How Good Was Cardinals Star QB Kyler Murray as a Baseball Player?
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has become one of the league’s most explosive and popular players in his two seasons.
Murray is the game-changing quarterback that teams are always dreaming of drafting. It is clear that Murray, a talented gunslinger and dynamic runner, is the prototypical quarterback for where football is headed next.
Murray has long credited his one-time baseball career to some of his success on the gridiron. But just how good was Murray at baseball before he opted for a football journey with the Arizona Cardinals?
Kyler Murray is among the NFL’s best young quarterbacks
Kyler Murray has easily silenced the doubters who said he should have pursued a professional baseball career.
The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma, Murray has quickly turned into one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
Murray, 23, completed 68.1% of his passes in the Cardinals’ first eight games for 2,130 yards, 16 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year also ran for 543 yards and eight touchdowns on an NFL-best 7.1 yards per carry in those eight starts.
Murray is currently on pace to throw for 4,260 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions this year. He would also add 1,086 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.
No NFL quarterback has ever had over 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.
Murray was a football and baseball star
Kyler Murray famously opted for a professional football career instead of one in baseball.
The Oakland Athletics used a first-round pick on Murray in 2018. Although he entertained the idea of going to the minor leagues, Murray instead stuck with football.
When Murray originally signed with Oakland, he received a $4.6 million signing bonus. According to AL.com, Murray returned all of that money when he chose not to play baseball.
In a 2019 interview with ESPN, Murray explained how baseball prepared him for a career in the NFL. Murray specifically pointed out the benefits of using a baseball slide when running and leaving the pocket.
“I’ve seen a lot of terrible slides in my day. It’s a lot smoother than other people, you know, the pop-up slide, stuff like that, just being able to get down whenever I want. Yeah, I think it helps.”
Murray isn’t the only active NFL quarterback with a notable baseball background. The Colorado Rockies drafted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft when Wilson was still at N.C. State.
The New York Yankees acquired Wilson’s rights from the Texas Rangers in 2018. Wilson has attended spring training as a guest speaker in recent years.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the son of ex-Mets reliever Pat Mahomes. Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson briefly played minor league baseball in 2014.
How good was Kyler Murray as a baseball player?
The Oakland Athletics wouldn’t have used a first-round pick on Kyler Murray if he was a mediocre baseball player, right?
Murray hit .261 with 10 home runs, 53 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases in two seasons with the Sooners’ baseball teams. An outfielder who primarily saw action in left field, Murray also had 12 doubles and three triples.
However, Murray had his problems with strikeouts, and he struck out 56 times across 189 at-bats in 2018.
All in all, Murray was a fine college baseball player. How he would have fared upon transitioning to the minor leagues is another story, but Murray at least had speed and reached base in nearly 40% of his plate appearances.
It looks like Murray made the right choice picking football over baseball. Murray is a star in the NFL, and the Arizona Cardinals are prepared to make the postseason for the first time since 2015.
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