Ankiel spent parts of 11 seasons in the majors, the overwhelming majority of which came with the Cardinals.
He initially broke into the league in 1999 as a starting pitcher. In 2000, he went 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA (134 ERA+) and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. Control problems eventually derailed his big-league career — at least as a pitcher.
Fast-forward to 2007, and Ankiel showed up as an outfielder with some pretty nice power. He’d homer 11 times in 172 at-bats that season. In 120 games the following season, Ankiel hit 25 homers.
Think about it: We’re talking about a guy who struck out 194 batters in a season as a pitcher and also has a 25-homer season as a position player. He also stole 10 bases in 2011 and could do this from the outfield:
Due to him not being one of the best in baseball at anything — at least anything other than having an unreal outfield arm — Ankiel probably has been a little underappreciated throughout his career in terms of having all-around baseball talent. Few in our society are able to even sniff professional baseball as either a pitcher or position player. Ankiel made it to The Show as both and had good success — even if short lived — as both.
Kudos to Ankiel on a remarkable career.