It’s tax day and also Jackie Robinson day in baseball. April 15. I don’t think you could have given Jackie a worse day to commemorate him on, but that’s just me.
I obviously never got to see him–heck, he died well before I was born–but I remember hearing stories of him playing. My dad had that famous photograph of when he stole home in the World Series framed and hanging in his office and, later, in the living room.
But throughout my youth, I only knew Jack as the breaker of the color barrier. I had no idea how great he was.
And boy was he! He had a career line of .311/.409/.474. At second base. And with decent defense, if legend is correct. He had a career walk rate of 12.8% and a career K-rate of 6.0%. His career wOBA was .412–Alex Rodriguez, who has a shot at retiring as the all-time home run king, is at a solid .411 right now.
So not only did he break the color barrier, but he was one of the best players of his generation.
I wish that was told about Jackie, sometimes. I wish the legend of just how great he was was mixed properly with the reason why he was honored, like Roberto Clemente.
But at least he’s remembered. Here’s to a great baseball player and one of the greatest men of his generation.
Man. We’re so close to the season right now, it’s just so awesome.
As per usual, since I go to 30 games, I get about 5 or so in really good seats to watch the players I’ve wanted to see or like to see the most. Here’s who I’m looking forward to seeing this year:
- Tim Lincecum: The obvious choice. A two-time NL Cy Young winner, his delivery is a magnificent thing. Since he plays for San Francisco, I get to see him a lot at Dodger Stadium and he’s yet to disappoint.
- Albert Pujols: Another obvious choice. This man is, without a doubt, the best hitter of our time. I thought I read somewhere that he swung and missed at a pitch fewer times last season than some people struck out, but I can’t seem to find it now. The man is just amazing.
- Justin Upton: Yes, I follow Keith Law’s blog. Upton had a great year last year (.300/.366/.532 with 26 homers in 588 PAs) and he’s still only 22. I can’t wait to see what he does in 162 games.
- Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun: I’m not saying this just ’cause I drafted Braun in my fantasy draft this year. This pair is probably the best pair of hitters in a line-up today and I’m looking forward to the early-May match up.
- Miguel Cabrera: Maybe the most underrated player in the game today. Detroit plays the Dodgers for the first time in a few years and they’re coming to Los Angeles May 21-22. Cabrera had a phenomenal year last year (.324/.396/.547) and he’ll be 27 on April 18. Not bad for a guy with 200 career home runs already.
- Jason Heyward: You can probably tell I keep up with Baseball America and a lot of prospect rankings and Heyward was unanimously No. 1 or 2. Word came today he’s officially starting in right field on opening day, so great for him.
- Alex Rodriguez: Hey, if you haven’t heard, the Yankees are playing the Dodgers in LA May 25-27. The consummate professional, A-Rod basically does his thing every year. Problems these days are if he’s going to stay healthy through the end of his career–he’s missed 60 games the last two seasons. But he’s still the second-best hitter of our generation.
- Stephen Strasburg: Another case of following the hype. I’m always interested in seeing what scouts see in players, this being one of those times. Fortunately, the Dodgers host the Nationals late in the season (Aug. 6-8), so there’s a good chance I get to check him out.
- Ubaldo Jimenez: I’ve had a crush on this guy for years and it was great to see him finally put together such an amazing year last year after all he’s done. Can’t wait to see what he does this coming year.
- Chase Utley: Yet another consummate professional, he does every part of hitting well and he’s a fantastic defensive second baseman to boot.
- Tommy Hanson: No doubt a legit starter for the Braves, he pitched 127 innings last season and posted a damn-fine 2.89 ERA. He’ll be 23 at the start of the season.