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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reinsdorf: Michael Jordan’s baseball stint was no strikeout

By stretching the Jordan curve theorem to its most positive area…then, yes.

Don’t even try telling Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that Michael Jordan’s attempt at baseball was a flop.

‘‘There’s a common misconception among people that Michael Jordan failed as a baseball player,’’ Reinsdorf said. ‘‘And in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.’’

‘‘The last time he had played baseball was as a 17-year-old, as a pitcher, in Wilmington, N.C., where the competition was obviously not very big,’’ Reinsdorf continued. ‘‘The next time he played baseball, he was 31 years old, so he hadn’t played in 14 years. He was signed as a hitter, not a pitcher, and sent to AA ball. We don’t send anyone to AA ball when we draft him. You draft somebody after three years of college and he still goes to A ball. But we had to send him to AA because the facilities weren’t adequate to handle the media anyplace else. And he hit .202 in AA without having played for 14 years. I thought that was phenomenal. And then he went to the [Arizona] Fall League and he hit [.252] against the top prospects in Major League Baseball.’’

...If not for the strike that wiped out major-league ball from Aug.  12, 1994, to April 2, 1995, Reinsdorf believes Jordan would have played at the AAA level and gone on to reach the majors as a backup outfielder.

‘‘I don’t think he would have been a frontline player, but I wouldn’t put anything past him because he’s such a driven athlete,’’ Reinsdorf said.

Repoz Posted: February 16, 2013 at 07:33 AM | 88 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: white sox

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   1. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: February 16, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4370630)
Why doesn't BBRef have fall league numbers, and other stuff like that (winter league, spring training, etc.)?
   2. The District Attorney Posted: February 16, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4370633)
‘‘The last time he had played baseball was as a 17-year-old, as a pitcher, in Wilmington, N.C., where the competition was obviously not very big,’’ Reinsdorf continued. ‘‘The next time he played baseball, he was 31 years old, so he hadn’t played in 14 years. He was signed as a hitter, not a pitcher, and sent to AA ball. We don’t send anyone to AA ball when we draft him. You draft somebody after three years of college and he still goes to A ball. But we had to send him to AA because the facilities weren’t adequate to handle the media anyplace else. And he hit .202 in AA without having played for 14 years. I thought that was phenomenal.
Totally agree.

I mean, I don't know what was in it for Michael Jordan (my theory is that he was trying to work through the unexpected death of his father, who was a baseball fan), but it was amazing.
   3. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4370657)
I actually would not be shocked if Simmons' pet ha-ha-only-serious theory about Jordan being quietly kicked out of the NBA for a while because his gambling addiction was getting out of hand turned out to be true. As much as it smacks of loony conspiracy theory, it actually strikes me as the simplest explanation for it. I'm pretty sure the "he was working through his father's death" line is the generally accepted reasoning for it, though.

Why did the White Sox send Jordan to AA, anyway? It should have been obvious he would be overmatched there, having not played baseball at all for almost 15 years. I'm too young to remember the details of it. Did Jordan refuse to play any lower?

I always felt sort of cheated by the timing of Jordan's absence from the NBA. I think the 1994/1995 Rockets were better than anyone Jordan beat in the Finals except maybe the 1993 Suns, plus they would have presented a unique matchup problem for the Bulls (the Bulls would have been completely helpless to stop Olajuwon). If any team in the 1990s might have had a chance at taking down Jordan's Bulls in the playoffs, I think that Rockets team would have been it.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4370660)
I just sneaked a look at the 1994 Birmingham team. It's amazing--absolutely NO ONE on that team had a significant career in the bigs. (Hammaker, Pasqua, and Steve Sax were there, but that was during or after their major league careers)
   5. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4370668)
Uhm. No.

It would be phenomenal if *I* bat .202. (also 30 steals, 18 CS..ouch Michael). I don't think .202 in AA is outrageous for any world-class athlete who played high-school ball. IMHO.
   6. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM (#4370673)
Strongly disagree, Dale. *Lots* of dudes who had success, significant success, beyond HS fail to accomplish what Jordan did as a pro.
   7. McCoy Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4370674)
Why did the White Sox send Jordan to AA, anyway?

RTFE
   8. Steve Treder Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4370675)
Strongly disagree, Dale. *Lots* of dudes who had success, significant success, beyond HS fail to accomplish what Jordan did as a pro.

Yep. Hitting professional pitching is an exceptionally difficult athletic feat.
   9. Morty Causa Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4370681)
Michael Jordan was awful. This puts revisionism to shame. His skills were rudimentary and the physical attribute had atrophied. If you every saw him swing a bat during that time, it would be case closed.
   10. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4370682)
He was awful. At the same time, it was amazing that he was only that level of awful.
Not revisionism, common sense.
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: February 16, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4370684)

The Jordan piece to read is this one:

http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/page/Michael-Jordan/michael-jordan-not-left-building

"THE OPPOSITE OF this creeping nostalgia is the way Jordan has always collected slights, inventing them -- nurturing them. He can be a breathtaking #######: self-centered, bullying and cruel. That's the ugly side of greatness. He's a killer, in the Darwinian sense of the word, immediately sensing and attacking someone's weakest spot."

"Jordan is used to being the most important person in every room he enters and, going a step further, in the lives of everyone he meets."

