This post is about Deion Sanders the baseball player. He is not to be confused with his alter-ego football player. Deion the football player was electric. He went from sideline to sideline with relative ease, picking off passes and running back kicks. However, Neon Deion received a lot of pub for playing two pro sports. And while that is totally impressive, he was nothing more than a mediocre ball player.
Sanders was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 30th round of the 1988 draft. He played in the minors for the Yankees while playing pro football with the Atlanta Falcons and really living up to his “Prime Time” nickname. Honestly, I think Deion was probably rushed to the big leagues in 1989 when he made his debut with the Yankees. This is back when the Yankees were a total train wreck, and the electric Sanders could create a little buzz around the team.
In his two years in pinstripes, Sanders hit a paltry .178 with 5 homers and 9 steals in 180 at-bats. Following the 1990 season, the Yankees released Deion, making him a free agent. The Yanks were concerned that by splitting his time on baseball and football, he was not progressing as a player. Fair enough. The Atlanta Braves took a chance on him and signed him prior to the 1991 campaign.
Prime Time took his 4.1 40-yard-dash time to the Braves and had his best years as a ball player. In 1991 he sucked, posting an OPS+ of only 68. However, in 1992 he enjoyed his best season as a pro. He appeared in only 97 games for the NL champion Braves, but still found time to lead the National League in triples with 14 (Huge). Sanders also swiped 26 bases and hit over .300 for the only time in his career.
In the 1992 NLCS the Braves were in the midst of a big series (obviously) and Deion decided to play football the same week. Nice. For this, he was criticized by professional idiot, Tim McCarver. Tim thought it was a strange decision (I happen to agree) for Deion to leave his baseball team during the playoffs to play in the NFL. Deion took exception to this and reacted in the following manner:
Classy. Deion never recaptured the magic on the diamond that he had in 1992. Maybe karma caught up with him. He bounced around a bit, playing with the Reds and the Giants before finally bowing out for good after the 2001 season (his first appearance since 1997).
Here are the career totals:
- .263 batting average
- .319 OBP
- 80 OPS+
- 39 HR
- 186 SB
For the most part though, Deion is remembered for his attitude. An attitude that for some reason flew in the NFL but not in MLB. He was a pretty effective 4th outfielder during his prime, but that was about it. His speed could change a game, even in baseball.
This is most people’s problem with Deion. He really seemed to be in business for himself at all times. He was a tremendous athlete, a mediocre baseball player, and Hall of Fame football player, and a petulant child.