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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sickels: Prospect Retrospective: Gregg Jefferies

My twin boys used to have such a blast building that dog-eared house of Gregg Jefferies Rookie Cards…and then flattening it with a poop-encrusted plastic snow shovel.

25 years ago, in the summer of 1987, Gregg Jefferies was the hottest prospect in baseball. He was considered a sure-fire future All Star and an expected mainstay for the New York Mets. Take Manny Machado and Jurickson Profar, combine them, and you have an idea about how much hype Jefferies was receiving. And he deserved it, too; he was a remarkable prospect.

...Handed the second base job in 1989, Jefferies didn’t live up to his press clippings, hitting .258/.314/.392 with 12 homers and 21 steals, with a 39/46 BB/K ratio in 508 at-bats. He took some flak for not being an immediate star and his defense wasn’t impressive, but he did post a positive OPS+ at 106 and WAR at 1.3. His production as a sophomore (.283/.337/.434, WAR 3.0) was better, but after a mediocre junior season (.272/.336/.374, 1.8 WAR) he was shipped off to the Kansas City Royals, where he played one season (.285/.329/.404, WAR 2.5).

In the spring of 1993, the Royals traded him east across I-70 to St. Louis, where he finally had the star-caliber season people were looking for: .342/.408/.485, 5.5 WAR. He remained an effective hitter for the Cardinals and Phillies (signing as a free agent for 1995), but his value sagged as he moved the wrong way on the defensive spectrum, eventually winding up as a first baseman with insufficient power for the position. Worn down by injuries, he ended up retiring in 2000 at the age of 32.

Although Jefferies was a disappointment compared to the hype he received in the minors, he did have a 14-year career in the majors, hitting .289/.344/.421 with a 107 OPS+. His OPS+ was better than league average every year until age 28 when injuries struck, and he had particularly good years in 1993 (.342/.408/.485, 142 OPS+, 5.5 WAR) and 1994 (.325/.391/.489, 130 OPS+, 1.9 WAR in the strike year). He stole 193 bases, was a two-time All Star, and posted a career 21.9 WAR.

He wasn’t a great player, but he had value.

Repoz Posted: August 15, 2012 at 09:07 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, mets

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 09:59 AM (#4208627)
I remember being a kid and wondering what the hype was all about. Jefferies was a short, trollish looking dude that didn't seem to have tremendous power and apparently couldn't field well at all.

But I agree with John, had you not had all the hype surrounding his prospect status, he would have been considered a pretty valuable player. Jefferies was one of the first prospects people got excited about it seems in the era where any fan could follow minor league stats pretty regularly in Baseball America or the Sporting News.

EDIT: I forgot how good he was with the Cards. That was a pretty awful trade for the Royals. With Felix Jose and Kevin McReynolds, the Royals had to have had the most apathetic outfield in the history of baseball.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4208629)
When I was a kid, I had a Gregg Jeffries rookie card that I probably paid $25 dollars or so for. I looked it up a few years ago and its value was 5 cents.
   3. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4208634)
Also a kid at the time, I was convinced he'd be a monster, given his MLEs (Jackson and Norfolk were both pitcher's parks) - a guy who'd hit .320 every year who could credibly play up the middle. Even bought a (hideous) Jeffries caricature shirt (a lot like this, but a teeny bit gaudier).
   4. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4208644)
And after the Gregg Jefferies experience Mets fans never again over-valued a prospect and everyone lived happily ever after. The End...

OR IS IT?
   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4208646)
among many things about jefferies that i recall the one that really sticks is his practicing his batting stroke in water as a form of resistance exercise
   6. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4208647)
among many things about jefferies that i recall the one that really sticks is his practicing his batting stroke in water as a form of resistance exercise

I remember that, too. Didn't his dad have him on some kind of Marinovich-like training regimen from a very young age?
   7. flournoy Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4208648)
Is Jefferies the only guy to get Rookie of the Year votes in two seasons?
   8. zonk Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4208655)
among many things about jefferies that i recall the one that really sticks is his practicing his batting stroke in water as a form of resistance exercise


Yup - ditto. In fact, I took up the very same training regimen after I read about it.

