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Michael Jordan was better at baseball than you remember

Aug 25, 2010, 8:47 AM EDT

Jordan_baseball.jpgRemember what a disaster Michael Jordan was playing baseball?

The well done ESPN 30 for 30 movie “Jordan Rides the Bus” has come along to remind us that why we thought Jordan went to play baseball was wrong. Oh, and that he was pretty good at it, as Eric Freeman notes at Early Termination Option (his new blog which you should be reading).

It’s commonly said that Jordan’s time with the Barons was a failure — he had trouble hitting breaking pitches and generally looked exceedingly raw in all aspects of the game. The stats show that he was a marginal major league prospect at best: .202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI, 30 SB (in 48 attempts), 114 K, .289 OBP, .289 OBP, .266 SLG.

As usual, though, you need context for the full story. At the age of 31, Jordan hadn’t played regular baseball since his time at Laney High. On top of that, he was playing in AA, not A or rookie ball. AA typically doesn’t have as much developed talent as AAA, but it’s often said to have the better prospects (as many high-end players skip AAA entirely between seasons), so it’s not as if Jordan was playing against a bunch of no-talent scrubs. Plus, at 6-6 his size is considered a hindrance in baseball, where tall players have more area of strike zone to cover at the plate.

Jordan was not some stud Major League prospect, but considering everything he wasn’t that bad, either. His calling may have been elsewhere, but his dad would have been proud of him as a ball player.

  1. mrcasibueno - Aug 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Jordan was always the best basketball player but for baseball i have two words for you. Prime Time

  2. J Sanzo - Aug 25, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    Uhh nothing in those numbers or that explanation show that Jordan was anything but a bad baseball player. Think Juane Pierre without the ability to hit singles (the horror).
    Revisionist history is fine and all, but when someone has an .OPS of .555 there is no other word to describe that player other than horrible.

  3. johnmaine - Aug 25, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Great interview with Joe Crawford, who just signed with the Kings: http://bit.ly/9Vc2Pp

  4. dan - Aug 25, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    I’ll see your ‘Prime Time’ & raise you a Bo Jackson.

  5. Jim Crozier - Aug 25, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    *face palm*
    I have nothing else to say other than that. The Jordan revisionist history has hit epic proportions when someone can post those MINOR LEAGUE baseball numbers and then argue that he was a “better at baseball than I remember”.
    No, he was exactly as good at baseball as I remembered.

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