Saturday, April 23, 2016

Anatomy of a Baseball Card: Michael Jordan 1990 "White Sox"

The greatest basketball player impersonating a baseball player. 

Before he entertained the idea for real, Michael Jordan apparently did a photo op with the Chicago White Sox, taking batting practice and pressing the flesh. It's the sort of thing that Billy Crystal does every year. Someone got really excited about it and made a baseball card or two out of the blurry photos. Crummy unlicensed cards were pretty popular at the beginning of the '90s, also the era of the Simpsons bootleg t-shirt.

This one comes complete with stats, but that's not the most impressive thing about it. Some SABR geek had the wherewithal to compute MJ's impressive basketball stats into totally legitimate "Baseball Stats". Someone must have had a blast working on that rebounds-to-RBI formula.


  1. I'd like to see how he could average 185 games a year. That'd even be nearly impossible today if you counted playoff games, too. Enough tiebreak or rainout makeups could get you there I guess.

  2. If anyone could average 185 games a year, it would be MJ. GOAT

  3. So...arguably the most dominant basketball player in the league, when converted, becomes an average All-Star MLB player? I would expect better, honestly. I don't think there's any formula. They either stole someone's stats or made up some numbers.

  4. I remember i used to have that card.

    couple things...

    using those stats, his batting average would be .292, not .302
    his on base percentage would be a sad .329
    the .493 slugging percentage was excellent for the time.
    the slugging managed to bring a solid .822 OPS for an outfielder despite the poor obp.
    regarding Runs and RBI, you can't just convert something into those numbers. they are completely dependent on teammates and opportunities.
    The 1990 White Sox were a good team at 94-68. Nobody had more than 74 RBI or 85 Runs. The outfielders on that team were Ivan Calderon, Lance Johnson and Sammy Sosa while Dan Pasqua DH'd. Pasqua and Calderon aren't moving anywhere. If Jordan replaced one of Johnson or Sosa it would have probably been Johnson. Still, given that lineup, no way Jordan gets those RBI or Runs.

    He would have had the 3rd best OPS on the behind catcher Fisk and DH Pasqua.

    Would he have deserved a spot on the AL All-Star team that year?

    MJ's Line followed by guys on the team


    MJ .292/.329/.493/.822
    K. Puckett .298/.365/.446/.811
    R. Henderson .325/.439/.577/1.016
    J Canseco .274/.371/.543/.914
    K Griffey .300/.366/.481/.847
    E. Burkes .296/.349/.486/.835
    G. Bell .265/.303/.422/.724

    Well, her certainly should get it over George Bell but...
    C. Fielder .277/.377/.592/.969

    So nope. Not and all-star.
    I'm sorry, but if the best player in the NBA isn't even an all-star level player after a so-called conversion, it's bogus.

    Damn, didn't think I'd go on that long.
    Now. I'm embarrassed.


Comments are highly encouraged, but then again, so is eating your fruits and vegetables.