After 15 seasons in Major League Baseball, long-time outfielder Rick Ankiel has officially retired from the game.
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) March 5, 2014
The 34-year-old Ankiel was last seen with both the Astros and Mets in 2013, but he will be remembered for a long, winding journey that included a meteoric rise through the minors as a pitcher, a well-publicized battle with control problems (to put it mildly), and a resurrection as a power-hitting outfielder. Ankiel was once a top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, where he threw 175 innings with a 3.50 ERA in 2000 (as a 20/21 year old!!!), but the wheels came careening off when he walked more than a batter per inning (not a misprint) in 2001, and that was the end.
Following that, though, Ankiel hit 25 home runs for the Cardinals in 2008 and blasted a memorable playoff home run as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2010. His career batting numbers are nothing special (.241/.302/.422 slash line with 76 home runs in 2,115 plate appearances), but the fact that he could be a realistic Major League hitter is fairly remarkable.
Not many players have achieved the heights that Ankiel did as a pitcher while still sustaining a measure of success in the batter’s box, and he enjoyed a fantastic career. Best of luck to him in the next stage.