"The people in the suite know about his ego, and his moods, and his anger. They know better than most.... But they also know Jordan, and if they're being honest, they love him.... So they think all the stories of Michael being Michael are funny, even endearing, while someone from the outside can hear the same story and be horrified."

Well said.




   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 16, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4370688)
It's also worth contextualizing Jordan's numbers - though it was 1994, the offensive explosion in MLB had not yet reached the Southern League. Average hitting lines were 324/376 for the league and 324/338 for Birmingham.

I agree with everyone above it's actually amazing that Jordan could jump into the high minors after a decade of not playing baseball and be merely very bad.
   13. Morty Causa Posted: February 16, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4370692)
11:

That's pretty much said about the great in any field. The exact same thing was said about, oh, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Marlon Brando....
   14. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 16, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4370698)
11 - that article has deservedly gotten a lot of praise
   15. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4370699)
He was awful. At the same time, it was amazing that he was only that level of awful.
Not revisionism, common sense.


But he's Michael Jordan. I'm sorry, I just don't think it's amazing that "Michael Jordan" could do that.

I do give him points for last playing in a baseball program that was probably just a level above sandlot. And he walked 51 times, which is about 30 more times than Pedro Ciriaco would do in a full season. Heh...he was also HBP 4 times. How'd you like to be able to tell people that you beaned Michael Jordan.

   16. caprules Posted: February 16, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4370708)
It's amazing--absolutely NO ONE on that team had a significant career in the bigs. (Hammaker, Pasqua, and Steve Sax were there, but that was during or after their major league careers)


Francona did okay. But is it actually amazing that a random AA team didn't have a future significant major leaguer on it?

And he walked 51 times


That is good to note. IIRC, his OBP actually went down late in the season, because crowds would boo when he got a walk. Jordan, as competitive as he was, still wanted to please the crowd and stopped walking as much.
   17. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 16, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4370709)
Some of you people are crazy. For a 31 year old to go to AA after not playing since he was 17 and in high school and play at that level is absolutely amazing. There are plenty of guys who were drafted in the first round and made their way up to AA through a normal progression and weren't any better than Jordan.
   18. DKDC Posted: February 16, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4370716)
Yeah, but he was MICHAEL JORDAN?

Aren't we supposed to hold him to a higher standard. I'd be impressed if some other early 30s professional athlete could switch to baseball and not completely embarrass themselves. But Michael Jordan? It's not impressive and it's not in the the top 100 on his list athletic accomplishments.
   19. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4370718)
Yeah, but he was MICHAEL JORDAN?


That's exactly my point. If I told you that Bo Jackson secretly played goalkeeper for the New York Cosmos one summer, and did acceptably well...I wouldn't expect anyone to be surprised. That the greatest basketball player in history OPSed .550 in AA just isn't outrageous to me.
   20. The District Attorney Posted: February 16, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4370721)
If I told you that Bo Jackson secretly played goalkeeper for the New York Cosmos one summer, and did acceptably well...I wouldn't expect anyone to be surprised.
If Bo was 31 and hadn't touched a soccer ball since he was a high schooler playing forward against low-level competition, then yes, I would be extraordinarily surprised and impressed.
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 16, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4370726)
Hitting a baseball is a far more specialized skill than goalkeeping.

Tons and tons of excellent athletes can't hit a baseball to save their life. The Red Sox drafted Shaq Green-Thompson, a top football recruit, precisely because of his athleticism.

In contrast, just about any excellent athlete can make a reaction save.
   22. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4370731)
In contrast, just about any excellent athlete can make a reaction save.


There's a hell of a lot more to GKing than that...but I do recognize everyone's point about hitting a ball.
   23. Bug Selig Posted: February 16, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4370746)
I'd be impressed if some other early 30s professional athlete could switch to baseball and not completely embarrass themselves.


It seems like you think baseball is really easy. I would guess that he is the only person who has lived in my lifetime who could take up the sport, after essentially never having played it (he was pitcher before) and not completely embarrass himself. Is your higher standard supposed to mean that he'd somehow be expected to be more than the best non-baseball-playing baseball player in the world over a 40-year span?

Is he supposed to win a Cy Young - while batting in AA?
   24. Bug Selig Posted: February 16, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4370747)
It would be phenomenal if *I* bat .202.


It is phenomenal for anyone to hit .202 when they are utterly unprepared. I was a 2nd-team all-state player in high school, and after 14 years away from the game, I'd not have been able to hit .050 in AA.

   25. Srul Itza Posted: February 16, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4370748)
It would be phenomenal if *I* bat .202.


It would be phenomenal if you hit the ball fair.
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 16, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4370752)
Aren't we supposed to hold him to a higher standard. I'd be impressed if some other early 30s professional athlete could switch to baseball and not completely embarrass themselves. But Michael Jordan? It's not impressive and it's not in the the top 100 on his list athletic accomplishments.

That's only true if you buy into the notion that general "athletic" skills which are vital in other sports are transferable to hitting a baseball. I've seen very little evidence of that over the years. Even in the days when seasons were shorter and two sport pro athletes were relatively common, there were virtually no star athletes in other sports, other than Bo Jackson, who showed hitting talent in the Majors that was even close to the skills they'd demonstrated in the NFL or NBA.