FWIW, my HS coach -- who was a maven for unusual training exercises (we actually had a series of 'eye exercises' that we spent 20 minutes every practice on, some of which I think we're quite good) -- didn't like it. He thought it built bad habits because it would force you to use your upper arms and shoulders too much at the expense of your wrists and forearms. We did resistance training around our swings with a partner holding the bat, but he'd walk around to be sure wrists were snapping, hips were opening up, etc and insist that players were conducting a 'thorough' swing rather than just playing tug of war with the bat.
   9. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4208657)
My dad bouht me an entire wax box of 1989 Topps. I remember being so excited when I pulled 3 Jefferies #1 Draft Pick cards out of that box. Knowing I could sell them for enough to buy another whole box. I was knowledgeable enough even at 13 to know that every time a high priced rookie card came out that hot, I would get rid of it immediately. It would never hold that value for long. Did the same thing with Brien Taylor cards. My best flip was trading a few Jefferies for a couple Fred McGriff 1986 Donruss Rated Rookies then flipping those into a 1989 Topps Traded Griffey rookie. The Jefferies I got for nothing and sold the Griffey for $30. At 13, that was bankrollin. :)
   10. JE (Jason) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4208663)
From the Daily News, 2008:

"I broke in early; I had some immaturities. I had a temper and I wish I had learned to tone that down. I did later. But I had a great time in New York. It gave me my name."

Asked if his career might have been different had Met teammates treated him differently, Jefferies says, "Yeah, it could've. It was a veteran team. I blame nobody. I was a young kid replacing Wally Backman not long after a World Series. I could understand the resentment. When I got a little older and learned the game and put up some years, when I played against those guys, they were very friendly."
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4208674)
Handed the second base job in 1989, Jefferies didn’t live up to his press clippings, hitting .258/.314/.392 with 12 homers and 21 steals, with a 39/46 BB/K ratio in 508 at-bats.


He was 21 at the time. You'd think people would be happy with a 21-year-old second baseman with a 106 OPS+.

I always felt that Jefferies' main problem was that he wasn't good enough defensively to handle second base, but the Mets just refused to admit that. The Mets kept shuttling him back and forth between second and third, never giving him a full shot at either position, which had to be enormously frustrating for a guy who wasn't a good fielder to begin with.

I think if they had just stuck him at third, or in left field, and said, "This is where you're playing," his bat would have developed rather than stagnating over the first five years of his career. Note that he exploded on the league at the exact moment he became a full-time first baseman.

The other thing is that the Mets were just horribly dysfunctional in a lot of ways. There was a story that as soon as Jefferies made the big leagues, Kevin Elster took it upon himself to saw all of Jefferies' bats in half. That's hardly conducive to developing talent, if you ask me.
   12. Flynn Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4208676)
I remember that, too. Didn't his dad have him on some kind of Marinovich-like training regimen from a very young age?


Flicking through the SI piece about him, it sounds like hard work, but without being as pathological as Marinovich's dad was. Jeffries's dad was a baseball coach and PE teacher for a living as well, so obviously he was going to take an interest in a son who was good enough to win a batting title. Jeffries sure seems to have found his place and handled his career better than Marinovich did. His dad sounds more like a Chris Lincecum than whatever Marinovich's psycho father was named (Marv?).
   13. Clemenza Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4208680)
among many things about jefferies that i recall the one that really sticks is his practicing his batting stroke in water as a form of resistance exercise

There was a picture in SI showing him standing in a pool holding a bat. Here is the article describing his workout routine:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1067126/1/index.htm

Yeah, you could say he was hyped:

