The next stage of The Tim Tebow Baseball Experience begins Tuesday, as he suits up for the St. Lucie Mets, the Single-A Advanced affiliate of the New York Mets. The way things are going for Tebow and the Mets, this seems like only another step on his journey, not his final destination.
Heck, there are even odds out there about whether the Mets will go full-marketing gimmick and call Tebow up to the big-league club in September.
The ascension of Tebow got us thinking: How does his foray into baseball compare with the most famous minor leaguer ever, Michael Jordan? Their stories are pretty similar in that they both jumped into pro baseball after careers in a different pro sport. Both were much older than their peers and it had been a while since either of them played baseball.
Jordan started in Double-A in the Chicago White Sox organization while the Mets started Tebow all the way at the bottom — in the instructional league. He’s since worked his way through the Arizona Fall League, spring training and half of a season in the minors.
For this comparison, we looked at Jordan’s 127 games and the 64 games Tebow played entering Tuesday. They played at different levels, so that should be considered. Here’s how they stack up:
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
• Tebow and Jordan certainly have different strengths in their game: Tebow’s power potential can be seen in his slugging percentage and an at-bats-per-home-run ratio that’s much better than Jordan. Jordan was stronger on defense and, even though it’s not included on the chart above, on the base paths. He stole 30 bases in 1994.
• If Michael Jordan is the barometer, Tebow’s offensive stats aren’t too bad. The .220/.311/.336 slash line isn’t much to brag about it, but compared to MJ, it looks a lot better.
• You might have expected Jordan’s strikeout percentage to be worse than Tebow’s — or maybe it’s just us; maybe that Sports Illustrated cover is engrained in our mind — but Tebow’s K percentage is actually worse than Jordan’s. Imagine if SI put a whiffing Tebow on its cover these days. His followers would be outraged.
• Baseball is hard. Especially if you’re starting a minor-league career 10 years later than most players.
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