EDIT: cokes all around
   27. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4370755)
(he was pitcher before)


He was a pitcher in HS. Which is almost always utterly meaningless.
   28. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4370758)
I was a 2nd-team all-state player in high school, and after 14 years away from the game, I'd not have been able to hit .050 in AA.


You're not a world-class athlete. For a sabr-friendly crowd, you guys are going in some crazy directions to make your point.

Am I impressed that an NBA player, away from the game for 14 years...coming from a program not known for competitive ball could bat .202 in AA ball? Yes. Yes I am. Am I impressed that MICHAEL JORDAN did it? Less so. Am I sneering? No. Does Michael deserve credit? Of course. I shouldn't have made it sound like "anyone who went to last year's baseketball All-star game could hit .202 in Tulsa this summer".
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4370760)

"there were virtually no star athletes in other sports, other than Bo Jackson, who showed hitting talent in the Majors that was even close to the skills they'd demonstrated in the NFL or NBA."

Deion Sanders had a 130 OPS+ as a CF in 1992 for Atlanta, with a league-leading 14 triples in only 97 games while hitting .304. His other years, he hit like - well, like an ok CF, not great.

Brian Jordan, a pretty good NFL player, was 8th in NL MVP voting in 1996 and had a 134 OPS+ in 1998, plus 115 RBI in 1999.

do they count?
   30. DKDC Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4370767)
Also, although its not a perfect comparison, there's a long history of pitchers who switch to full time position players to varying degrees of success.

Sure, most of them were younger than Jordan when they made the switch and all of them have taking at least a few hacks since high school, but many of them were also far more successful than Jordan at hitting.
   31. greenback calls it soccer Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:27 PM (#4370773)
But we had to send him to AA because the facilities weren’t adequate to handle the media anyplace else.

I've always worked under the baseless assumptions that Jordan's ego wouldn't let him go to A-ball and/or that he wasn't planning on spending more than a year in the minors so there wasn't any point in putting him on anything vaguely resembling a standard development path. I have a hard time believing that Jerry Reinsdorf was so worried about the media re-enacting the Who concert tragedy in Peoria that he would retard Jordan's development as a baseball player.
   32. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4370777)
Francona did okay. But is it actually amazing that a random AA team didn't have a future significant major leaguer on it?

Others future MLBrs in other parts of the 1994 CWS system: Mike Cameron, Ray Durham, James Baldwin, Scott Eyre, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, Mike Sirotka, Orlando Saenz - but they were all above or below AA.
   33. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4370778)
Am I impressed that an NBA player, away from the game for 14 years...coming from a program not known for competitive ball could bat .202 in AA ball? Yes. Yes I am. Am I impressed that MICHAEL JORDAN did it? Less so.

Why? Why is it less impressive for Michael Jordan to hit .202 in AA than for any other NBA player (or even NBA All-Star) who hasn't played baseball above the high school level, and even that 14 years ago? Is there something about being an all-world shooting guard that should make you better at hitting a baseball? What would that something be?

I mean, I could see it if you said you were less impressed that Michael Jordan played a bad defensive center field. There I can see where his speed, athleticism, and ability to read where a basketball was going could be expected to translate directly. But as a hitter? You're talking about an all-world athletic guy coming into the sport cold with a GIANT strike zone and not COMPLETELY embarrassing himself.
   34.   Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4370780)
It is a little strange.

Should we also say that we shouldn't be impressed by Miguel Cabrera because he's Miguel Cabrera so he should be Miguel Cabrera.

It's another of those things - - what are we measuring here?
   35. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4370781)
I have a hard time believing that Jerry Reinsdorf was so worried about the media re-enacting the Who concert tragedy in Peoria that he would retard Jordan's development as a baseball player.


But Jordan was 31 years old. Put him on a "standard development path" and he's 5 years from the majors, which makes him a 36-year-old rookie outfielder whose primary athletic skill - speed - peaked a decade earlier. The only way Michael Jordan could have ever made the majors was if he could blow through the minors in two years and one way to see if he could blow through the minors in two years was to start him out in AA.
   36. Morty Causa Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4370784)
Look at this way. If you had a player with Jordan's stats in '94, and who looked like Jordan did on the field, and who demonstrated the peripheral talents he did, what would you be doing with that player? What would you think his future with your organization would be?

Did Jordan play any baseball at all during that 14-year gap. Did he do any practicing at all as a player during that time?

I pretty sure I read that Jordan bought a luxurious bus for his team to travel in? Didn't he also have the locker rooms re-tooled to his specs?
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 16, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4370789)
"there were virtually no star athletes in other sports, other than Bo Jackson, who showed hitting talent in the Majors that was even close to the skills they'd demonstrated in the NFL or NBA."

Deion Sanders had a 130 OPS+ as a CF in 1992 for Atlanta, with a league-leading 14 triples in only 97 games while hitting .304. His other years, he hit like - well, like an ok CF, not great.

Brian Jordan, a pretty good NFL player, was 8th in NL MVP voting in 1996 and had a 134 OPS+ in 1998, plus 115 RBI in 1999.

do they count?


Deion Sanders was an A-level Hall of Fame football player with a career 89 OPS+ in the Majors. That one 97 game season aside, I wouldn't call his demonstrated baseball skills remotely comparable to his NFL skills.

