Kyler Murray is dominating on the gridiron, but it won't be long before he focuses his prodigious talents on the baseball field.The dual-threat University of Oklahoma quarterback has used his arm and his legs to lead the 11-1 Sooners to Saturday's Big 12 championship game against Texas. Murray also has
Kyler Murray is dominating on the gridiron, but it won't be long before he focuses his prodigious talents on the baseball field.
The dual-threat University of Oklahoma quarterback has used his arm and his legs to lead the 11-1 Sooners to Saturday's Big 12 championship game against Texas. Murray also has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy, although that apparently hasn't changed his intentions to trade football for baseball.
Drafted ninth overall by the A's last summer, Murray agreed to a deal with Oakland that allowed him to return to Oklahoma for his junior season before hanging up his pads. Murray recently confirmed those plans, despite his rising stock as a signal-caller.
• Heisman contender still picking A's over NFL
So as Murray prepares to switch sports, how can we find an MLB equivalent to the success he's enjoying in his current role?
That's no easy task, given the obvious differences between a quarterback and any player in baseball, where starting pitchers play once every five days, and position players have a limited ability to affect each game. But since Oakland's No. 4 prospect is a center fielder in baseball, we'll stick to position players.
As we try to find historical comps for Murray, here is a look at where he ranks this season, through last weekend's games, among NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) quarterbacks in eight key categories. A rough baseball "equivalent" is listed for each stat.
• 70.6% Completion rate (tied for third) -- batting average
• 206.8 Passer efficiency (second) -- on-base percentage
• 12.0 Yards per attempt (first) -- slugging percentage
• 37 Touchdown passes (tied for second) -- home runs
• 3,674 Passing yards (seventh) -- total bases
• 853 Rushing yards (fifth) -- stolen bases
• 7.5 Yards per rush (first) -- stolen-base success rate
• 288 Points* (second) -- Wins Above Replacement
*Includes points from both passing and rushing touchdowns
Baseball-Reference version, for position players only
The next step is to look for seasons in which a position player placed (like Murray) in the top 10 in his league (American or National League) in all eight categories. Throughout baseball history, that has been a difficult task, to say the least.
Here are seven notable examples, each of them an outfielder like Murray:
2018: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
Stats (AL rank): .346 BA (1st), .438 OBP (2nd), .640 SLG (1st), 32 HR (T-9th), 333 TB (3rd), 30 SB (T-5th), 83.3 SB% (T-8th), 10.9 WAR (1st)
Murray, listed at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, doesn't have prototypical size but is a spectacular athlete. The same could be said about Betts (5-foot-9, 180 pounds), whose exploits in right field earned him AL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards, as well as this year's AL Most Valuable Player Award for the World Series champion Sox. Betts and Cleveland's Jose Ramirez posted MLB's first 30-30 seasons since 2012.
2018: Michael Trout, Angels
Stats (AL rank): .312 BA (4th), .460 OBP (1st), .628 SLG (3rd), 39 HR (T-4th), 296 TB (10th), 24 SB (9th), 92.3 SB% (2nd), 10.2 WAR (2nd)
Firmly established as the top player in baseball, Trout was the runner-up to Betts in the AL MVP race this year. That marked the seventh time in his seven full seasons that Trout placed in the top five, including two wins and four second-place finishes. At age 27, he already ranks fourth among active position players in career WAR (64.3).
1997: Larry Walker, Rockies
Stats (NL rank): .366 BA (2nd), .452 OBP (1st), .720 SLG (1st), 49 HR (1st), 409 TB (1st), 33 SB (T-7th), 80.5 SB% (9th), 9.8 WAR (1st)
No doubt Coors Field helped boost Walker's stats, but it's well worth remembering that he produced an almost identical OPS on the road, where he also launched 29 of his 49 homers. Walker was the NL MVP in 1997, winning one of his seven Gold Glove Awards while ranking third among NL right fielders with 12 assists.
1992: Barry Bonds, Pirates
Stats (NL rank): .311 BA (7th), .456 OBP (1st), .624 SLG (1st), 34 HR (2nd), 295 TB (T-5th), 39 SB (9th), 83.0 SB% (9th), 9.0 WAR (1st)
In his age-27 season, Bonds captured his second NL MVP Award as he wrapped up his tenure in Pittsburgh before signing with the Giants as a free agent. Bonds also led the NL in walks and runs scored, while coming up a little shy of the 40-40 season he would eventually produce in 1996.
1990: Rickey Henderson, A's
Stats (AL rank): .325 BA (2nd), .439 OBP (1st), .577 SLG (2nd), 28 HR (T-6th), 282 TB (6th), 65 SB (1st), 86.7 SB% (4th), 9.9 WAR (1st)
Henderson won his 10th stolen-base title in 11 years to bring his career total to 936 at the age of 31. The following May, he broke Lou Brock's all-time record. But the 1990 AL MVP was much more than some speedy, one-dimensional, slap-hitting leadoff man. His 28 homers tied a career high he set in '86.
1963: Hank Aaron, Braves
Stats (NL rank): .319 BA (T-3rd), .391 OBP (2nd), .586 SLG (1st), 44 HR (1st), 370 TB (1st), 31 SB (2nd), 86.1 SB% (2nd), 9.1 WAR (2nd)
When you think of Aaron, you think of his Major League-record 755 home runs. But Hammerin' Hank also stole 240 bases, with his 1963 total representing a career high. Aaron also led the NL in runs (121) and RBIs (130), while reaching 30 homers for the seventh of 15 times. That total is tied with Alex Rodriguez for the most all-time.
1957: Willie Mays, Giants
Stats (NL rank): .333 BA (2nd), .407 OBP (2nd), .626 SLG (1st), 35 HR (4th), 366 TB (2nd), 38 SB (1st), 66.7 SB% (5th), 8.3 WAR (1st)
In the last season before the Giants moved to San Francisco, Mays gave the New York fans a nice memento. The 26-year-old captured the first of 12 NL Gold Glove Awards and went 30-30 for the second consecutive year, after that feat had been accomplished only one previous time in baseball history. In another sign of Mays' tremendous athleticism, he also led the league with 20 triples.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.