Tim Tebow continues to prove his doubters wrong every time he steps into the batter’s box or trots to the outfield.
Tebow has made news all summer during his first full season as a professional baseball player in the New York Mets organization. The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who helped the Florida Gators to not one but two national championships has had his moments and shown flashes.
Most recently, he was promoted to the Mets’ high Class A affiliate, the St. Lucie (Fla.) Mets, on June 25. He belted out a home run on his first day with the club — just like he did in his minor-league debut three months ago in Columbia, S.C.
And now, almost out of nowhere, Tebow is hitting .325 over his 13 games with St. Lucie and is currently riding an eight-game hit streak. Crowds flock to see the superstar revered as one of the best college football players of all time.
All of this begs the hypothetical question: Would Tim Tebow have been good enough to start for Florida’s national title-winning baseball team last season?
Logically, the answer is yes for two reasons in addition to sellout crowds at McKethan Stadium.
The first one is obvious: He hits for power. That’s a trait that Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan — and just about every other college baseball coach — yearns to have on his roster every year.
The second: The offense as a whole was erratic all season and, until the back half of the season, no starting spot was set in stone.
Let’s flash back to January, a month before the start of the season when O’Sullivan was still figuring out how his lineups were going to work. He only had two outfielders penciled in as guaranteed starters, Austin Langworthy and Nelson Maldonado.
Tebow would have been in contention for that third outfielder spot along with Blake Reese and Ryan Larson. Reese was a high school shortstop converted to an outfielder whose primary role was as a pinch-runner. Larson was a spot-starter during his first three seasons and was primarily used as a defensive substitute in the corner outfield spots.
Of course, Larson went on to have a breakout year as a senior, but no one predicted that would happen before the season began. Add in the broken hamate bone Langworthy suffered midway through the season, and another opportunity arises.
Even if Tebow didn’t end up playing in the field, his power alone would have put him into consideration to get the occasional start at designated hitter.
Plus, with the way O’Sullivan tinkered with his lineups during the first month of the season — 20 variations in the field in the first 23 games — Tebow likely would have found his way into the lineup at multiple points early in the year. The rest would have played itself out from there.
Back in reality, though, Gator fans, Tebow fans and New York Mets fans will simply have to enjoy Tebow’s hot streak in the minor leagues.
Who knows? If Tebow keeps up his recent production, another promotion might not be out of the question. In case you were wondering, the Mets’ Double-A affiliate is in Binghamton, N.Y., but has a great nickname, the Rumble Ponies.