Brian Jordan's entire NFL career consisted of 20 punt returns and 8 kickoff returns. He was a good baseball player who dabbled in football, not the other way around.
   38. greenback calls it soccer Posted: February 16, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4370791)
But Jordan was 31 years old. Put him on a "standard development path" and he's 5 years from the majors, which makes him a 36-year-old rookie outfielder whose primary athletic skill - speed - peaked a decade earlier. The only way Michael Jordan could have ever made the majors was if he could blow through the minors in two years and one way to see if he could blow through the minors in two years was to start him out in AA.

You're making this binary, which it isn't. There's no reason he couldn't have started at A-ball, and then moved up mid-season. I also think you're under-selling Jordan's athleticism if you think his primary athletic skill on a baseball diamond would've been speed.

I got to see a few games of Rick Ankiel at A-ball after he converted to the OF when he was 25. His path was accelerated, but he was given more opportunity for rudimentary development. From his interactions with players and the coaching staff, even from the stands in Ft. Wayne it was clear he was on a crash course for learning how to hit (I've never seen a player jabber as much with coaches during a game as he did). He apparently was not happy with the Cardinals when they sent him all the way down to A-ball, but that's what you do when a guy is overmatched at AA.
   39. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: February 16, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4370794)
Brian Jordan's entire NFL career consisted of 20 punt returns and 8 kickoff returns. He was a good baseball player who dabbled in football, not the other way around.

Brian Jordan started at safety for the Falcons and I think he made the Pro Bowl (though he could have been named as an injury replacement if I'm even remembering correctly) the season before he abruptly quit to play baseball full time.
   40. Morty Causa Posted: February 16, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4370795)
I also think you're under-selling Jordan's athleticism if you think his primary athletic skill on a baseball diamond would've been speed.


What would it have been?
   41. Bug Selig Posted: February 16, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4370798)
You're not a world-class athlete.


Exactly. I, unlike Michael Jordan, was a baseball player. In what alternate universe is this not a point in favor of "Jesus Christ, that's impressive!"????
   42. Walt Davis Posted: February 16, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4370820)
Brian Jordan's entire NFL career consisted of 20 punt returns and 8 kickoff returns. He was a good baseball player who dabbled in football, not the other way around.

Brian Jordan's career consisted of 32 games, 30 starts, at strong safety for the Atlanta Falcons at the ages of 23-24 (plus 4 games at age 22). He made the NFC Pro Bowl team as a reserve in 1991.

He played minor-league ball from 21 through 24 but given he never played more than half a season during that time, I'm guessing he prioritized football. I don't know when he officially gave up football but he made the Cards opening day roster at age 25 (1992) and never played in the NFL again.
   43. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: February 16, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4370821)
Count me among those who think Jordan's performance was absolutely amazing. It gives me strong reason to believe that if he'd have chosen baseball as his primary sport, he'd probably have made it to the Majors.

I sometimes wonder how we'd look back on MJ if we'd had social media during his playing career. That really applies to the 90's as a whole. Between Michael Jordan: minor league baseball player, the OJ trial, and the Lewinsky Affair, I think it's fair to say we missed out on some absolutely fantastic memes.
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: February 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4370833)

If Brian Jordan was a Pro Bowl reserve - clearly an "above average player" - while only "dabbling" in football, then he is even more of a marvel than I thought!

   45. Guapo Posted: February 16, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4370836)
Brian Jordan was a full-time NFLer for three seasons. He finished third in the NFL in tackles in 1990 and was a Pro Bowl alternate after 1991. But he was playing minor league ball for the Cardinals during the summers. After 1991, the Falcons made Jordan an uncompetitive contract offer, so he signed a 3-year $2.3 million contract with the Cardinals that forbade him from playing football. He played under that contract through 1994, then signed a one-year deal with the Cards for 1995 and had his breakthrough season playing baseball. Near the season's end he dabbled with the idea of "pulling a Deion" and returning to the NFL but the Cards signed him to a 3 year $10 million contract to play baseball exclusively, which effectively ended any chance of him returning to the NFL.

   46. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 16, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4370838)
If I told you that Bo Jackson secretly played goalkeeper for the New York Cosmos one summer, and did acceptably well...I wouldn't expect anyone to be surprised.

If Bo was 31 and hadn't touched a soccer ball since he was a high schooler playing forward against low-level competition, then yes, I would be extraordinarily surprised and impressed.


Chad Ochocinco pretty much tried to do exactly that. He went back to football.
   47. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: February 16, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4370846)
Brian Jordan was actually a really good football player. He was a tough dude, big hitter.
   48. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: February 16, 2013 at 11:31 PM (#4370887)
Just sayin':

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/aingeda01.shtml
   49. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 16, 2013 at 11:32 PM (#4370888)
How many athletes from other sports have we seen throw out first pitches and make complete asses of themselves? John Wall is probably the big winner on that one but he's far from alone and anyone who has ever seen celebrity batting practice type things has seen the same sort of incompetence. Count me as pretty impressed.
   50. spike Posted: February 16, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4370890)
In four games of the 1992 World Series, Deion Sanders batted .533 with 4 runs, 8 hits, 2 doubles, and 1 RBI while playing with a broken bone in his foot. During the NLCS that year, he pinch hit in a playoff game, played a football game the next day, and dressed for another playoff game that night. For Bobby Cox. People thought he had demonstrated his baseball skill at the highest possible level just fine, thank you very much
   51. Dale Sams Posted: February 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4370895)
Ainge for some reason went straight to AAA out of high school apparently, and got a call up despite some wretched AAA numbers.

