A Player Agent That Can Say “I’ve Been There”

Reggie Jefferson had several formative run-ins with MLB roster management led to his career as a sports agent. He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds before becoming an adult and was part of a trade in his first MLB season. The Reds’ front office accidentally (how does this happen?) designated him for assignment instead of extending a short-term stay on the disabled list, allowing the Cleveland Indians to make a move for the young outfielder. The other player in the transaction, Tim Costo, remained in the majors for just 146 plate appearances while Jefferson would go on to become a career .300 hitter.

Jefferson was involved in another trade a few years later, spending one season with Seattle Mariners and then signing with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 1995. He would spend the remainder of his career in Boston, ultimately playing two-thirds of his total MLB games with the team.

In 1999 he found himself cut from Boston’s postseason roster, a decision he found perplexing in light of his hitting prowess (.316 lifetime average with the team). The team viewed the decision through the lens of needing additional defensive depth and considered Jefferson a part-time player due to a chronic inability to hit against left-handed pitching (barely clearing the Mendoza line). Exclusion from the postseason led to harsh words and a parting of ways when the decision was announced.

After leaving the Red Sox he added one more item to his “I’ve been there” resume: Jefferson played for one season with the Seibu Lions in Japan.

On-Field Performance

Jefferson’s on-field legacy ultimately comes down to hitting. He wasn’t fast, making him more suited to designated hitter duties than playing the outfield. I mentioned earlier that he was a career .300 hitter. Most of the 250 or so players that have achieved this mark have been relatively speedy players as beating out a few extra hits can make or break the case for .300. Jefferson may have been the least inclined to run, racking up the fewest stolen bases of any career .300 batter with a lifetime total of 2.

A preternatural ability to clobber right-handed pitching lent itself well to pinch hitting duties, so I am a bit surprised he didn’t wind up in the National League at some point in his career. Jefferson has one particular pinch-hit stat to his credit: He was the first player to ever bat in favor of Alex Rodriguez in a MLB game, replacing him a couple times in July 1994.

Adding Refractor #139

This was one of the earlier cards I picked up in my quest to build the ’93 Finest set. At the time I was just grabbing whatever cards could be obtained for less than $20 in great condition. This one certainly fits that description, coming back from grading in a PSA 9 case. The card reports Jefferson to be a switch hitter, a practice he abandoned the following season.

Another Interesting Reggie Jefferson Card

I love that Jefferson is the answer to the trivia question of which career .300 hitter has the least career stolen bases. That’s why I am drawn to his 1998 Topps card #427 and its many variations. All feature Jefferson sliding into third base. He did in fact steal a bag for Boston in 1997, though it was second base in a July 5 game against the White Sox. It would be great to have a card depicting one of his stolen bases but my research has so far identified this as the closest one can get.

Above: The Diamondbacks Inaugural Logo parallel of Reggie Jefferson’s 1998 Topps card.