Jason Michaels Biography: Outfielder for the Cleveland Indians

Previous to 2006, Jason Michaels had a hard time solidifying his status as a starter on the Philadelphia Phillies. Luckily for this outfielder, he got his chance in 2006, just not with the Phillies. In the 2005 off-season, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Arthur Rhodes, a move that happened because Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard were dealt to the Red Sox for top prospect Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, cash, and a player to be named later. Michaels was acquired to fill Crisp’s void; it marked the first time Jason was given the opportunity to start every day.

Jason Drew Michaels was born on May 4, 1976 in Tampa, Florida. He attended Miami (FL.) University, where he led his team in hitting (.411), RBI (89), doubles (32), total bases (189), and extra-base hits (50) in 1997. He was drafted three times (1994, ’96, ’97) prior to signing with the Phillies in 1998. He made his major league debut on April 6, 2001.

Although he has not been given many opportunities, Michaels had made the most of his time in the major leagues. He is a consistent .300 hitter and is especially adept at getting on base. He reached base in his first seven games of the 2005 campaign (8 H, 6 BB), and in 59 of his 68 starts that season. This right-handed hitting outfielder hit .323 (42-130) off left-handed pitching and had the sixth highest on-base % (.438) and sixth most walks (29) among National League hitters vs. left handed pitching. Thus, it is safe to say that Michaels was a highly underappreciated player by the league, although his manager valued him greatly but had trouble finding playing time for him.

Michaels is also an extremely versatile and clutch player. In 2005, he made 62 starts in center field (75 games overall), four starts in right field (13G), and two starts in left field (22G). Besides his solid defense in the field, he also has the ability to throw out base runners, evidenced by the eight assists he had in 2005. As for being clutch, he finished 2005 with 36 pinch-hits in his career, ninth-highest total in Phillies history.

Many fans were outraged that the Indians would trade such a personable player as Coco Crisp. It took a few months for people to warm up to the fact that Michaels would be patrolling left field rather than Coco Crisp, but his hustle and team spirit helped earn the fans’ respect. He got off to a slow start in 2006, but it may have taken him some time to adjust to American League pitching. The Indians are not exactly a team that thrives on the stolen base, but if they were a team of such stature, then Michaels could develop into a five-tool player: his career average is at the .300 mark, he can hit for power, he can drive in runs (not as many as one would expect, but he hits in the second position in the order), and he can steal a fair amount of bases.

He has a minor history of injuries, but he will always give his team the hustle and energy it needs to succeed. His is a thankless job, that of the role player behind the scenes that does not receive much publicity. If the Indians are to succeed (though probably not as much) in 2006 and beyond (more plausible), Michaels will most likely have some role in the success of the team. Not many people may notice what he does, but real fans and his teammates realize just how valuable he really is.
Jason Michaels Statistics

2001 (PHI): 1 H, 6 AB, 1 RBI, .167 AVG

2002 (PHI): 28 H, 105 AB, 16 R, 2, HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, .267 AVG

2003 (PHI): 36 H, 109 AB, 20 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, .330 AVG

2004 (PHI): 82 H, 299 AB, 44 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, .274 AVG

2005 (PHI): 88 H, 289 AB, 54 R, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB, 44 BB, 45 SO, .304 AVG

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