I don't know if that was to try and prevent Ainge from quitting baseball or what..
   52. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:39 AM (#4370910)
"there were virtually no star athletes in other sports, other than Bo Jackson, who showed hitting talent in the Majors that was even close to the skills they'd demonstrated in the NFL or NBA."

Deion Sanders had a 130 OPS+ as a CF in 1992 for Atlanta, with a league-leading 14 triples in only 97 games while hitting .304. His other years, he hit like - well, like an ok CF, not great.

In four games of the 1992 World Series, Deion Sanders batted .533 with 4 runs, 8 hits, 2 doubles, and 1 RBI while playing with a broken bone in his foot. During the NLCS that year, he pinch hit in a playoff game, played a football game the next day, and dressed for another playoff game that night. For Bobby Cox. People thought he had demonstrated his baseball skill at the highest possible level just fine, thank you very much


You know who else had great World Series? Mickey Hatcher (career OPS+ 89, just like Sanders). Billy Hatcher (career OPS+ of 86). Brian Doyle and Bucky Dent. And there are hundreds of players most people have never heard of who put up a 130 OPS+ for a single part time season. The fact remains that Sanders was a Hall of Fame football player and a thoroughly ordinary hitter, below average is putting it politely. Obviously Sanders was one of the top two sport athletes, but the gap between his football and baseball skills was much, much greater than Bo Jackson's. Jackson's demonstrated and repeated high level skills in two major professional sports, prior to his injury, remain in a class by themselves.

------------------------------------------------

Brian Jordan's career consisted of 32 games, 30 starts, at strong safety for the Atlanta Falcons at the ages of 23-24 (plus 4 games at age 22). He made the NFC Pro Bowl team as a reserve in 1991.

He played minor-league ball from 21 through 24 but given he never played more than half a season during that time, I'm guessing he prioritized football. I don't know when he officially gave up football but he made the Cards opening day roster at age 25 (1992) and never played in the NFL again.


Point taken about Brian Jordan, whose demonstrated multi-sport talent was clearly there (if not on Bo's level), but who simply chose one sport over the other.
   53. Howie Menckel Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:02 AM (#4370915)
But why act like Bo Jackson, as if he had Sanders' NFL career, also bestrode MLB like a colossus?
He basically had 4 years and almost 2000 PA, at 94-108-124-142 and out. And not CF.

Deion doesn't match Bo's numbers?
Really?

   54. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:25 AM (#4370916)
Bo was a better all-around athlete than Jordan.
   55. Morty Causa Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:40 AM (#4370917)
Bo was overcoming the holes in his game when he was hurt. He had been getting better. Sanders after one good season was stagnated at sub-mediocrity for years. Bo still had the chance to put his game together to give us a couple of great seasons. Sanders didn't do that, and there's no evidence that Jordan was likely to.
   56. CrosbyBird Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:52 AM (#4370920)
Exactly. I, unlike Michael Jordan, was a baseball player. In what alternate universe is this not a point in favor of "Jesus Christ, that's impressive!"????

Jordan played baseball in high school too. He wasn't all-state, but he probably was pretty good (especially for that level) simply by nature of being a great athlete.

When I first heard about Michael Jordan trying out baseball, I thought he'd be able to hold his own in A or AA because the pitching isn't as well-developed, but that he'd never be a great major-leaguer because dealing with speed changes and breaking pitches requires a different level of experience that you can't fake with athleticism. I also thought that having the more developed upper body that is a part of growing out of your twenties would give him a significant strength advantage. I'd have thought that there were enough bad pitches at that level that a really good athlete would have a shot at reasonable success.

This was Michael Jordan, arguably one the greatest athletes in the history of sport, and noted for him incredible work ethic and competitiveness. He wasn't going to embarrass himself and it wasn't a stunt. I think what Jordan did was incredibly impressive by normal person standards, but he isn't a normal person. I expected him to do something incredibly impressive and I think he lived up to that expectation, but I don't think he surpassed a reasonable expectation.
   57. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:14 AM (#4370922)
He basically had 4 years and almost 2000 PA, at 94-108-124-142 and out. And not CF.


Bo played 61 games in CF during the 142 year.
   58. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:00 AM (#4370930)
whose demonstrated multi-sport talent was clearly there (if not on Bo's level)

I'll take Jordan's MLB career over Bo's anytime. Bo had just 7.2 WAR in 4 full seasons of PA, slightly below average. Brian Jordan had 6.8 WAR in 1998. From 28-32 he had 21 WAR in about 4 seasons of playing time. A LOT of that was stellar defense but it was still 11 oWAR.

In football, Bo wins although it's not obvious how to compare running backs with strong safeties. If you average the two, Bo wins I'm sure. But Brian Jordan was a much better baseball player than Bo Jackson.
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 17, 2013 at 09:29 AM (#4370943)
But why act like Bo Jackson, as if he had Sanders' NFL career, also bestrode MLB like a colossus?
He basically had 4 years and almost 2000 PA, at 94-108-124-142 and out. And not CF.

Deion doesn't match Bo's numbers?
Really?


