Friday, February 5, 2016

The lesson of Jeff Samardzija

Here's an item that's been on my back burner quite a while: A detailed look by Baseball America's J.J. Cooper at why it is that Jeff Samardzija will likely get paid more over the course of his career as a middling starting pitcher than Calvin Johnson will as the best receiver in football.

Cooper first posted a version of this about two months ago, when the rumors arose that Johnson would abandon his football career. It's an interesting comparison, since the two were collegiate stars in the same NFL draft (2007), and Johnson was viewed as a good outfield prospect as a high schooler.

Samardzija chose baseball, Johnson football, and while Johnson has been paid more so far, Samardzija just signed a five-year deal for $90 million -- after leading the American League in runs and hits allowed. Meanwhile, Johnson reportedly has told the Detroit Lions he's had enough.

A few days ago, Antwaan Randle-El has said he wishes he had played baseball rather than football. And this lovely snippet floated through my Twitter timeline last night:

Omalu is a leading researcher on concussions; Will Smith plays him in the movie Concussion.

No Twins fan of recent vintage can say concussions aren't an issue in baseball. The career arcs of Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Corey Koskie and even Denard Span testify to that reality. But baseball's CTE rate sure ain't 90 percent.

Cooper's wrap up is accurate, even understated:
Most players don’t really have a choice of choosing between the NFL and MLB. Most are significantly better at one sport than the other. But if all things are equal, Samardzija is a great example of how it pays to play baseball.

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