Tim Tebow was popular even as he struggled through his first season

Tim Tebow struggled on the field in his first season, but he was a popular player AP Photo/Sean Rayford

Tim Tebow’s first season in the minor leagues was impressive in regards to how he drew fans. Tebow made notable and quick impressions for both teams for which he played -- the Class-A Columbia Fireflies and St. Lucie Mets. And he fared well enough that he wants to continue his career next season if a team will have him.

Financial impact

Tebow’s biggest impact came in terms of attendance. St. Lucie broke its season record for total home attendance with a month remaining in the season. Columbia's average attendance increased by nearly 40 percent by the time of Tebow’s departure.

As Darren Rovell noted in this article early in the season, Tebow’s presence brought a significant attendance spike to road games as well.

The highlights

Tebow homered in his first and third games with the Fireflies, then homered in his St. Lucie debut. He totaled eight home runs for the season, five more than Michael Jordan hit in his Double-A stint in 1994 (a level up from what Tebow played). Jordan did steal more bases than Tebow, 30-2.

Stat breakdown

Tebow hit .231 with five home runs and 29 RBIs in 62 games for St. Lucie, the Mets High-A affiliate in the Florida State League. He fared about the same there as he did with the Columbia Fireflies in the lower-level South Atlantic League, where he hit .220 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 64 games.

Tebow’s .664 OPS in the Florida State League was 16 points below the league average. He ranked 12th among the 16 members of his team who had at least 100 at-bats.

Tebow was impactful early, particularly in his St. Lucie stint. Through his first 28 games with St. Lucie, he hit .315/.400/.522.

Then the league’s pitchers figured him out. Over his next 27 games, he hit .120 with 32 strikeouts in 100 at-bats. He did close the season strong, hitting .375 with nine hits in his final six games.

Tebow struggled against left-handed pitching, versus whom he hit .190/.299/.302. It’s one of several things he can look to build upon if he continues his career next season.