Howie, if this is about having to have two great careers, then nobody qualifies. But in terms of the relevant point---demonstrated ability to hit Major League pitching at a high level---Morty's reply is germane. Jackson's OPS+ for his five non-injured seasons progessed like this: 67, 94, 108, 124, 142. At that point he was 27 years old. Sanders peaked at the age of 24 with a part-time season of 130, then went down to 105, 89 and 94 before quitting. The athletic skills may have been there, but the ability to hit Major League pitching on a high level had only been demonstrated in brief spurts, sort of like Mickey Hatcher.

-----------------------------------------------

whose demonstrated multi-sport talent was clearly there (if not on Bo's level)

I'll take Jordan's MLB career over Bo's anytime.


Sure, and as long as I can have Kevin Walker on my payroll, so would I.
   60. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 17, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4370946)
Brian Jordan was a first round pick in mlb after playing in college, where he set his school's single season records for runs and steals (also hit for power).
Sanders was All-State as a Florida prep and played in college as well (ok bat, ton of steals) - was drafted multiple times.
Bo was a high draft pick (2nd rd) coming out of HS and his college baseball prowess is likely well known to you (had a +.400 season with loads of pop).
MJ did not play in college, or shortly after leaving college. He was not all-state as a prep or considering anything special outside of basketball, afaict. Apart from being a famous guy, there was no reason to think he'd do anything.

51/ainge - that's my understanding, yeah

Brian Jordan didn't get enough pub, IMO.
   61. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4370961)
Brian Jordan's entire NFL career consisted of 20 punt returns and 8 kickoff returns. He was a good baseball player who dabbled in football, not the other way around.


Wow. Nothing personal, Andy, but in a forum full of RayDPs & Kehoskies, I think you've posted the most blatantly dishonest, misleading thing I've ever read here.

Just ... wow.

Dick Butkus' entire career consisted of 22 interceptions, BTW. Big deal.
   62. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4370967)
Brian Jordan's entire NFL career consisted of 20 punt returns and 8 kickoff returns. He was a good baseball player who dabbled in football, not the other way around.

Wow. Nothing personal, Andy, but in a forum full of RayDPs & Kehoskies, I think you've posted the most blatantly dishonest, misleading thing I've ever read here.


Not dishonest, just based on a too-quick glance at PFB-Reference, whose statistics don't really do justice to defensive players. Look at what I wrote in #52 and you'll see I've already acknowledged the point you're implicitly making.

Dick Butkus' entire career consisted of 22 interceptions, BTW. Big deal.

Again, the problem is that PFB-Reference doesn't include statistics for tackles. I shouldn't have relied on it to make that initial comment I did about Jordan.
   63. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4370970)
Deion sanders was a better football player than Bo Jackson.
   64. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4370971)
Ah ... didn't catch #52. (Still waking up; only about halfway through my obligatory morning frappucino.) Good deal. Still, I'm somewhat surprised at the misstep, simply because I know that you (unlike me) do follow the NFL, if memory serves.

As far as the lack of decent stats for defensive players, I suppose that's yet another thing I find profoundly unlikable about football.
   65. Jay Z Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4370979)
This article and the comments are strange. Jordan had a terrible year in 1994. He was the worst position player on a below average AA team. An outfielder having the lowest OPS and making 11 errors? He had no real power. His teammates didn't have much power either, but since the pitching staff gave up more than twice as many HR as the batters hit, it's probably more an indication of the team talent level than the parks they played in.

The only thing Jordan did remotely well was draw walks, and given that he also struck out a lot it speaks to an overmatched player providing the only value he can. In MLB we expect this sort of player to fall off a cliff the next year. So Jordan probably would have gotten worse, not better, had he continued playing.

So he was bad, but he wasn't as bad as a player possibly could be? Oh boy.
   66. spike Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4370980)
The statement

"there were virtually no star athletes in other sports, other than Bo Jackson, who showed hitting talent in the Majors that was even close to the skills they'd demonstrated in the NFL or NBA."

does not equal

Jackson's demonstrated and repeated high level skills in two major professional sports, prior to his injury, remain in a class by themselves

Putting up a 130 OPS+ as a simultaneous two sport starter seems to easily clear the "hitting talent"..."even close" bar. It's not that big a deal so I'll stop, but shifting the argument to anything short of Jackson is no true Scotsman was not your initial premise.

   67. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4370985)
65 = nonsense.

Seriously, what's the expectation for a normal adult playing in AA? I would think it's something like an OPS of, I dunno, 200? I had similar numbers to Jordan on my JV team. I think I would be proud of myself if I hit a single line drive or got more than a couple proper hits during a whole season in AA.

Yes, Jordan was a world class athlete. I agree with Shock's comment #34, that doesn't change the quality of the feat in any way.
   68. Morty Causa Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4370986)
Michael Jordan was strong, but he wasn't baseball hitter strong. He simply didn't have the bat speed that one develops actually swinging at pitches over many times over many years. That can't be compensated for. Many who saw Jordan in action commented on Jordan's lack of bat speed. He was suddenly going to develop that post-31-years old.
   69. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:36 PM (#4370994)
Ah ... didn't catch #52. (Still waking up; only about halfway through my obligatory morning frappucino.) Good deal. Still, I'm somewhat surprised at the misstep, simply because I know that you (unlike me) do follow the NFL, if memory serves.

I follow the NFL come December, but not to the extent that I'm likely to remember much about a defensive player who played his entire three season career for a team I can't stand, a team that made the postseason once.