Some experts are already comparing Jefferies's skills to those of Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Wade Boggs. Like Mantle, Gregg, who's 5'10" and 175 pounds, is a switch-hitter with mirror-image swings from both sides of the plate. Like Rose, he's highly aggressive; like Morgan, a smart, challenging base runner; and like Boggs, an immensely talented all-fields hitter. He's so effective at the plate, in fact, that three times umpires have confiscated his custom-made black SSK bats at the behest of rival managers who thought, erroneously, that the bats were doctored.
   14. Squash Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4208692)
I remember being so excited when I pulled 3 Jefferies #1 Draft Pick cards out of that box. Knowing I could sell them for enough to buy another whole box. I was knowledgeable enough even at 13 to know that every time a high priced rookie card came out that hot, I would get rid of it immediately. It would never hold that value for long. Did the same thing with Brien Taylor cards. My best flip was trading a few Jefferies for a couple Fred McGriff 1986 Donruss Rated Rookies then flipping those into a 1989 Topps Traded Griffey rookie. The Jefferies I got for nothing and sold the Griffey for $30. At 13, that was bankrollin. :)

In pulling three, you also underlined the fatal error of collectibles (and late 80s Topps sets in particular): oversupply. As a kid I wondered why the 87-88-89 Topps sets were worth nothing while Fleer and Donruss of the same year had value - eventually I realized there were enough Topps cards out there to wallpaper your house with.

In terms of pulling and selling I used to do the same, especially with error cards and gimmick cards and the like. They never held their value beyond the first few months of the current season. The 89 Upper Deck set was like a treasure trove. My crowning moment (and I still think the greatest card collecting arbitrage moment of the early 90s) was when Topps came out with that gimmicky reprint of the 1953 set including the revisionist history Mantle, which dealers were selling during the initial frenzy at $25 a pop with the Mays at something like $15. The idea that you could pull a $25 card out of the pack was at that time so mind-bogglingly insane that it almost broke my mind - the card companies were flush in the middle of the overprinting era and pulling a stud rookie at that time meant you could sell it for maybe a buck if anyone would even bother to buy it at all. There was no such thing as value out of the pack. I pooled my meager funds and bought boxes (around $45) and sold every Mantle card I could get to dealers for $15 and every Mays for $8 or $9, then bought the stuff I actually wanted with what was left over. It was awesome.
   15. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4208693)
Flicking through the SI piece about him, it sounds like hard work, but without being as pathological as Marinovich's dad was. Jeffries's dad was a baseball coach and PE teacher for a living as well, so obviously he was going to take an interest in a son who was good enough to win a batting title. Jeffries sure seems to have found his place and handled his career better than Marinovich did. His dad sounds more like a Chris Lincecum than whatever Marinovich's psycho father was named (Marv?).

Hi step dad at that! He took the phrase "red-headed step child" to places lesser men never imagined...

My college roommate actually grew up with Marinovich and always said he felt sorry for him.
   16. Ron J2 Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4208704)
#3 Thing is he didn't play all that well in Tidewater.

.282/.322/.395 is OK I suppose (and his play with the Mets is perfectly in line with this) but nothing that screams future superstar (age notwithstanding)

As a side bonus, he spent most of the year at third (which makes sense given that the Mets were negotiating a Hojo + for Dale Murphy deal) which led him to being thrown cold into second base (24 minor league games at 2b) in the majors.

Now there's nothing unusual about converting a minor league SS to second in the majors, but Jefferies was a bad shortstop who was playing there because ... well they hoped he'd improve a lot. A year in the minors at second would probably have helped a great deal. There were plenty of comments about how raw Jefferies looked at second

One other warning sign that almost everybody missed. His walk rate at jackson doesn't look terrible, but it's only 31 unintentional walks in 525 PAs (excluding IBB). Not terrible but a potential issue as he starts to encounter better pitching.
   17. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4208706)
Take Manny Machado and Jurickson Profar (and) combine them

Majurick Machfar? Awesome.
   18. Harlond Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4208707)
Jefferies was one of the first prospects people got excited about it seems in the era where any fan could follow minor league stats pretty regularly in Baseball America or the Sporting News.

