As you might already know, LeBron James recently had to wear a full Chicago Cubs uniform, because he lost a World Series bet with his BFF Dwyane Wade.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was recently asked how he thought LeBron looked in that Cubbies gear. “He looked great. He could play centerfield for us anytime, man,” Maddon told TMZ.
Maddon was joking, of course, but what if LeBron really did pull an MJ and try his hand at professional baseball?
In terms of pure size, LeBron James would be quite an upgrade in centerfield for the Cubs. Dexter Fowler, the team’s starting centerfielder last season, measures 6-foot-5, 195 pounds. LeBron is 6-foot-8, 250 pounds.
Also, LeBron’s sheer strength and jumping ability would instantly make him one of the most athletic players in MLB. But for all of his impressive attributes, LeBron would probably stink on the diamond. His size and athleticism might cross over well to a sport like football, but baseball depends more on sport-specific skills.
Judging by the existing evidence, LeBron doesn’t have what it takes. He once took batting practice before a 2003 MLB game between the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. According to an AP story from that time, LeBron whiffed on his first nine pitches. When Tom Hume—the Reds’ bullpen coach at the time and the man who threw to LeBron during BP—was asked about the NBA star’s swing, he didn’t mince words. “He needs a lot of work,” Hume said.
LeBron also threw out (or rather lobbed out) the first pitch at that same game:
David Schoenfield, a blogger at ESPN.com’s SweetSpot, pondered how LeBron might fare in MLB in a 2011 article, in which he wrote, “In the NBA, height matters. In baseball, you need the skills. And that’s why LeBron would have been a lousy baseball player. Unless, of course, he has a 95-mph fastball.”
Judging by that first pitch, we’re guessing he maxes out at around 65 mph.
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