----------------------------------------

The statement

"there were virtually no star athletes in other sports, other than Bo Jackson, who showed hitting talent in the Majors that was even close to the skills they'd demonstrated in the NFL or NBA."

does not equal

Jackson's demonstrated and repeated high level skills in two major professional sports, prior to his injury, remain in a class by themselves

Putting up a 130 OPS+ as a simultaneous two sport starter seems to easily clear the "hitting talent"..."even close" bar. It's not that big a deal so I'll stop, but shifting the argument to anything short of Jackson is no true Scotsman was not your initial premise.


Read the first statement again. Do you seriously consider one brief (97 game) flurry of talent that Sanders displayed in baseball to be remotely close to his Hall of Fame football career? In that first statement I was comparing Sanders (MLB) to himself (NFL), and the gap was enormous.

Bo Jackson was on the NFL leaderboards in 2 or 3 different categories in 3 of the 4 years of his career. In 3 of those years, he had the longest run in the entire NFL. He was a second team All-Pro in 2 of those years. Jackson, unlike Sanders, was a genuine two sport star. Sanders was a one sport superstar who showed (very) brief promise in his second sport.




   70. Dale Sams Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4370999)
Seriously, what's the expectation for a normal adult playing in AA? I would think it's something like an OPS of, I dunno, 200? I had similar numbers to Jordan on my JV team. I think I would be proud of myself if I hit a single line drive or got more than a couple proper hits during a whole season in AA.


Let's not go too crazy when people like Brad Penny or Josh Beckett* (Whose numbers are also dragged down by the fact he apparently has decided to not even try anymore for fear of pulling a muscle I guess) have career OPS's of .350-.380 at an MLB level.

*On the flip side I readily admit 'just being an mlb pitcher' probably gives one an advantage similar to how GK's are better forwards than Alan Thropplemore in Section 22, if one is following the metaphor here.

edit: Also is there some kind of youth disconnect going on in this thread? Have I woken up in an alternate reality where Michael Jordan isn't a God? If you asked me to pick the one basketball player who had the best chance of walking away at age 31 and hitting .202 in AA...I'd say Michael Jordan every time.
   71. CrosbyBird Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4371000)
Seriously, what's the expectation for a normal adult playing in AA? I would think it's something like an OPS of, I dunno, 200? I had similar numbers to Jordan on my JV team. I think I would be proud of myself if I hit a single line drive or got more than a couple proper hits during a whole season in AA.

I think that's just a little too pessimistic. If you did nothing but wait for a straight pitch dead center, you'd probably see enough of them to get a few good line drives. Once in a while, a pitcher is going to be trying out a curve that doesn't curve. Remember that you're able to practice several hours each day with professional coaching.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4371003)
Seriously, what's the expectation for a normal adult playing in AA? I would think it's something like an OPS of, I dunno, 200? I had similar numbers to Jordan on my JV team. I think I would be proud of myself if I hit a single line drive or got more than a couple proper hits during a whole season in AA.

My sandlot team in DC had a future AAA pitcher in the rotation (Ray Miller, the future pitching coach for several ML teams), and I never had any problem hitting him in intrasquad games, since his repertory at the time consisted of nothing but a sinking fast ball. The problem is that there were thousands of 19 year olds who could have hit the 18 year old Ray Miller that year, and the chances are that only a tiny percentage of them would have been able to hit the 23 year old Ray Miller by the time they'd turned 24. I'd like to think I might have been one of those hitters whose skills would have evolved upward at the same rate that Miller's pitching skills did, but I'm under no illusions that I would have ever progressed any further than the Birmingham version of Michael Jordan.
   73. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:37 PM (#4371016)
Let's not go too crazy when people like Brad Penny or Josh Beckett* (Whose numbers are also dragged down by the fact he apparently has decided to not even try anymore for fear of pulling a muscle I guess) have career OPS's of .350-.380 at an MLB level.


In high school Josh Beckett hit ".506 and set school records with 11 home runs and 39 RBI." Couldn't find anything on Penny. These are not normal people you're talking about...

I think that's just a little too pessimistic. If you did nothing but wait for a straight pitch dead center, you'd probably see enough of them to get a few good line drives.


Once at Chelsea Piers I took two rounds at a batting cage that was set at 90 or 95 mph. Just for fun. Out of the 20-30 swings I had zero line drives, maybe hit 3 of them into what would be fair territory. I'm sure with practice I could have learned to put the meat of the bat on the ball consistently, but that would just be a timing trick, beginning my swing long before the ball was in the air.
   74. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4371018)
Garth Brooks went 2-42 in spring training. One of those hits was "ruled a single." And he attended a D1 school on a track scholarship. (OK, he was in his late 30s.)
   75. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4371023)
Trivia question, of the bar bet variety: what was Jackson's career high as a pro for rushing tds?
(Not intended as an assessment of value)

I think it's unfair to assume that bo had reached a new level of performance, pre-injury, as opposed to a fluke or career season. It may have been a permanent improvement - there may have been more to come - but I'm not convinced that that was likely.

