Japanese Babe Ruth? Yeah, no.

Baseball is my favorite sport. Never-ending supply of topics to cover. And the best part of baseball is Hot Stove Season. GM meetings. Winter meetings. Will they, won’t they? It’s a soap opera for dudes. Clearly we need someone to cover the offseason for Hi-Top …and since there aren’t many of us (YET), your man Le Cap will step out of the executive cubicle and do it myself.

First topic: “Japanese Babe Ruth” Shohei Ohtani. Hardcore seamheads have known about this cat for a while now, while casual fans and local talk radio hosts seem to have just heard about him. Let me learn you something. At just 23 years old he is among the best pitchers and hitters in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. Now, he is potentially going to be available to MLB teams, and the talk is, he wants to play 2 ways.


OK, yeah, that would be great. Exciting. Awesome. Problem is, it’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN! Oh, he could try it. He’s just never going to be able to be good at both.

Here’s a link to an excellent ESPN piece describing in detail why this probably won’t happen, using statistics, facts and logical arguments.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll go to my arguments, based on opinion and wild conjecture.

The template for this experiment is basically Babe Ruth 100 years ago, and that’s all. Thing is, Ruth only did it for A YEAR AND A HALF. That’s it. He only played the field between starts during 1918 and 1919. Those two seasons were his worst as a pitcher, and got worse the more he played the field. After that, he never pitched more than 9 innings in a season.

Back then, competition was far worse. It was white guys only. They all drove milk trucks in the off-season. Pitchers used those stupid old-timey windups, and didn’t throw with max effort. League average K/9 was less than half of what it is now. Offensively, Ruth himself led the league in home runs as a hitter both years, with 11 and 29, respectively. Baseball sucked compared to now.

Another thing to consider, everyone in MLB was the best P & C & SS & CF growing up, and many are drafted as 2-way players. But they don’t last. Why? Because it’s friggin hard. They are both full time jobs. If you want Ohtani to be a .240 hitter and a 4.50 ERA guy, sure, maybe he can pull that off…until his arm falls off.

Obviously, I’m a forward thinker #forwardcapforward and I love wacky baseball ideas, but the way I look at this you have two choices if you want any hope at this happening.

Plan 1: Ohtani is a full time Starting pitcher, and a couple of days a week he can pinch hit.

Plan 2: Ohtani is full time hitter, and a has 1-2 stints a week as a strategically deployed reliever, and can shift to a position in the field when a tough lefty comes up and you want a specialist for one batter.

I don’t see any way that the full time Two-Way scenario works. Though it’d be a lot cooler if it did.

Oh, and from now on, I only want to hear one thing from the talk radio hosts on this topic… “You’re right, Mike!”.


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