I remember that hype, which led to Jeffries going for $10.50 (out of a total $100) in my rotisserie league. Contrast McGwire going for 50 cents his rookie season a few years before. (My brother still brags about that.) It was a big change in how the rotisserie league worked.
   19. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4208715)
Squash, I lived not that far from the Topps factory. I have friends that worked there that own so many rare items right from the factory they can retire off them. Single color printing plates, uncut sheets from the 70's, even some items that never made it to the public. I had an awesome day looking through one friends collection. Even today, the whole collection has to be worth 6 figures. And he didn't pay a dime for any of it.
   20. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: August 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4208721)
16 - Yeah, but he did it as a kid (20). I wasn't hung up on batting average, but he hit .326 as a 17 year old, .353 at 18 (with 59 XBH), and .367 at 19 (in AA, with 73 XBH). Then, when he only hit .282 in AAA* (at age 20) - I focused on the 178 OPS+ he put up in 118 PA with the Mets. Plus, he could steal bases and I didn't know how bad his defense was.

* Also, this was '88 and the IL got hit by some of the drop in offense that the bigs experienced: the IL hit .244/.310/.352. Batting title won by Steve Finley, .314.
   21. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4208747)
I focused on the 178 OPS+ he put up in 118 PA with the Mets.


I think that was the thing that got people fired up about Jeffries: those 29 games with a .321/.364/.596. I just remember him going buck wild on the bases in his first year with the Cards: 46 steals!
   22. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4208778)
Jefferies was my favorite player as a kid. He became my favorite player because my father took me to his first game at Shea, or one of his first games, and told me: "They say that Gregg Jefferies is the next Babe Ruth!" Plus we both played second base.

I remember having a set of baseball cards that were basically just childhood photos of both Gregg Jefferies and Ken Griffey Jr. A quick Googling couldn't come up with them. What were they?
   23. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4208791)
Some experts are already comparing Jefferies's skills to those of Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Wade Boggs.

I want to meet the guy who looked at Jefferies and saw Mickey Mantle type skills. That's got to be one optimistic guy.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4208798)
I think the Mantle comparison was just because he was a switch-hitter. But Jefferies was incredible in the minors (prior to his disappointing final year in AAA) and the other names were not ridiculous. In AA he hit .367 with a 1.021 OPS and more walks than strikeouts. The previous year (with similar hitting numbers) he stole 57 bases against 9 CS. He was deservedly a monster prospect.

Edit > I wonder how often Chipper Jones was compared to Jefferies? They were both switch hitters, both shortstops unable to actually play shortstop, both high average, good speed, and both joining one of the best teams in the majors. Really similar prospects. Almost identical rookie year OPS+es.
   25. billyshears Posted: August 15, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4208802)
One other warning sign that almost everybody missed. His walk rate at jackson doesn't look terrible, but it's only 31 unintentional walks in 525 PAs (excluding IBB). Not terrible but a potential issue as he starts to encounter better pitching.


It's hard to walk much when you're hitting .367.
   26. flournoy Posted: August 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4208826)
Edit > I wonder how often Chipper Jones was compared to Jefferies? They were both switch hitters, both shortstops unable to actually play shortstop, both high average, good speed, and both joining one of the best teams in the majors. Really similar prospects. Almost identical rookie year OPS+es.


This is the first Chipper Jones - Gregg Jefferies comparison I've ever seen in my life. So while that's just my personal anecdote, I'm willing to wager the answer is, "Not often."
   27. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4208878)
Yeah, probably not often. I guess nobody ever makes comparisons to failed prospects unless they also expect the second guy to fail. Just struck me how similar they were at, say, age 19.
   28. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: August 15, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4208929)

I think if they had just stuck him at third, or in left field, and said, "This is where you're playing," his bat would have developed rather than stagnating over the first five years of his career. Note that he exploded on the league at the exact moment he became a full-time first baseman.


