Athletes and Ballplayers - 4

Q.  Am not sure Taijuan Walker is that much of a basketball jones.  Where are his D-1 offers in hoops?

A.  Totally agree with Spec on this, as usual.

Walker's pregame hops are fine, but it's not like he's Vin Carter out there.  He's a real good state-level high school player.  I wouldn't oversell his basketball talent at all, at least not until hearing more.

I was a little stunned to turn over, see the pics of Walker dunking in a game, with his hand barely above the rim, as if they were poster-worthy.  I think you have to get that high TO dunk, don't you?  A guy 6'5" getting his wrist to the rim, wow.  (The tape of him dunking with teammates wasn't bad.)


But the question was, "Hey Doc.  Does his basketball speak well to his baseball future?"  So we gives you our 1.5 cents worth of shtick.  Probably hurts it, IF anything.  But probably not anything.


Q.  Carl Crawford could have been in the NFL, NBA, or MLB. 

A.  Well, first of all, we're talking tendencies.  Like we sez, for every Greg Maddux all-round SP athlete, there are quite a few Randy Johnsons... for every Carl Crawford, there are quite a few John Elways... but, sure, you'll find some Bo Jacksons in there.  Bo was an All-Star both in the AL and in the NFL.


Q.  Also note the Uptons.

A.  Ya, which kinda reinforces the original article.

Notice that Carl Crawford has a career OPS+ of 104 and an EYE of 266:702.  Strictly in the batter's box, his established level of performance (last 3+ years) is .295/.340/.440, with a lot of that coming off infield hits.  Thirty walks and 100 strikeouts a year.

If Crawford were a lumbering 1B, he wouldn't be in the majors, based on his skills in the batter's box.  But because he's a pretty decent hand/eye batter, with overwhelming basepath speed and OF speed, he's an impact player.

That's exactly the proviso we made to start with:  a super-athlete might become an okay hitter, and if so, he'll become an all-around impact player...


B.J. Upton had an OPS+ of 79 last year.  Granted, he's only 25.  But this is another textbook case of an all-around athlete, disappointing at the plate.  Remember, we're talking about the difference between a good AAA player and an ML All-Star in the batter's box.  My observation is that the great hitters are very, very specialized...  Babe Ruth and Ted Williams weren't going to score 25 points in NCAA basketball.

Justin Upton had an awesome year in 2009.  He may become a legit counterexample, a 3-sport pro who can dominate from the batter's box.  But, we notice that Upton's EYE is regressing this year, as B.J.'s did, so the jury isn't out yet...


Q.  How does it apply to pitchers?

A.  :- ) As we noticed, ballplayers aren't athletes, and pitchers aren't even ballplayers.... heh!

Spec's list didn't include the All-Star starting pitchers who had division-one offers to play football.  That would be even a rougher ride, I'm guessing.


But, as mentioned earlier:

1.  The study hasn't been done, and I doubt it could be done.

2.  Taijuan Walker isn't exactly an NBA lotto pick, so the point is kind of moot.

3.  The effect of hoops/football stardom on baseball pitching is probably "irrelevant" rather than "deleterious."

Walker will have a nice, light stride down the centerline and his CG will travel way out over his front foot for a stress-free deceleration.  That's all good.



Dr D



I think the issue arises from the traditional tools, as opposed to skills, based scouting, where the scout sees the athleticism and fantasizes about the possibilities once the player 'focuses' solely on baseball.  I agree that this is a flawed vantage point.  I just doubt this is the vantage point of the Mariners.  For this reason, I agree that, "The effect of hoops/football stardom on baseball pitching is probably 'irrelevant' rather than 'deleterious'."
While I agree that pitching is an unusual skill that doesn't have anything to do with a 40 time or a vertical leap, I just fail to see how being a quality athlete is anything other than a benefit.  Not that anecedotes make good arguments, but Mike Hampton certainly parlayed his athletic skill (high school football star with scholarship offer in football and baseball to Florida State) to pitching success.
...I also think it is funny that Randy is used as the example of a klutz and Taijuan the athlete, when Randy is the one with D-1 basketball on his resume.


Basketball is loaded with 7' klutzes.  I doubt that you'd take Shawn Bradley as an example of an anti-klutz. 
I'm not picturing the Big Unit with a real breathtaking crossover move, so am not impressed by the hoops argument w/r/t him.
James' observation was that the blow-em-away lefties tend to be terrible hitters.  The Unit had 19 walks against 296 strikeouts, lifetime.
For a guy near 7', Johnson moves pretty well, but that's compared to other guys 7'.  He's not exactly Jack Wilson out there.
The fact that he dominated high school basketball, and worked out with the USC hoops team a bit, does tell you that he could get through NCAA basketball practices, and that is worth mentioning, definitely.  I sure couldn't have.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.