Also, while I think Bo was a better baseball player than Deion, it's not open and shut. For example, through age 27 (Bo's healthy years), Deion had more WAA than Jackson and almost as many WAR. (And, if you use b-ref, were less valuable over that time than Brian Jordan was during his best season.)
   76. Morty Causa Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4371031)
Bo progressed each season over the preceding season. His last two season before the injury were very good offensively (and he had more playing time in those season than Deion had in his best seasons significantly more). Nothing's guaranteed, but you can not denied Bo's was progressing. That cannot be said for Sanders.

I'm not a football fan, so I'm just asking. How good a pro was Jackson? How good would he have been had he not played baseball and devoted himself full-time to that sport. People I know who are football fans said he could very well have been the best. ???

   77. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4371036)
if you go by techmo he was the best running back in the league
   78. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4371041)
Jackson was quite good. If you wanted to tout him, look at his yards per carry – he compares favorably with almost anyone in football history. That said, this figure is buoyed by his job share with Marcus Allen, though that depressed his touchdown total in turn.
(Jackson's Single season high for rushing scores was five. Also, he scored less touchdowns over his career then Sanders did – again, this is just trivia.)
   79. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4371042)
I find the idea that Jackson could've been the greatest running back of all time has he devoted himself to it full-time quite credible. In so many ways, he's a what could have been story and yet I don't view his career as representing unfulfilled promise, instead I'm amazed by what he did manage to do.
   80. McCoy Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4371043)
if you go by techmo he was the best running back in the league

There should be a law for this like there is for Hitler. Whenever someone mentions Bo Jackson on the internet invariably someone will bring up Techmo Bowl. Call it the Bo Knows Law.
   81. Jay Z Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4371053)
Seriously, what's the expectation for a normal adult playing in AA? I would think it's something like an OPS of, I dunno, 200? I had similar numbers to Jordan on my JV team. I think I would be proud of myself if I hit a single line drive or got more than a couple proper hits during a whole season in AA.

Yes, Jordan was a world class athlete. I agree with Shock's comment #34, that doesn't change the quality of the feat in any way.


Jordan deserves a grade of F for his performance in AA. He should have been sent down or released well before the season ended. The .202 sort of overstates his value because players have to add more things (hit for power, play shortstop) than Jordan added to carry a .202 average. Jordan wasn't good enough to get away with hitting .202 anyway.
   82. Jay Z Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4371055)
edit: Also is there some kind of youth disconnect going on in this thread? Have I woken up in an alternate reality where Michael Jordan isn't a God? If you asked me to pick the one basketball player who had the best chance of walking away at age 31 and hitting .202 in AA...I'd say Michael Jordan every time.


I'd have picked someone shorter. His height wasn't that much of an advantage for a position player, whereas in basketball it was essential. So a 6-1 Jordan might be constrained in the NBA, but be as good or better in baseball.

There have definitely been 6-6 players in baseball, but in watching Jordan play baseball, he did not look like he had a baseball player's body. Maybe he needed to be a less gangly 6-6, which probably would have limited him in basketball but helped in baseball.
   83. Zach Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4371057)
Go to youtube some time to see Bo Jackson highlights. Even as large as he was, he was legitimately the fastest player on the field. I have no doubt whatsoever that he had Hall of Fame talent.

"Greatest running back ever" is tricky, because he didn't have a full career. But if you could choose any running back, at the peak of their powers, to play a single game, he'd be an excellent pick.
   84. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4371062)
I'm not a football fan, so I'm just asking. How good a pro was Jackson? How good would he have been had he not played baseball and devoted himself full-time to that sport. People I know who are football fans said he could very well have been the best. ???

He was fantastic. His Monday Night Football game against Seattle was one of the great performances of the ages. I dunno if he would've been the best ever, but he was clearly among the best of his generation as he was.
   85. Dale Sams Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4371067)
Once at Chelsea Piers I took two rounds at a batting cage that was set at 90 or 95 mph. Just for fun. Out of the 20-30 swings I had zero line drives, maybe hit 3 of them into what would be fair territory. I'm sure with practice I could have learned to put the meat of the bat on the ball consistently, but that would just be a timing trick, beginning my swing long before the ball was in the air.


Serious question: has anyone done a study regarding whether pitching machines are harder to hit than real pitchers? Cause it just seems that whether the machine has a mechanical arm or is shooting the balls out...it hides the ball much better than a person does. Jus askin, I haven't been in a batting cage in forever.
   86. CrosbyBird Posted: February 17, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4371071)
There should be a law for this like there is for Hitler. Whenever someone mentions Bo Jackson on the internet invariably someone will bring up Techmo Bowl. Call it the Bo Knows Law.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PBvOxicz-0
   87. Mike A Posted: February 17, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4371078)
After a sorta rocky, rushed start in the bigs, Deion played pretty well. From 1992-1995, he put up a 103 OPS+ while playing a plus CF/LF. He would have probably been a 3+ WAR player over that time period had he had played full seasons. He then took the year off in 1996 to concentrate on football and kinda 'lost it' by the time he came back in 1997. I think he and Bo's baseball careers are fairly comparable, though obviously they brought very different pluses to the table.

There are a few things I remember from going to games over the years. One is I've never seen anyone hit the ball as hard as Vladimir Guerrero. Another is I've never seen anyone run from 1st to 3rd as fast as Deion Sanders.
   88. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 17, 2013 at 06:38 PM (#4371119)
Sir Ian Botham, one of the greatest cricket players in English history, was also good enough at soccer to play for Yeovil Town and Scunthorpe United in the Football League.

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