Jeff Samardzija

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"Samardzija" redirects here. For the village in Bosnia and Herzegovina, see Samardžije.
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija on April 27, 2015.jpg
Samardzija with the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox – No. 29
Born: (1985-01-23) January 23, 1985 (age 30)
Merrillville, Indiana
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
July 25, 2008 for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
(through 2015 season)
Win–loss record 47-61
Earned run average 4.09
Strikeouts 901
WHIP 1.28
Career highlights and awards

Jeffrey Alan Samardzija (/səˈmɑrə/; born January 23, 1985), nicknamed The Shark, is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played college baseball and football for the University of Notre Dame, and was recognized as an All-American wide receiver. He has also played in MLB for the Chicago Cubs from 2008 to 2014 and the Oakland Athletics in 2014.

Early years[edit]

Jeff's father, Sam Samardzija, was a semi-professional hockey player, and his older brother, Sam Samardzija Jr., Jeff's current representation, was an All State football and baseball player who attended Indiana University and is now a sports agent in Major League Baseball.[1] When Samardzija was in high school his mother, Debora Samardzija, died of a fatal respiratory disease.[2]

Samardzija grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he attended Washington Township Elementary School and Valparaiso High School, and was a letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, he was a three-time first team All-State honoree, and was twice named the team's Most Valuable Player. After his junior year, he was invited to participate in the Indiana football All-Star game. In baseball, he was a first team All-State honoree. He graduated from Valparaiso High School in 2003.

College years[edit]

Samardzija accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 2003 to 2006, and the Fighting Irish baseball team from 2004 to 2006. He made his first impact at Notre Dame as a right-handed pitcher for the baseball team, finishing second in the Big East Conference in both earned run average (ERA) (2.95) and opponents' batting average (.209), and being named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine. He continued to play baseball at Notre Dame until he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 5th round (149th overall) of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.

In football, he was a reserve for his first two seasons, catching a total of 24 passes. He first started at the 2005 Insight Bowl at the end of his sophomore season. He emerged as a star in the 2005 season, ending the regular season with 77 catches - 15 of them for touchdowns - for 1215 yards and making numerous All-America Teams.

He set single-season school records in both receiving yardage and touchdown receptions. Samardzija caught a touchdown pass in each of Notre Dame's first eight games in 2006, giving him the school record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception. Samardzija made 78 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games in the 2006 season to finish as the all-time Fighting Irish leader in reception yards with 2,593.[3] He made the Football Writers Association of America All-America Team following the 2006 season.

Samardzija was selected as one of the three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, for the nation's top wide receiver in both 2005 and 2006. Although initially planning to play both in the NFL and MLB, Samardzija announced after being selected in the Major League Draft that he would take his name out of the NFL Draft and play baseball.

Professional career[edit]

Chicago Cubs[edit]

On January 19, 2007, Samardzija announced he would forgo the NFL Draft and commit to a baseball career. Samardzija signed a five-year deal to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs. The deal has a no-trade clause and a club option for a sixth and seventh year. If the club option is exercised, the total value of the deal would be $16.5 million.[4]

On June 23, 2008, Samardzija was promoted to Triple-A Iowa after posting a 3–5 record in Tennessee with a 4.86 ERA.[5] In his career in Triple-A Iowa, he has posted a 4–1 record and a 3.13 ERA, with 40 strikeouts and 16 walks.[6]

On July 25, 2008, Samardzija was called up to join the bullpen of the Chicago Cubs to replace Kerry Wood, who was placed on the DL.[7] He made his MLB debut the same day against the Florida Marlins, striking out the first batter he faced in the 7th inning. Chicago Cubs Manager Lou Piniella was impressed with Samardzija's major league debut, saying he may never see the minors again.[8] On July 27, 2008, Samardzija recorded his first career major league save against the Florida Marlins.[9]

In 2009, Samardzija was optioned to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs after failing to make the team out of spring training.[10] However, he was quickly called back up only a few games into the season.[11] He quickly returned to Des Moines to pitch for the Iowa Cubs, after posting an 8.10 ERA in 5 appearances. He made his first major league start on August 12 against Pedro Martinez of the Philadelphia Phillies, a 12–5 loss.

In March 2010 Samardzija returned to the Cubs and pitched his first game in exhibition on March 13, 2010.[12] He pitched in four regular season games in April and compiled an 18.90 ERA before being sent back down to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in order to make space for Ted Lilly on the Cubs roster.

In 2011, Samardzija made the opening day roster as a reliever.[13] During the 2011 season Samardzija, statistically had his best season posting an 8-4 record and an ERA of 2.97[14] In 2012 Jeff was named a pitcher in the Cubs rotation and was solid going 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA and 180 strikeouts.

Samardzija pitching for the Chicago Cubs in 2012 spring training

On March 3, 2013 Samardzija was named the opening day starter.[15] He threw his first major league shutout on May 27, 2013 against the Chicago White Sox, allowing two hits and two walks.[16]

He began 2014 as a hardluck pitcher. He set a major league record for lowest ERA (1.46) by a winless pitcher through his first 10 starts. The 1.46 ERA was the latest league-leading ERA by a winless pitcher since Bruce Sutter's 0.89 ERA on June 7, 1977.[17] Samardzija won his eleventh start of the season by striking out a season-high 10 San Francisco Giants.[18] On June 18, 2014, the Cubs offered Samardzija a five-year, $85 million deal which he rejected.[19]

On July 6, 2014, he was revealed as a National League All-Star, but was not eligible to play because he was traded to an American League team.[20]

Oakland Athletics[edit]

On July 5, 2014, Samardzija, along with Jason Hammel, was traded to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for top shortstop Addison Russell, pitcher Dan Straily, outfielder Billy McKinney, and a player to be named later.[21] In his debut on July 6, he went seven innings with five strikeouts, allowing one run and four hits.[22]

