Jackie Robinson the Player

We all know that Jackie Robinson was the man who broke the color barrier. His place in history was already set before he even stepped onto Ebbets Field. What feeds his legacy is the fact that he was a great player. He endured so much in his life, yet he still put up amazing numbers. His career stats are not often spouted because he only played ten seasons. Also he did not make his MLB debut till age 28. His numbers can hardly be compared to other players who played twice as long.

Robinson did win the Rookie of the Year honors in 1947 and the MVP in 1949 thanks to a league –leading .342 batting average. He also led the league in stolen bases with in '47 and '49 the modest totals of 29 and 37 respectively. Jackie was a fearless runner. His infamous steal of home is pictorial history. Jackie also scored 947 in 1,382 games. The active leader in runs scored is Alex Rodriguez with 1,898 runs in 2,524 games. Robinson also had 1,518 career hits. Had he played just three more seasons he would have stepped into the 2,000 hit club.

Jackie was incredibly patient hitter and did strike out a lot. He managed 740 base-on balls in just 5,804 plate appearances while only striking out just 291 times. In today's game numbers like that would positively ridiculous. His career strike out rate was 5.0% the league average during his career was 10.4%. The strikeout rate in 2012 was 19.8%. The walk rate in Robinson's day was 9.7%; Jackie's rate was 12.8%. Fellow elite Second Baseman Robinson Cano's career strikeout rate is 11.8% and his walk rate is 5.6%. Current walk rate leaders Adam Dunn (16.2%) and Todd Helton (14.3%) have career strikeout rates of 28.2% and 12.1%. Joltin' Joe DiMaggio is widely known for his lack of career strikeouts. He struck out just 369 times in 7,673 plate appearances for a rate of 4.8%. DiMaggio also had 790 career walks for rate of 10.3%. I am noting DiMaggio because his career overlapped Jackie's hence the era is similar. The only modern day players to produce a lower strikeout rate than Jackie's were Tony Gwynn (4.2%) and Bill Buckner (4.5%.)

Comparing players from different era's is always very hard. Obviously if Jackie broke into big leagues as a wide-eyed 21-year old his strikeout rate would be higher and walk rate would have been lower.

Mr. Robinson's place in baseball history is an important chapter in American history as well. Thanks to in depth baseball stat sheets we can always ask what if? Jackie's means so much to so many. He is a role model for diversity and patience. He was also a hell of player, who's potential was never fully realized.

Josh Johnson

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