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9 Smartest Players In Major League Baseball

by: Esteban On  Friday, September 16, 2011

The world of professional sports is probably the one place in life where being smart won’t help you get ahead. Just ask the 9 baseball players listed here. They’re probably the smartest guys in Major League Baseball, and I bet every one of them will tell you that their intelligence has more often been a hindrance than a help. That’s because in sports generally, but baseball in particular, you never want to over think a situation—which is precisely what brainiacs have the tendency to do. So they find themselves constantly struggling to keep their brains out of it and rely instead on pure instinct.

Still, every once in a while, a real smarty makes it all the way to the major leagues. So, in case you were wondering who those players might be, here’s a list of the smartest guys in baseball today.

9. Mark DeRosa (Giants)
mark derosa
First up is Ivy Leaguer Mark DeRosa, who graduated from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. While the stuck up blue-blood jackholes at Harvard and Yale tend to scoff at the idea of universities like Penn, Columbia, and Dartmouth being grouped together with them, it’s not like we’re talking about the online University of Phoenix. Penn is a damn good school. So we’re still gonna file utility-man extraordinaire DeRosa under “pretty smart guy.”

8. Craig Counsell (Brewers)

Brewers infielder Craig Counsell graduated from the greatest university in the history of this or any other world: Notre Dame. (If you think I’m overstating ND a bit, you’ve obviously never known someone who went there. I’m just reporting what I’ve been told.) However, the 41-year-old Counsell isn’t on this list just because of his academic pedigree. He is widely considered by his peers in MLB to be one of the brainiest guys around.

But it’s kind of hard to believe a guy with such a goofy batting stance isn’t a dimwit, isn’t it?

7. Miguel Batista (Mets)
miguel batista
This 40-year-old Dominican pitcher doesn’t have any higher learning on his résumé. So how is it he finds himself on this list of the nine smartest players in baseball? By being a published author, that’s how.

Batista has had a book of poetry entitled Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro (or Feelings in Black and White) published, as well as a thriller novel about a serial killer called The Avenger of Blood. I have no idea if these works are any good, but not just any old dummy can sit down and write a book. So for a baseball player, I’d say Miguel is of above average intelligence. Wouldn’t you?

6. Chris Young (Mets)
chris young
Chris Young went to a little private college in New Jersey called Princeton. Maybe you’ve heard of it? He was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates (how unfortunate) in the 2000 amateur draft, but refused to sign his rookie contract until he got assurances from the club that he would be able to complete his studies. So he didn’t end up becoming a full-time pro ballplayers until after he graduated with a degree in politics in 2002. (They don’t call it “political science” at Princeton like they do everywhere else. They can get away with that because, well, they’re Princeton.) Today he’s a pretty respectable no. 4 or no. 5 starting pitcher.

5. Fernando Perez (Mets)
fernando perez
Okay, Fernando here isn’t technically a Major Leaguer at the moment. He’s playing for the Met’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. But he has played 41 games at an outfielder in the majors and is always just a hot streak away from making it back to the show. Also, he graduated from Columbia University with a degree in creative writing and has had work published in Poetry Magazine. So as far as I’m concerned, he counts. Deal with it.

4. Kevin Slowey (Twins)
kevin slowey
Now we’re getting to the cream of the crop.

Kevin Slowey here is a 27-year-old starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. He didn’t attend a prestigious national university like some of the guys on this list, opting instead for a free ride at the academically solid Winthrop University in South Carolina. What sets Slowey apart, though, is the fact that he scored an exceptional 1420 on his SATs. That’s enough to get you into Harvard or Yale (if your dad is rich).

3. Chris Carter (Braves)
chris carter
Wow, Chris Carter is a big-time overachiever in the classroom. He was pre-med at Stanford (“the Harvard of the west coast”) and graduated in only three years. Needless to say, that is one hell of an accomplishment. Unfortunately, it’s been hit or miss (mostly miss) for this utility man in the Majors. Like #5 Perez, Chris is currently hanging out in the minors; however, he did manage to play in 100 games and get 180 plate appearances last year for the Mets. Though with all of their injuries in 2010, the Met’s were not much better than a minor league team.

2. Craig Breslow (Athletics)
craig breslow
The top two guys are really hard to rank. Both have reputations around baseball as being total brainiacs. So coming in at #2 is Oakland A’s pitcher Craig Breslow. Most publications seem to put this Yale molecular biophysics and biochemistry grad at #1, but not me. For one thing, you can’t be fooled by a fancy sounding academic discipline. Just because something has a lot syllables doesn’t mean it’s better than everything else. More importantly, George W. Bush is also a graduate of Yale. And no matter what you think of W’s politics, you have to admit he doesn’t exactly come off as a scholar. (I’m pretty sure that’s why people like him, isn’t it?)

Still, Breslow is one hell of a smart guy. So hats off to him.

1. Ross Ohlendorf (Pirates)
ross ohlendorf
At #1, I went with a guy whose college major involved a hell of a lot of pure mathematics. I’m talking of course about Pirates’ pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, who majored in Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton. His senior thesis—which he completed while actually playing in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system in 2006—used sabermetric statistical analysis to come up with a theory for the rate of return on investments made in the MLB draft. Today teams actually use his theories to determine how they should allocate their money. That’s pretty freaking awesome if you ask me.

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