depth chart, and earned him a mid-September promotion to the show.
When Buss was called up, he actually continued to play thanks to the division being wrapped up and a plethora of injuries and deaths by members of the outfield. But while he was the one who knocked on the promotion, he did not do too much knocking after that, garnering 2 hits in his 19 at-bats — going hitless in his last 12.
Like Mr. White, Chili fell hard in September. And while it wasn’t Emmy-worthy like his counterpart, Buss’ performance wasn’t exactly a wasted effort. There is something to be said that Buss physically played the game of baseball while Kemp was euthanized and Ethier was recovering from what would turn out to be just a sprained ankle. But on the whole, it was pretty damn lackluster.
The outlook for Chili remains bleak, with the Dodgers still having 4 major league outfielders plus the highly-regarded Joc Pederson figuring to surpass him sooner than later. At 26, he’s not exactly young and upcoming, and odds are he’s destined for a career of AAA baseball depth whether it be with the Dodgers or some other organization.
But hey, his accomplishments in 2013 moved him up the depth chart, roam the beautiful outfield of Chavez Ravine, and hear his name pronounced by the great Vin Scully…something not a lot of aspiring baseball players can claim to. All in all, not a bad year, wouldn’t you say Mr. White?
Next! Yasiel Puig, for reals!