I can't remember this sort of thing happening this many times in one season before. Three veterans who did not play in the Major Leagues last year, and who you had to figure wouldn't play in the Major Leagues ever again:
1. Jay Gibbons. He hadn't played a big league game since 2007, and hadn't played close to a full season or put up a WAR above 0.2 (per Baseball-Reference.com) since 2005. He was relegated to an independent league in 2009. He was raking in AAA this season, however, and now Gibbons, age 33, is hitting a hilariously unlikely .326/.380/.652 in his first 50 PA for the Dodgers and has probably nabbed himself a backup outfielder job for next season.
2. Jay Payton. Guess it's a Jay thing. Payton's nearly 38 and missed all of 2009 after suffering an injury in spring (though he'd probably played himself out of a big-league job anyway). He was awesome in AAA for the Rockies this year, though, and he was called up on September 8 (too late to be a part of a potential Rockies postseason, unless they find a loophole). After a three-for-four in his first start last night, He's five for his first nine with two doubles.
3. Dan Johnson. After a promising start (though far from great, and he was a bit old for a rookie) in 2005 with the A's, Johnson's career fizzled, and he played just 11 big league games in 2008 before heading to Japan in 2009. And he was awful in Japan, hitting just .215/.330/.462. But Johnson, now 30, came back and put up a 1.053 OPS for the Rays' AAA squad, and is now effectively the starting DH for maybe the best team in baseball. After playing the hero with two homers last night against the Yankees, Johnson's hitting .221/.386/.471 in 88 plate appearances.
Are there more guys like this? Does this happen all the time and I just haven't noticed?