Chicago White Sox[edit]

On December 9, 2014 the Athletics traded Samardzija along with Michael Ynoa to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Rangel Ravelo and Josh Phegley.[23] Samardzija and the White Sox on January 16th, 2015 agreed to a one-year deal for $9.8 million avoiding arbitration.[24]

Samardzija made his first start for the White Sox on April 6, 2015 during opening day against the Kansas City Royals. He allowed 5 runs including a home run by Alex Rios in 6 innings as the White Sox lost to the Royals, 10–1.[25] During another game against the Royals on April 23, Samardzija was one of five players to be ejected for his role in a bench-clearing brawl.[26] On April 25, Samardzija was suspended 5 games.[27] On July 9, 2015, he pitched a complete game shutout and allowed only four hits in a 2–0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at US Cellular Field. This was his first complete game shutout victory for the White Sox and the second of his major league career.[28][29] On September 21 Samardzija pitched a complete-game one-hit shutout against the Detroit Tigers on only 88 pitches; the only baserunner was Victor Martinez, who singled to lead off the fifth inning, and no batter's count went to three balls.

Pitching style[edit]

Samardzija has thrown as many as seven types of pitches in his career, but as of 2012, he uses five. They are as follows: a four-seam fastball (93–97 mph), two-seam fastball (92–96), cutter (91–93), slider (84–86), and splitter (85–87). He is comfortable throwing all of his pitches to right-handed hitters, but he tends not to throw the cutter to left-handed hitters. Against both right-handed and left-handed hitters, the splitter is by a wide margin his most commonly thrown pitch in 2-strike counts.[30][31]


Samardzija is of Serbian heritage.[32] His Serbian grandparents emigrated from Europe in the 1940s.[33] Several of Samardzija's Notre Dame baseball teammates nicknamed him "Shark" during his career at Notre Dame.[34]


  1. ^ Katie Stuhldreher (October 20, 2006). "Man for All Seasons". University of Notre Dame Official Athletic Site. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Debora S. Samardzija dies at 46". Chesterton Tribune. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Samardzija chooses MLB over NFL". BBC News. January 20, 2007. Archived from the original on January 26, 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Cubs sign Samardzija to five-year, $10 million deal". MLB/ESPN. January 21, 2007. Archived from the original on January 26, 2007. 
  5. ^ Carrie Muskat (June 23, 2008). "Samardzija promoted; Hill, Pie, to Mesa". Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Jeff Samardzija AAA Iowa stats". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Cubs recall right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija" (Press release). Archived from the original on August 9, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  8. ^ Van Dyck, Dave,Samardzija shows staying power, Chicago Tribune, Retrieved on July 27, 2008
  9. ^ Ginnetti, Tony,Samardzija comes up big as Cubs sit alone in first, Chicago Sun-Times, Retrieved on July 28, 2008
  10. ^ "Cubs Release Gaudin". Sports Illustrated. CNN. April 5, 2009. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2009. 
  11. ^ Carrie Muskat (April 22, 2009). "Cubs tab Samardzija to bolster 'pen". Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  12. ^ Scott Merkin (March 13, 2010). "Samardzija feels good after first start". Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2010. 
  13. ^ Active Roster | Team
  14. ^ Jeff Samardzija Stats, News, Pictures, Bio, Videos - Chicago Cubs - ESPN
  15. ^ "3/3 Samardzija gets Opening Day start". Muskat Ramblings. Archived from the original on October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  16. ^ Mitchell, Fred (May 27, 2013). "Cubs get complete game in 7-0 rout of Sox". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 29, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  17. ^ Center, Bill and Adam Berry (May 22, 2014). "Samardzija's tough luck reaching historic levels". Archived from the original on September 24, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Jeff Samardzija strikes out a season-high 10 for first win since Aug.". ESPN. May 26, 2014. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  19. ^ "MLB Rumors: Jeff Samardzija Rejects Cubs Extension; Still Yankees Trade Option". Archived from the original on December 29, 2014. 
  20. ^ Blum, Ronald (July 6, 2014). "Trade Costs Samardzija Chance for All-Star Outing". AP. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Cubs trade Jeff Samardzija to A's". Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Ex-Cub Samardzija wins his debut with A's". Chicago Tribune. Sports XChange. July 6, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  23. ^ Scott Merkin (December 9, 2014). "White Sox acquire Shark in six-player deal". Archived from the original on December 14, 2014. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Samardzija, Flowers reach one-year deals". ESPN. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Zurga, Ed. "Samardzija crunched up by Royals on opening day.". CBS Local Chicago. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  26. ^ Burke, Timothy. "Five ejected in brawl at Chicago.". Deadspin. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  27. ^ "6 players suspended after brawl. Samardzija suspended 5 games.". Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  28. ^ Merkin, Scott; Chisholm, Gregor (July 9, 2015). "Red-hot Shark goes distance, shuts out Jays". Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  29. ^ Kane, Colleen (July 9, 2015). "Thursday's recap: White Sox 2, Blue Jays 0". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  30. ^ "FanGraphs Jeff Samardzija Pitch FX". Fangraphs. Archived from the original on March 28, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Brooks Baseball · Home of the PitchFX Tool - Player Card: Jeff Samardzija". Brooks Baseball. Archived from the original on December 28, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Chicago Cubs honor Valpo's Jeff Samardzija with bobblehead". N.W. Times. March 25, 2012. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  33. ^ "ASAP Sports Transcripts - Football - 2005 - PRESS CONFERENCES - UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE - October 11". Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  34. ^ School, Michael (20 October 2005). "Getting To Know... Jeff Samardzija". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 

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