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Where Would Jackie Robinson Fit in Today's Fantasy Landscape?

A look at where I would rank Jackie Robinson if he were playing today.

Curt Gunther

In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, I thought I would take a look at Jackie Robinson as a fantasy player. It seems a little unfair to do that since fantasy sports don't account for Robinson's best attribute, his personality, but he was a very good player as well. We all know Robinson broke the Major League color barrier because he was the right person (emphasis on "person") but he wasn't necessarily the best baseball player in the Negro Leagues. Nonetheless, he let's see how would his stats stack up in today's fantasy game.

I'm going to evaluate Robinson based on his career average rates and 162-game averages as seen on Baseball Reference. Since he only played one year in the Negro Leagues, we wouldn't have had much information to consider for his first year of draft eligibility. That means I will use the following stat line:

.311 AVG, 111 R, 16 HR, 86 RBI, 23 SB

Also, we will consider him as a second baseman since that is where he played the majority of his games. Jackie Robinson was 28 when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers so he was in the prime of his career and in a lineup with players like Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese.

Let's start by looking at Robinson's performance indicators. He had a career walk rate of 12.8% which is impressive in itself but when considered in conjunction with 5.0% strikeout rate, it's even better and led to a .409 OBP. This meant that Robinson was on base a lot leading to his excellent runs scored totals and his opportunity to steal bases. His ISO peaked at .194 in 1954 but his career rate was only .162. Still, he slugged over .500 five of the ten years he played. Robnison's career BABIP and batting average were almost identical at .310 and .311, respectively, making him a reliable source of average for fantasy owners.

The metrics that we have to value Robinson's fantasy impact show us that he was an excellent offensive player. So where would he rank among today's second baseman and where would I take him in a draft? Second base was pretty thin coming into this year and hasn't exactly been a source of fantasy contributors in recent years. Below you'll see my rankings for the position coming into the year.






Robinson Cano




Ian Kinsler




Aaron Hill




Ben Zobrist




Dustin Pedroia

Red Sox



Brandon Phillips




Jason Kipnis




Jose Altuve




Rickie Weeks




Danny Espinosa



Jackie wouldn't supplant fellow Robinson at the top but I think we can start to consider him right after that. I would still have ranked Kinsler second because of his 30-30 potential with similar runs and RBI totals. I'm a believer in Aaron Hill and love his hitting situation in Arizona so I would also have kept him at third. When comparing Jackie Robinson to Ben Zobrist, I would take Zobrist only because he has a little more power which I value more than speed at the position. Robinson would, however, make my top-5 second basemen slotting in just ahead of Dustin Pedroia. This would also make him a top-25 overall player in my book.

As I said, Jackie Robinson's career was much more than his 5x5 stat line and reducing it to such does not do it justice. In fantasy sports, we often only consider numbers and attempt to analyze, predict and project those numbers. It would have been impossible for anyone at the time to accurately predict how Robinson would do in Major League Baseball. Enduring the boos, insults and death threats made Jackie Robinson's play on the field all the more impressive and proved that he truly was a great player in addition to an amazing person.