Edwin Jackson

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Edwin Jackson Jr.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Edwin Jackson batting-5566.jpg

Edwin Jackson established the major league record for most teams played for, registering his 14th team with an appearance for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019. He was the youngest player in the National League in both 2003 and 2004 and emerged as a top starting pitcher with the pennant-winning Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.

Jackson was an Army brat, which explains his birth in West Germany, and his father Edwin Sr. was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia. Junior played baseball and football for CYS&S at Fort Benning in the 1990s. The prep star played basketball, football and baseball until his sophomore year at Shaw High School, when he decided to put all his efforts into baseball. Jackson's big break came in 2001, his senior year.

"There were two other kids scouts were looking at and it just so happens at this particular game we were playing at Golden Park against Columbus High School," Edwin Sr. said. "Edwin was the center fielder and he threw one ball from center field all the way home and got the guy out. And from that point in time, the scout asked about him, but we had no intention of thinking he would be drafted because they never really came to look at him up until his senior year."

Jackson's high school coach Brian McCall remembers the throw by Jackson: "It was close to the wall - close to 400 feet," he said. "Edwin threw a dart to home plate. There was no bounce, no nothing. It was a straight line drive probably at 95 miles per hour. It was incredible." Shortly after the game, the Jacksons received a phone call from a major league scout saying they wanted to draft Jackson.

"It was an unexpected surprise to be drafted straight out of high school but playing in the major leagues was always a dream of mine," Jackson said.

He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2001 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an outfielder, but he never appeared anywhere in pro ball but as a pitcher. He was signed by scout Lon Joyce and made his pro debut with the 2001 GCL Dodgers.

Jackson played with the Dodgers until 2005, never establishing himself as a regular until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. There, after a couple of difficult years, including a 5-15, 5.76 season in 2007, he led the team with a team-record 14 victories in 2008. He was left off the club's American League Division Series roster, as manager Joe Maddon saw no need for a fifth starter in that series (the Rays' had an excellent starting rotation including Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine, making Jackson, who was sporting a high 4.42 ERA, the odd man out in spite of his solid won/loss record).

"There wasn't much I could do about not being selected for the (ALDS) game, so I just went on with a positive attitude," Edwin said in an interview with an Army newspaper.

Edwin's positive attitude paid off as he was put on the American League Championship Series roster. He pitched two innings in relief and went on to pitch two innings in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. With young Jeff Niemann and David Price ready to join the starting rotation, the Rays decided to cash in on Jackson's solid season in a trade with the Detroit Tigers, in return for outfield prospect Matthew Joyce.

Edwin jackson army pic.jpg

Jackson quickly established himself as the Tigers' number two starter, behind Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander, and was selected for the 2009 All-Star Game, in which he pitched an inning. He finished the year with a record of 13-9 with an excellent 3.62 ERA, the 7th best in the American League. He topped 200 innings and 150 strikeouts for the first time. After the season, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a three-team blockbuster deal that brought Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth and Austin Jackson to the Tigers, Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, and Jackson and Ian Kennedy to the D-Backs.

Jackson had a so-so start for the D-Backs in 2010, starting the season 5-5 with an ERA around 4.50. On June 25, he showed the form that made him an All-Star the previous year, as he pitched a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. He needed 149 pitches to complete the game, but manager A.J. Hinch let him do it, figuring the last-place D-Backs needed the lift that Jackson's performance could provide, and that he could give him extra rest later on to compensate. The final score was 1-0, and Jackson struggled with his control early, walking 7 batters over the first 3 innings and 8 overall before settling down. A month after that historic performance, on July 30, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in return for two young pitchers, Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg. At that point, his record stood at 6-10, 5.16. Hudson caught fire for the D-backs after his arrival in Phoenix, going 7-1, 1.69 over the season's last two months, but Jackson did not do badly himself. In 11 starts for the Pale Hose, he went 4-2, with a solid 3.24 ERA over 11 starts, striking out 77 in 75 innings against only 18 walks. Overall, he was 10-12, 4.47, striking out 181 in 209.1 innings. He continued to pitch fairly well for the White Sox over the first half of 2011, going 7-7 with a 3.94 ERA in 19 starts. On July 27th, he was traded twice in the span of one day, first going to the Toronto Blue Jays along with 3B Mark Teahen in return for Ps Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart, and then being flipped to the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-player trade that saw OF Colby Rasmus go to Toronto. At that point, still only 27, Jackson had already belonged to seven different organizations. He stayed with the Cardinals long enough to be part of the team that won the 2011 World Series, then became a free agent after the season.

Jackson won a game for the Washington Nationals in April 2012, becoming the first pitcher since at least 1900 to win starts for seven different major league teams before age 29. He went 10-11, 4.03 in 31 starts for the Nats, pitching 189 2/3 innings. While he was not one of the team's top starters, he was given a chance to start a postseason game because of General Manager Todd Rizzo's controversial decision to shut down young ace Stephen Strasburg in mid-September in order to limit his innings pitched. Thus, Jackson got to start Game 3 of the NLDS against his previous team, the Cardinals on October 10th. He was roughed up, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings, and the Nationals lost the game, 8-0. He also pitched an inning in relief in Game 5, giving up another run. He became a free agent once again after the season, and on December 20th signed with the Chicago Cubs for four years and $52 million.