I love Bill James's quip about this - "The Mets would bring in a new second baseman every year, put Jefferies at third, then drop the second baseman halfway through the year. Then they'd put Jefferies back at second, to see if he had learned to play the position while watching from third."
   29. smileyy Posted: August 15, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4208981)
among many things about jefferies that i recall the one that really sticks is his practicing his batting stroke in water as a form of resistance exercise


I wonder if that helped or hurt. I remember reading that sprinting in sand (as a similar form of resistance training) hurt sprinters because the slowness of the sand screwed up all their muscular timing for sprinting on real stuff.
   30. JJ1986 Posted: August 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4208986)
I love Bill James's quip about this - "The Mets would bring in a new second baseman every year, put Jefferies at third, then drop the second baseman halfway through the year. Then they'd put Jefferies back at second, to see if he had learned to play the position while watching from third."


Just looking at game logs, Jefferies was moved off 2nd at the end of 1990 (for Herr) and 1991 (for Miller), but not at the beginning of any year.
   31. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4209024)
Geez ... what other stuff did James make up out of thin air?
   32. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4209376)
Geez ... what other stuff did James make up out of thin air?


All of it. All of it, gef....
   33. McCoy Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM (#4209383)
Where I lived the dealers would give you virtually nothing for your present day cards, peanuts for your old cards, and almost always it would be store credit for their overpriced stuff. I never sold anything because in the end selling some card I only have one or two of for a $1.25 just didn't seem to be worth it.
   34. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4209388)
Majurick Machfar? Awesome.


It's a name that would immediately land on the no-fly list, at least.
   35. jobu Posted: August 16, 2012 at 12:02 AM (#4209414)
The other thing is that the Mets were just horribly dysfunctional in a lot of ways. There was a story that as soon as Jefferies made the big leagues, Kevin Elster took it upon himself to saw all of Jefferies' bats in half. That's hardly conducive to developing talent, if you ask me.

Interesting, but it seems unlikely it was Elster. He was closer to a peer of Jefferies than an established vet. Jefferies first full MLB year was 1989 (after he tore it up in 29 games in 1988). 1988 was Elster's rookie season, and he put up a .594 OPS in 149 games. That would hardly suggest the sort of job security that might lead one to saw the prize propect's bats in half.
   36. Good cripple hitter Posted: August 16, 2012 at 01:12 AM (#4209435)
The Elster / Jefferies bat story was referenced here before:

23. Boots Day Posted: January 05, 2006 at 06:43 PM (#1807792)
Unlike Jefferies, his teammates don't hate him.

That was the teammates' fault, not Jefferies. Jefferies was hated before he got to the majors.

As soon as Jefferies got to New York, Mets players started whining that this unproven kid was taking away ABs from veterans. Kevin Elster resorted to the extremely mature "practical joke" of sawing all of Jefferies' bats in half.

The Gregg Jefferies situation was one of the ugliest things I've ever seen.


There's various web pages that blame Darryl Strawberry, Randy Myers, Roger McDowell, and anonymous veteran teammates for the bat sawing.
   37. McCoy Posted: August 16, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4209437)
Interesting, but it seems unlikely it was Elster. He was closer to a peer of Jefferies than an established vet. Jefferies first full MLB year was 1989 (after he tore it up in 29 games in 1988). 1988 was Elster's rookie season, and he put up a .594 OPS in 149 games. That would hardly suggest the sort of job security that might lead one to saw the prize propect's bats in half.

It wasn't Elster. The first person to mess with Gregg's precious bats was Strawberry in 1989. Gregg gave his bats special treatment and he wanted the equipment manager to give them special treatment as well. Gregg wanted them packed separately from the other bats so they wouldn't get dinged and chipped in transit. Well, one day after a game Strawberry had enough and after Gregg gave his bat to the EM and got on the bus Strawberry grabbed the bat and threw it away. Later in the season it was Roger McDowell who took Gregg's bat and saw it in half and then taped it back together again. Gregg broke his first bat in an at bat and then when he went back to the dugout to get a new bat he grabbed the sawed in half one and it collapsed on him in his hands much to the amusement of the Mets' players watching.

