Jason Drew Michaels
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 204 lb.
- School Okaloosa-Walton College, University of Miami
- High School Jesuit High School (Tampa)
- Debut April 6, 2001
- Final Game September 13, 2011
- Born May 4, 1976 in Tampa, FL USA
Outfielder Jason Michaels is the grandson of John Michaels. He played 11 seasons in the major leagues.
1992-1998: Amateur Career
Michaels hit .421 as a junior in high school and .411 as a senior. The San Diego Padres took him in the 49th round of the 1994 amateur draft. Continuing on to junior college, he hit .421 with 9 home runs for Okaloosa-Walton College in 1996. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked him in the 44th round of the 1996 amateur draft. He transferred to Miami and led the #3 team in the nation with a .411 average, 106 hits, 32 doubles and 89 RBI. Among his teammates were Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff and Bobby Hill. He played in the 1997 College World Series. Michaels tied Jeff Guiel and Adam Kennedy for third in NCAA Division I in doubles and tied J.D. Drew and 3 others for 12th with 106 hits. The St. Louis Cardinals chose him in the 15th round of the 1997 amateur draft; for the third time, he went unsigned after being drafted.
In his senior year of college, Jason batted .378, slugged .760, scored 75 runs, drove in 65 and stole 18 bases but the numbers were not as good as teammates Hill (.404, 87 R, 46 SB), Burrell (.432, 17 HR) and Huff (.412, 21 HR, 95 RBI). Joining the quartet was 2B Manny Crespo (.348, 16 HR). Despite the talent, Miami fell short again in the 1998 College World Series, going 1-2 and being eliminated in the first round. The Philadelphia Phillies selected Michaels in the 4th round of the 1998 amateur draft, the 104th pick overall, and this time he signed.
Michaels started off his professional career with the Batavia Muckdogs, producing at a .268/~.375/.494 rate. He tied for third in the New York-Penn League with 11 home runs, one shy of the lead, and was 5th with 49 RBI. In 1999, Jason was with the Clearwater Phillies, batting .306/.396/.494 with 91 runs and 31 doubles. He tied for 4th in the Florida State League in runs, was 5th in OBP and 7th in batting average. He did not make the FSL post-season All-Star team though outfield mate Eric Valent was chosen.
Michaels continued to produce well on the farm in 2000, now with the AA Reading Phillies. He hit .295/.337/.451 as his walk total dropped to 28 and his home runs to 10. He led the club in doubles (30) and tied Johnny Estrada for the team lead in average.
Jason spent part of April 2001 with the Phillies, going 1 for 6. He struck out against Todd Van Poppel in his first MLB at-bat, pinch-hitting for Wayne Gomes. His first big league hit was a RBI single off of Mike Remlinger, scoring college teammate Burrell; Michaels had been pinch-hitting for Eddie Oropesa. He was with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons for most of the year, hitting .261/.332/.443 with 17 home runs and 11 steals (in 14 tries) in 109 games. He struck out 126 times while drawing 37 walks as he had not regained his prior walk rate. He played error-free ball in the outfield but Mark Budzinski led International League outfielders with a perfect fielding percentage in more chances.
Michaels started 2002 back with Scranton but was recalled after 9 games when Dave Hollins was placed on the DL. Michaels spent the rest of the year with Philadelphia, batting .267/.347/.476 for a 120 OPS+ in 81 games as a backup outfielder for the 2002 Phillies. He appeared for the Gigantes de Carolina that winter.
In 2003, Michaels was back as Philly's 5th outfielder. He hit .330/.416/.569 for a whopping 162 OPS+ in 125 plate appearances over 76 games.
Michaels saw increased playing time in 2004 but his production fell off. He batted .274/.365/.415 with 10 home runs, 44 runs and 40 RBI in 299 AB and was again showing a good batting eye. He continued to see action in all three outfield slots.
The Floridian's production rose to .304/.399/.415 in 2005 in a similar role to 2004. He tied for 10th among outfielders in the 2005 NL with 8 assists despite playing only half of the time and fielded .990. Michaels was involved in a fight with a cop on July 3, wrestling the police officer to the ground and tearing his shirt before he could be restrained. He spent six months doing community service and charges were later dropped. He finished his Phillies career 9th on the team's all-time list with 36 pinch-hits.
2006-2008: Indians and Pirates
In January of 2006, Michaels was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Arthur Rhodes. He hit second and played left field for the 2006 Indians, hitting .267/.326/.391 with 32 doubles and 77 runs in his first MLB season as a full-time player. The 30-year-old had a 85 OPS+ and fielded .991. As he had hit better against southpaws, playing regularly against right-handed pitching likely caused his statistical decline. He was named Cleveland's Roberto Clemente Award winner for his work in the community.
Michaels was back to a part-time role in 2007, hitting .270/.324/.397 (.287/.359/.441 against LHP) but still played more in left field than anyone else on the team.
After a slow start in 2008 (.207/.258/.276), Jason was designated for assignment to make room for Ben Francisco on the club. He was then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later and cash, replacing Nyjer Morgan as Pittsburgh's backup outfielder behind Xavier Nady, Nate McLouth and Jason Bay. Pirates manager John Russell and coach Gary Varsho had pushed for the trade, having worked with Michaels in the Phillies organization. Jason started his Pittsburgh career 3 for 5. Michaels provided some clutch hits in his time in Pittsburgh, but his batting line for the 2008 Pirates would only be .228/.300/.382 in 102 games for a 82 OPS+.
Michaels listed "spearfishing" as a hobby in the 2008 Media Guide but this was a lie. The former community service award winner said he made it up and "I didn't think people read [the biographies]."
Pittsburgh did not re-sign Michaels, who was picked up by the Houston Astros for 2009.