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.
Posted: August 15, 2012 at 09:07 AM | 46 comment(s)
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