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Jackie Robinson celebration: never forget, he was a great baseball player too

Jackie Robinson was not only an American civil rights icon and one of the most important Americans in the last century, he was one of the best players in baseball during his era and there might have been no better complete player to ever wear Dodger blue


On Monday, Jackie Robinson will be honored in every Major League ballpark as baseball recognizes the 66th anniversary of Robinson's first game as a Brooklyn Dodger. While the focus is on the impact he made in helping break the color line in American society, one shouldn't hesitate to marvel at his great baseball career.

Even though he started his career at the age of 28, he was among the best players in baseball:

  • From 1947-1956, Robinson's WAR (Baseball-Reference) was 61.6, he was tied with Ted Williams for second place to Stan Musial's 75.6 WAR.
  • Only Duke Snider's 66 WAR (who had 1800 more PA as a Dodger) is higher than Robinson's.
  • From 1947, only 7 other National League players have had a higher WAR from age 28 than Robinson, 6 are in the HOF with the seventh being Barry Bonds.
  • Jackie Robinson had 4 seasons of a .900+ OPS when he was primarily a second baseman. Since 1947 only Chase Utley has had more seasons (5) as a second baseman with .900+ OPS, HOF Joe Morgan and Roberto Alomar had 3 and 4 seasons respectively with .900+ OPS. The only other current second baseman with a .900+ OPS season is Robinson Cano who did it in 2010 and 2012.
  • Robinson's two seasons (1949, 1951) of .420+ OBP, .520+ SLG and .330+ BA has only been matched by one other second baseman, Jeff Kent in 2000.
  • Robinson's MVP 1949 season of scoring 120+ runs, driving in 120+ runs, a .900+ OPS and stealing over 30 bases (37) has only been matched 5 other times since then, Henry Aaron did it in 1963, Ellis Burks and Barry Bonds did it in 1996, Larry Walker in 1997 and Jeff Bagwell in 1999.

One note about being hit by pitches, from 1947 to 1956, Robinson was in the top 3 in being hit by pitch in National League in seven seasons, one other season he was 7th. His total of 72 HBP during those years is second to Minnie Minoso who was hit 98 times during that same time.