   38. McCoy Posted: August 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM (#4209439)
That's the story as told by Bob Klapisch and John Harper but if you look at the schedule it can't really be true. The story as told by them is that Strawberry threw Gregg's bat away in ATL and then later in the season Roger sawed Gregg's bat in half in STL. But Roger got traded on June 18th and the Mets wouldn't play in STL until the end of July/first part of August.
   39. shoewizard Posted: August 16, 2012 at 02:34 AM (#4209449)
The two things I remember most about Jeffries are his 1988 Strat Card, (I Played him every day) and the 8th inning of game 5 of the 88 NLCS vs. LA: Single/runner struck by batted ball and is out; Jefferies out at 3B/SS; Strawberry to 2B

   40. 33Boots Posted: August 16, 2012 at 03:15 AM (#4209454)
When I was in high school, Gregg Jeffries lived across the street from me, in the Bay Area. One day he was in Oakland and a couple of guys followed him home and robbed him at gunpoint at his house, stole his rings. I was at home at the time and, in my youthful indiscretion, had just smoked a huge joint and was going out to meet friends. I opened my front door and there was literally a cop on my doorstep, about to knock on the door. Spent the next ten minutes asking me questions about all the people I had seen on the block recently. One of the worst ten minutes of my life, complete panic, stoned out of my mind. Ruined marijuana for me going forward. I smoked a couple more times, but got so paranoid I just couldn't hang. Gregg Jeffries put me off drugs.

   41. shoewizard Posted: August 16, 2012 at 03:34 AM (#4209456)
Just because you're paranoid........
   42. rfloh Posted: August 16, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4209602)
"I wonder if that helped or hurt. I remember reading that sprinting in sand (as a similar form of resistance training) hurt sprinters because the slowness of the sand screwed up all their muscular timing for sprinting on real stuff."

The bat in water thing, or training in water for additional resistance is problematic because in water (hydrodynamic resistance), Force = k * Velocity(squared), k is coeff of hydrodynamic resistance. It is also why trying to transfer dryland training into water sports such as swimming, rowing, is difficult. The type of resistance is different.

Because of this, there is also the mechanical feedback issue. Greater force leads to higher velocity which leads to greater resistance. Then to overcome the greater resistance, you need to elevate force more. The mechanical feedback is different.

Trying to work on sports specific technical movements using some extra resistance, extra resistance that is different, is generally not a good idea, you're taking the chance of messing up your mechanics, especially on something like a baseball swing.
   43. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4209610)
My baseball card coup was from a friend of mine who liked football more than baseball and this was when football cards were becoming more popular. I had gotten a huge box of football cards as a Christmas present with some decent cards - Reggie White, Jim Kelly IIRC. I exchanged that in return for as many cards as I wanted out of his dad's baseball card collection which had Yaz, early Nolan Ryan, early Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer. I was like a kid in a candy store.
   44. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4209626)
Interesting, but it seems unlikely it was Elster. He was closer to a peer of Jefferies than an established vet. Jefferies first full MLB year was 1989 (after he tore it up in 29 games in 1988). 1988 was Elster's rookie season, and he put up a .594 OPS in 149 games. That would hardly suggest the sort of job security that might lead one to saw the prize propect's bats in half.


I could be wrong, but I recall reading about the incident more or less contemporaneously in the Village Voice, back when it had an excellent sports section. Yes, Elster wasn't much older than Jefferies, but he was also one of the players most in danger of losing playing time to him. Elster was also a hot prospect himself a year or two before, and may have learned that that's how the Mets clubhouse was supposed to operate.
   45. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 16, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4209638)
Former heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano, whose conditioning in the ring and ability to throw haymakers for 15 rounds was nothing short of historic, was well-known for all sorts of unusual training practices, and among the best-known of those was practicing punching in shoulder-deep water for up to an hour at a time. Muhammad Ali famously recreated the routine at the request of a Sports Illustrated photographer in 1961, and it has since become yet another iconic and oft-recreated image of his career.
   46. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: August 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4209669)
Jefferies also didn't help matters much by writing a letter to fans via WFAN explaining that everyone was being mean to him and he couldn't take it anymore.

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