Baseball historian Chris Jaffe points out that today is the 20th anniversary of Michael Jordan quitting baseball, noting that “he went back to his previous line of work.”
People always mock Jordan’s one-year baseball career and I suppose that’s to be expected when the best basketball player of all time leaves the sport he’s dominating to spend a year struggling at Double-A, but it always seemed to me that Jordan’s baseball performance was actually kind of impressive.
He played 127 games as a Double-A outfielder in the White Sox’s farm system–with Terry Francona as his manager–hitting .202 with three homers, 51 walks, 30 steals, and a .556 OPS. Make no mistake, that’s awful. FOR A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER. Jordan was a 31-year-old non-baseball player who hadn’t played the sport regularly in more than a decade and had never played the sport regularly above the high school level.
So yes, you could say “he quit basketball to hit .202 at Double-A?” or you could say “he took up professional baseball at age 31 without any experience above high school and somehow managed to hit above .200 with multiple home runs, an above-average walk rate, and lots of stolen bases!” Or you could just say “Jordan has a higher career on-base percentage at Double-A than Drew Butera!”
Baseball is super hard and what Michael Jordan did during his one year playing the sport professionally is more impressive than he gets credit for.
The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.
Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.
Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:
Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.
With just over a month to go before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, trade rumors are beginning to crop up. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the Red Sox and Yankees have each reached out to the Marlins about infielder Martin Prado.
The Marlins enter play Wednesday 35-40 and in third place in the NL East. They are expected to continue to sell after trading shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays. However, as the club itself is in the middle of rumors with a handful of prospective new owners, major pieces like Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich probably won’t be moved until that is settled.
Prado, 33, is hitting .277/.299/.398 with two home runs and nine RBI in 87 plate appearances. He has played in only 21 games due to calf and hamstring injuries. When he’s healthy, though, he is typically productive and he can play all four infield positions as well as the outfield corners. Prado is under contract for the next two seasons as well, at $13.5 million and $15 million.
With either the Red Sox or Yankees, Prado would likely assume third base. The Red Sox have gotten a major league-worst .562 out of its third basemen while the Yankees have gotten a .678 OPS, 24th out of 30 teams.