May 29, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Rick Ankiel (16) singles to left allowing a runner to score during the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mets won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran MLB outfielder Rick Ankiel officially retires

After 15 seasons in Major League Baseball, long-time outfielder Rick Ankiel has officially retired from the game.

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.

Tags: Houston Astros New York Mets Rick Ankiel St. Louis Cardinals

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