Keep On Dreaming Russell Wilson, But Not About Baseball
Friday, April 17, 2015
As an inspiring and nostalgic narrative, the prospect of an athlete like Wilson playing two sports takes the casual fan back to images of Bo Jackson crushing home runs and running over linebackers or Deion Sanders using his tremendous speed to swipe a base or elude special team’s coverage to run back a punt for a touchdown. But, what many seem to forget is that Jackson and Sanders had tremendous baseball talent and also never interrupted their baseball careers.
Jackson was drafted first overall in the 1986 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but opted to play baseball with the Kansas City Royals. Sanders began his part-time baseball career with the New York Yankees in 1989, the same year he began playing for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.
In Russell Wilson’s case, after playing two seasons in A ball for the Colorado Rockies, he was drafted in 2012 in the third round by the Seahawks and hasn’t seen live pitching since. So, at this point, Wilson is 26 (will be 27 by the end of this NFL season), an age when most baseball players are coming into their prime, and he hasn’t played baseball in almost four years.
Baseball isn’t a game that you get better at by not playing it. There’s a reason even the best players usually spend a few years in the minors. Hitting a baseball is THE most difficult thing to do in all of sports. And, Wilson wasn’t very good at doing that when he turned his attention solely to football.
Many pro scouts and talent evaluators, including Keith Law of ESPN, have graded Wilson, who played 2B in college and with the Rockies, as very athletic, an average defender with a plus arm, who can’t hit. And the numbers bear that out.
In 2010 with the Tri-City Dust Devils in short season A ball, Wilson played 32 games, had 143 PA, and hit .230/.336/.377 with 2 HR and 36 whiffs.
The next year, with the Asheville Tourists of single A, he played in 61 games, had 236 PA, with a slash line of .228/.366/.342. He did show some speed, stealing 15 bases and only getting caught twice, but he also struck out 82 times, or a little over a third of all plate appearances.
Since then, he’s been to two Super Bowls, won one, and hit exactly one home run at batting practice during his one day of Spring Training for the Texas Rangers. Or as Allen Iverson might say, “We’re talking about batting practice? Not an actual game, but batting practice?”
Just like in the Clint Eastwood film, Trouble with the Curve, it’s just a fact that some very good athletes can’t hit breaking pitches at the major league level. When they can’t do it in A ball, it’s not likely to get easier by not playing for four years. So, while Russell Wilson’s “dream” makes for an enticing narrative, it’s not likely to ever become a reality.
Stick to what you do very well, Russell, and focus on getting the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl.
Related Slideshow: Oregon’s 15 Hottest Athletes
In case you've never noticed we have plenty of attractive athletes representing the state of Oregon. Here are GoLocalPDX's Top 15 in no particular order.
Alex Morgan, 25, is a forward for the Portland Thorns. She recently signed with the club in January of 2013 after playing for the Western New York Flash and the Seattle Sounders. She rose to prominence because of her success playing for the United States women’s national soccer team. Morgan was the youngest player to represent the U.S. during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She will once again represent team USA this summer as they prepare to head off to Canada for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Photo credit: Alex Morgan's Facebook page
Meyers Leonard, 23, was the 11th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Over the past few years he has been diligently working with the Portland Trailblazer’s coaching staff in order to refine his game. The Illinois alumni’s hard work has been paying off considering he’s having the best season of his career.
Photo credit: Meyers Leonard's Facebook page
Kaylyn Kyle, 26, is a Canadian soccer player who currently plays for the Portland Thorns. She is also a member of the Canadian women’s national team. Kyle was part of the 2012 Canadian national team that defeated France in the bronze medal game. She is also an ambassador for, Right To Play, which is an organization dedicated to using soccer as a resource to educate and empower children from disadvantaged communities.
Photo credit: Kaylyn Kyle's Facebook page
Gaston Fernandez, 31, is a striker for the Portland Timbers. The club signed the Argentinian striker back in January of 2014. During his MLS debut with the Timbers he scored an equalizer goal that extended the Timbers unbeaten home record to sixteen.
Photo credit: via forums.bigsoccer.com
Marcus Mariota, 21, is coming off one of the best seasons any Oregon Duck quarterback has ever experienced. He is the first Hawaiian-born athlete to ever win the Heisman trophy. This season he also led the Ducks to a 12-1 regular season record. Duck fans everywhere will be anxiously waiting to see where Mariota goes in this year’s NFL Draft.
Photo credit: via Oregon Football's Facebook page
Ellie Cribbins is a second year Blazer Dancer for the Portland Trailblazers. Cribbins is originally from Portland, Oregon but attended Oregon State University. This season proved to be a unique one for Cribbins since her sister also made the Blazer Dancers last August.
Photo credit: via Ellie Cribbin's Facebook page
Jake Gleeson, 24, is a New Zealand born goalie that is currently playing for the Portland Timbers. He signed with the club in February of 2011. Gleeson has taken pride over the past few years of being a young player who has worked his way up the ranks.
Photo credit: via solofutbol.cl
Janie Takeda, 21, is a senior outfielder for the University of Oregon. The Dallas Charge of the National Pro Fastpitch League recently drafted her 26th overall. Takeda was also selected to play on the United States women’s national team during the 2015 summer season. She is set to graduate from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication this spring.
Photo credit: Janie Takeda's Facebook page
Damian Lillard, 24, was the NBA’s 2012 Rookie Of The Year. He was the 4th Portland Trailblazer to ever win the award. Since then he’s been named an All-Star twice, as well as an All-NBA Third Team selection. Lillard had one of the most rememberable performances in Trailblazer history after he hit a three-pointer that defeated the Houston Rockets in game 6 of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Photo credit: Damian Lillard's Facebook page
Maggie Rouse, 20, is a junior cheerleader for the University of Oregon. She just completed her third year on the team. When she tried out as a freshman she never expected to make the squad. Yet, here she is two years later. She is currently majoring in Educational Foundations.
Photo credit: Maggie Rouse's Facebook page
LaMarcus Aldridge, 29, is widely considered to be one of the best power-forwards in the NBA. The Texas native is averaging 23.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season for the Portland Trailblazers. He is also a four-time NBA All-Star. On March 10th, 2015 Aldridge became the Trailblazers all-time leading rebounder.
Photo credit: LaMarcus Aldridge's Facebook page
Kaytianna McMillan is a gymnast for the Oregon State Beavers. Over the course of 2014 McMillan battled a series of injuries, yet she was still able to overcome them in order to become the Co-Champion of the 2014 NCAA University Park Regionals. Oregon State will be lucky to have her for the next couple of years.
Photo credit: Oregon State Athletics website
Devon Allen, 20, just completed his freshman year as a wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks. Not only is he the starting wide receiver for the Ducks he also runs track for the Oregon Outdoor Track and Field team. He recently earned a Gold Medal in the 110 meter hurdles during the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Although he is recovering from a torn ACL we hope to see him back on the field during the 2015-2016 season.
Phot credit: University of Oregon Facebook page
Chase De Leo
Chase De Leo, 19, currently plays center for the Portland Winterhawks. His quickness and overall creative offensive game earned him an invite to Team USA’s selection camp back in December of 2014. Of all 30 players who were invited, he was only one of 2 WHL players.
Photo credit: Chase De Leo's Facebook page
Darron Thomas, 24, is a professional quarterback for the Portland Thunder of the Arena Football League. During his college days he played for the Oregon Ducks. While starting for the Ducks he led to the team to the 2011 BCS National Championship game, as well as the 2012 Rose Bowl. The Texas native recently partook in the NFL Veteran Combine with the hope of upstarting his NFL career.
Photo credit: Portland Thunder Facebook page
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