- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 159 lb.
Stephan Jäger was a star infielder in Germany. He is the son of Hans-Norbert Jäger and brother of Frank Jäger and Hans-Peter Jäger, all of whom played for the German national team as well. He was a member of 11 Bundesliga-1 champions, including 6 as player-manager.
He played in the 1983 European Junior Championship, going 1-0 with two unearned runs in seven innings; at the plate, he was 3 for 9 with a double and he stole two bases. In the 1984 European B-Level Championship, the teenager was 1 for 4 with four walks and a double. He walked 14 and allowed 11 runs (7 earned) in 5 2/3 IP. In 1985 and 1986, he was named the best junior pitcher in Germany. He helped Germany win the 1986 European B-Level Championship; still in his teens, he was 7 for 18 with a double, five steals and six runs in four games. He led the team in steals, tied for first in hits and was third in runs. He hit .400/.526/.867 with four runs and five RBI in four games in the 1986 European Junior Championship as well; he pitched three shutout innings but shoulder problems kept him from pitching much after that.
The Mannheim native hit .278/.333/.316 with 4 runs and 3 steals in six games for Germany in the 1987 European Championship, when they finished last. He led the team in hits (5, 2 ahead of Yorn Ziesche), slugging (60 points more than Wolfgang Loos), average, steals (half the team's total) and runs. In the Bundesliga-1 that year, he was named Best Batter of the finals, Best Pitcher in the finals and Finals MVP.
Stephan won a Triple Crown in the Bundesliga in 1988, leading in average (.540), home runs (11) and RBI (40). He won MVP honors. Still only 19 years old, he became a coach for the Mannheim Tornados and would remain coach or manager until 1997. He hit .379/.486/.586 with 6 walks, 7 runs and 7 RBI in 8 games in the 1989 European Championship. He led Germany in hits (11), had both of Germany's triples (no one homered for them), was second in runs (one behind Ralph Wentz), tied Loos for second in RBI (two behind Mathias Winterrath), led in OBP, was second to Oliver Heidecker in average and was second in slugging (.007 behind Winterrath) and led in OPS. He also became manager of Germany's youth national team that year, a role he held through 1993.
In the 1990 European B-Level Championship, he produced at a .400/.500/.733 clip with 7 runs, 8 RBI and four steals in four games. He tied for first on the club in hits, tied for fourth in runs, tied his brother Frank for the home run lead (1), tied for first in RBI, tied Ralf Schinko for second in steals and led in both slugging and OPS. He won his second Bundesliga-1 batting title that season.
During the 1992 European B-Level Championship, he was 7 for 21 with 7 walks, 10 runs and four homers in five games; it was a high-offense event and he did not lead Germany in anything. He was second in walks and second to Klaus Knüttel in homers and slugging. He fell to .200/.294/.367 with four runs, four RBI and four errors in the 1993 European Championship. He still led Germany with three doubles (one more than Sven Hunholz), tied for first with one triple and was second to Wilgen Reyes in runs. For the tournament, he tied for 6th in doubles. His .911 fielding percentage at 2B was second-lowest among qualifiers, ahead of only Rudi Brouwers.
The veteran starred for his country in the 1995 European Championship, his last appearance for the national team - .368/.538/.421, 7 BB, 7 R, 0 E in 6 G. He made the top 15 in the event in OBP and walks and was named All-Star second baseman, beating out Eddie Dix (.379/.438/.759, 15 R) among others. Playing for the Trier Cardinals in Germany that year, he hit .344/.435/.322 with 41 runs and 20 steals in 22 tries over 28 games (it is the lone Bundesliga season for which we have complete stats online during which he played all year; the online Bundesliga archive only goes back to 1994 and he was a part-timer in '94). In 1995, he tied for 7th in the southern Bundesliga-1 in hits (31), was second in runs and third in steals (7 behind leader Octavio Medina). He then batted .370/.469/.519 with 8 runs and 5 steals in 7 playoff games as Trier won the title. He was a part-time player in 1996-1997, going 14 for 32, still hitting well when taking the field. In 1997, the Tornados retired his number 20, the first number they ever retired. The next year, he and Martin Helmig were the second and third inductees into the German Baseball Hall of Fame, following Roland Hoffmann. His father Hans-Norbert followed in 2006.
Through 2010, Stephan was among the all-time German national team leaders in games played (43, tied for 11th with Karl Phillipp), European Championships played in (8, tied for 5th with his brother Frank, Phillipp and Jendrick Speer), average (.325, 7th, between Tarek Shaer and Winterrath), home runs (5, tied for 5th), RBI (29, tied for 7th with Kai Gronauer), hits (50, 5th, between Speer and Gronauer), runs (47, 2nd, two behind Dominik Wulf), walks (32, 2nd, 3 behind Speer), slugging (.532, 6th, between Wulf and Marvin Appiah), OBP (.432, 7th, between Knüttel and Schinko), steals (18, 1st, four ahead of Hoffmann) and assists (78, tied for 7th with his father and Claus Helmig). He also hit .433 in the Bundesliga-1 and his 139 steals were still the league record as of 2011.