Jon Singleton Is Back In Baseball | MLBbro Was Victim Of Outdated, Miseducated Hype About Marijuana As A Hard Drug
On Saturday, after eight years away from the big leagues, Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman Jonathan Singleton got the call that he was waiting for. Not only would Singleton be joining the Brewers’ big league roster in Cincinnati, Ohio, he would be starting and batting sixth.
Jon Singleton has recorded his first hit in the major leagues since 2015. He dealt with numerous marijuana suspensions and is making his return to MLB today pic.twitter.com/pyukbVA2Ae
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 3, 2023
Singleton went 1-for-4 with a run scored, helping Milwaukee secure a 10-8 victory over the Reds. He spoke before the game about his journey back to The Bigs.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Singleton. “Right now, I really can’t even describe my emotions, my feelings. Definitely grateful. Once I had to step away and consider what life really was and what it meant to me, it helped maybe put things in perspective.”
Weed Is An Expensive Habit
Jonathan Singleton was suspended a total 200 games between 2012 and 2018 for a positive marijuana test, including the 100-game ban in 2018 that saw him released from the league completely. Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, marijuana was grouped with several other hard narcotics and considered a “drug of abuse”, which triggered harsh suspensions.
While his hiatus from the game was certainly self-induced, current legislation around the nation, and within Major League Baseball itself, make his punishment look silly under the current lens. With a new perspective on the opportunity he now has, Singleton is open about his road back.
“It’s definitely rewarding,” he said. “There’s been a lot of hard work that I’ve put in. There’s been a lot of things I’ve done emotionally, physically and spiritually to get to this point. Very, very grateful.”
But before continuing, let’s take a deep dive into Singleton’s journey.
Selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth round of the 2009 Amateur Draft, the California native was one of the top prospects in the draft. Here’s a snippet of what the noted talent evaluators at Perfect Game had to say about a 17-year-old Singleton.
“Jonathan is a very strong, well built left-handed hitter with big time power. He has lift in his swing and the ball fits off his bat like a rocket. He has easy power now, but he is also a very good all around hitter with a good approach at the plate.”
With the Phillies still in win-now mode, Jon was eventually acquired by the Houston Astros in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal. Singleton, who ranked as high as 38th on some Top 100 Prospects list, had the opportunity to become a key piece in the Astros’ rebuild.
In 2012, Singleton tested positive twice for marijuana use and received two 50-game suspensions. Despite the suspensions, the Astros doubled down on their commitment and signed him to a five-year extension worth $10 million in June of 2014.
Now considered by many to be the top first base prospect in baseball, Singleton was ready to be as honest then as he is now.
“At this point, it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict,” he told The Associated Press in 2014. “I don’t openly tell everyone that but it’s pretty apparent to myself. I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”
Struggles Lead to More Troubles
Once given the opportunity to prove himself on the big stage, Singleton struggled. He slashed 168/.285/.335 in 2014 and would only appear in 19 games during the 2015 season before finding himself back in the minors.
While still attempting to rebuild his reputation and make it back to the majors, Singleton was hit with a 100-game ban for a third failed drug test. The suspension wiped out his 2018 season and Jon would find himself out of the league completely when the Astros released him May 21, 2018. While he was out of baseball, there were major changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that in hindsight would have significantly changed the trajectory of his career.
New Opportunities, New CBA Rules
Under the new CBA, baseball treats marijuana related offenses in the same manner they treat an alcohol related offense. Under these rules, Singleton would not have faced the three suspensions which were on par with that of a steroid user.
Noted baseball journalist Clinton Yates made an excellent point regarding Major League Baseball and their updated drug policy in a 2019 Andscape article.
“Major League Baseball is finally stepping into the modern world by updating the drug policies to be more sensible regarding the rest of America. We’re well beyond the caveman controversy of steroids – we’re talking about things that are not designed to necessarily enhance performance in the same way and are definitely extremely dangerous.”
Three years later, Singleton wound up in Mexico once again attempting to play the game he loves. He hit .321 with 15 homers, 36 RBI, 37 runs, 51 walks and a 1.196 OPS in 46 games in the Mexican league before signing a minor league deal with the Brewers.
After hitting 30 home runs and flashing an .838 OPS over two seasons in Triple A, Singleton was once again on a Major League roster. His hard work has paid off. “It was something that came so unexpectedly at the moment,” he said. “It was definitely a long time coming.”
Hopefully the archaic views that baseball once held on marijuana use won’t ever hinder this incredible talent again. The Brewers can use a guy with some pop and Singleton certainly has that. Seems pretty silly now that he lost his career over something that the government and most law enforcement are more educated about and realize it’s more of a benefit than a detriment to society. Singleton is looking ahead to the possibilities. He’s just 32 years old so these would be his peak years if his journey was derailed, so it’s up to him to make the most of this second chance.