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Congressional baseball rosters facing shake-ups next year

Elections and retirements mean some top players won’t be back

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, left, collides at home with GOP Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois in the 2019 Congressional Baseball Game. Next year, neither will be in Congress.
Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, left, collides at home with GOP Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois in the 2019 Congressional Baseball Game. Next year, neither will be in Congress. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While Republicans are on pace to expand their ranks on Capitol Hill in November, their baseball roster is going to take a hit with the loss of some key players. Republicans have won only two of the past dozen Congressional Baseball Games, including a 13-12 victory last year, so they can’t afford to lose too many good players.

Two-term Rep. Anthony Gonzalez has been one of the Republicans’ most valuable players. In two games, the Ohio congressman and former NFL wide receiver has gone six for eight with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs and three runs scored, according to statistics compiled by Nathaniel Rakich of FiveThirtyEight. 

The pain from his absence from next year’s roster is somewhat self-inflicted. Gonzalez is not seeking reelection after being effectively pushed out of the party after he voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

Rep. Kevin Brady is also not seeking reelection, which means Thursday night’s game at Nationals Park will be the last one for Republicans’ most experienced player and one of their most productive. Over 12 games, the Texas congressman is batting .379 with 11 hits, five RBIs and two runs scored. He also has an on-base-percentage of .550, which means he’s gotten on base more than half the time he’s been at bat, with the help of getting hit by a pitch three times.

Republicans are also losing Rep. Rodney Davis, who lost a member-vs.-member primary to his colleague Mary Miller. The Illinois congressman has been solid at the plate with a .412 on-base percentage, two doubles and two RBIs over eight games. But he’s also been a stalwart behind the plate as a catcher for the GOP. 

[Climate protesters will risk arrest at Congressional Baseball Game]

The charity game Thursday night could also be the last for a handful of other Republicans who have seen limited action on the diamond. 

Rep. Mike Garcia of California is running for reelection in a race rated as a Toss-up by Inside Elections. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania is favored to win but faces yet another competitive race. 

Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama left his seat for an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. Rep. Steven M. Palazzo lost renomination for his Mississippi seat. And Texas Rep. Van Taylor dropped out before the primary runoff when a provocative scandal surfaced

Democrats are not immune to losing players as well. 

Rep. Tom Malinowski, one of Democrats’ most valuable current players, is in a very competitive race for reelection. In the past two games, the New Jersey congressman is batting .600 with a double, an RBI, six stolen bases and two runs scored.

Democrats are also at risk of losing access to Rep. Tim Ryan, who is running for the U.S. Senate and is not on this year’s roster. In eight previous games, the Ohio congressman is batting .500 with a double, a triple and a whopping 12 RBIs, the most of any current member.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado is not seeking reelection. He’s a career .250 hitter with three stolen bases and eight runs scored. It’ll be New York Rep. Tom Suozzi’s last game after his unsuccessful run for governor. He’s gone hitless in five at-bats over four games. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan is on this year’s roster and could lose reelection in Indiana’s 1st District, but he hasn’t played in the past. Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon has played in the past and went one for two with four runs scored. But he lost renomination and is not on this year’s roster

Going against their own baseball interest, Texas Republicans made it easier for Democratic Rep. Colin Allred to win reelection in the Dallas suburbs by giving him a more Democratic district. The former NFL player has hit .333 in two games with two doubles and an RBI. He’s not at risk of losing reelection this year. 

Even though Democrats are at significant risk of losing their House majority, they will at least add some new members in open seats who could end up helping out the party on the field. From GOP open seats to Democratic takeovers, Republicans could have dozens of new members to choose from when putting together their roster next year.

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

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