Tuesday, January 7, 2014

#136 Jeff King

About the Front: Do you think Jeff King ever tried to pick up women by telling them he was Don Mattingly?

About the Back: King was the first overall pick in the 1986 draft, chosen ahead of future stars such as Greg Swindell, Matt Williams, Kevin Brown, and Gary Sheffield.

Triple Play:

1. Jeff had a career year in 1996, bashing 36 doubles and 30 home runs and driving in 111. He slugged .497, had an OPS+ of 117, and even stole 15 bases in 16 tries.

2. In what might be the only trade of its kind, he was sent to the Royals in December 1996 with Jay Bell for Joe Randa and three other players named Jeff - pitchers Granger, Martin, and Wallace.

3. King was only 21 games into his third season in Kansas City when he abruptly retired on May 23, 1999. He had suffered from chronic back problems throughout his career, but sportswriter Joe Posnanski has long maintained that the infielder disliked baseball enough to walk away just one day after accruing enough service time to be eligible for a guaranteed MLB pension.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I read an article about first-overall picks and was surprised to see a player as seemingly ordinary as Jeff King among their number. But by the end of his career, I think he'd justified the selection.

Bill James Said: "His control of the strike zone improved dramatically in '93, as he struck out 24% less often, and walked 72% more often."

On This Date in 1993: January 7. The Detroit Tigers re-up with first baseman Cecil Fielder, giving him a five-year, $36 million contract to make him the highest-paid player in MLB for the time being.

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