Jackson's first couple of seasons with the Cubs were rough ones. On the positive side, he was healthy and took his regular turn on the mound, but the results were not what the Cubs had expected. In 2013, he went 8-18, 4.98 in 31 starts, leading the National League in losses. In 175 1/3 innings, he gave up 197 hits and 59 walks. Things went even worse in 2014. While he did make 27 starts, he only pitched a total of only 140 2/3 innings, a result of many early exits, and his record was again very uninspiring, at 6-15, 6.33. He continued to give up way too many hits - 168 - and walks - 63, and maintaining a decent strikeout rate was not enough to compensate for the surfeit of baserunners. On March 24, 2015, he was involved in a funny incident while with the Cubs in spring training. Scheduled to start against the Oakland Athletics that day, he trusted his car's GPS to take him to HoHoKam Park, but the machine guided him to the A's former spring training home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, a much longer drive; he finally made it to the right park about 25 minutes before he was to start, and as a result Blake Parker, who was supposed to succeed him on the mound, took his place. He joined the game in the 2nd inning, but perhaps should not have bothered, as he was battered around for 8 runs on 9 hits in 1 2/3 innings. The rough day was particularly problematic as he was no longer guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation, having to fight Travis Wood for the job. He ended up relegated to the bullpen, pitching largely in mop-up duty. He did better than in his previous two years with the team, with a 3.19 ERA in 23 games and a 2-1 record, but he was clearly no longer in the team's plans. With the Cubs primed to make a run for a postseason slot in the second half, he was designated for assignment on July 20th to make room on the roster when veteran reliever Rafael Soriano was ready to join the club after a minor league stint. On August 14th, he signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves, who were planning to use him as a reliever in order to determine whether he would be of use in the longer term. He pitched pretty well for the Braves: in 24 games, he went 2-2, 2.92 with 1 save, giving him a season line of 4-3, 3.07 in 55 2/3 innings. It was his lowest ERA since his first season back in 2003.

On January 13, 2016 Jackson hooked up with yet another team - his 11th organization - when he signed a one-year free agent contract with the Miami Marlins for the minimum salary. It was a short stay, as he pitched 8 times in relief, went 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA and was handed his release on June 2nd. He then joined the San Diego Padres and in his first appearance for his 11th team, he made a bid to become the first pitcher in Padres history to pitch a no-hitter on July 17th. Facing the San Francisco Giants, he did not allow his first hit until the 7th inning, but it was a three-run homer by Conor Gillaspie. He still emerged a 5-3 winner in his first start in a year and a half. Edwin went 5-6, 5.89 in 13 stats, giving him a combined record of 5-7, 5.89 on the year. In 84 innings, he struck out 64 but walked 41 batters. He started the 2017 season in the Baltimore Orioles organization after signing a minor league contract in early April. He was called up to the big club on June 7th and made a relief appearance that day, giving him a total of 12 clubs for which he had pitched. He had a 3.10 ERA in 12 games for the Norfolk Tides before his return to the Show. His stay with the Orioles was brief though - three relief appearances -and he was granted free agency on June 13th. He continued his peripatetic ways by signing for a second go-round with the Washington Nationals, which turned out to be a wise choice as we was called up to the big leagues again on July 18th when 5th starter Joe Ross was lost for the season to an injury. He went 5-6, 5.07 in 13 starts for the Nats.

He re-signed with the Nats for 2018, but was released on June 1st at his request after going a solid 4-2, 3.40 in 10 starts for Syracuse but not being called up. He signed with the Oakland Athletics, giving him a chance to make it back to the bigs with a 13th team, matching the all-time record, although in the immediate he was assigned to the AAA Nashville Sounds. He made it to lucky 13 on June 25th, allowing one run in six innings against the Tigers, but ending up with a no-decision as the A's eventually won the game, 5-4. Fellow pitcher Octavio Dotel was the only other player to toil for that many teams in his career. He went 6-3, 3.33 in 17 starts for the A's, pitching 92 innings as one of an unlikely group of starters who kept the rotation afloat during the second half as the team surged to a wild card berth. In 2019, he began the season in the minors for the A's but on May 11th his contract was purchased by the pitching-strapped Toronto Blue Jays, setting up a chance for him to break the record for the number of teams played for. When he started a game against the San Francisco Giants on May 15th, he became sole holder of the record, having now played for 14 teams. His tenure with the Jays was quite awful: when he was released on July 16th, he had the worst ERA of any pitcher in team history with 20 or more innings, at 11.12. On July 22nd, he signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers, a team he had played for previously, so there was no immediate prospect of his adding to his record of teams played for. He returned to the bigs on August 9th, but finished the season with an uninspiring line (9.58 ERA, 2.03 WHIP and a pitcher win-loss of 3-10).

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2009)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (2009 & 2010)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011

Further Reading[edit]

  • Nick Ashbourne: "No one pitched worse in a Blue Jays uniform than Edwin Jackson", Yahoo Canada Sports, July 16, 2019. [1]
  • Gregor Chisholm: "Jackson headed to Toronto, his record 14th team: Well-traveled veteran expected to join rotation next week", mlb.com, May 11, 2019. [2]

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