Michael Jordan was better at baseball than you remember

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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.