Michael Jordan Absolutely Would Have Played in the Major Leagues

Kyle Koster
Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan / ROBERT SULLIVAN/Getty Images

Michael Jordan stepping off the hardwood and hitting .202 in AA is an under-appreciated feat. His manager at Birmingham, Terry Francona, would go on to prove himself a quite competent gauge of talent. So the idea that Jordan had the capacity to play himself into the Majors means something coming from an authoritative (though potentially biased) source.

In 497 plate appearances, Jordan slashed .202/.289/.266. Francona believes that another thousand ABs would have paid great dividends. The "What If" game is tough to win because life is unpredictable. For example, who would have thought the greatest basketball player of all time would leave the NBA in his peak to play a different sport?

Count me among the skeptics in not believing MJ would have transformed himself into a MLB-caliber player in three minor league seasons. But that really isn't the point, is it? Jordan's on-field performance was certainly not the only factor.

It's entirely reasonable -- and perhaps even obvious -- that Jerry Reinsdorf would have parlayed having the biggest star on the planet into increased interest in the baseball team he owned. The Chicago White Sox won 85 games in 1996, 80 in 1997, and 80 again in 1998. It is not as though they were serious World Series contenders.

What, exactly, would have been the harm in bringing up Jordan on a September call-up or even carrying him on the roster? Would there be a major concern with taking away at-bats from Jeff Abbott or Greg Norton? I don't think so.

There is little to no doubt the great baseball experiment would have terminated in the highest level possible for Jordan. Whether he earned it or not isn't really material to the debate.