Shohei Ohtani was spotted gingerly tossing a ball the other day as he attempts a return from Tommy John surgery this year. He won’t return to the mound, however. This has many in the baseball world- and especially our own Lil’ Dogg- very upset. He’s worried we won’t have any fun
Well, Lil’ Dogg, what if I told you there was some fun to be had? That there was another budding two-way star? A player who, in 2018, had the same W-L record as the reigning AL ROY, while besting Ohtani in:
- Innings Pitched
- ERA/ ERA+
- Pitching WAR
- Batting Avergae
- Slugging %
This player is, the Cincinnati Reds’ Michael Lorenzen.
Lorenzen, a former top 100 prospect as a starting pitcher, was also an outfielder at Cal St Fullerton, where he managed a .324 career average, while pitching his way to being a 1st round pick. Fast forward 5 years, and he’s now worked himself into a very good MLB reliever (he also made 3 starts in 2018), but the Reds are interested in his other talents as well.
In 2018, Lorenzen hit .290 and led all MLB pitchers with 4 HR’s…in just 31 AB’s. The team started letting him “pinch hit for himself” in a sense, on six different occasions, he pinch hit and then came into the game to pitch. Not only fun, but very valuable, especially in the NL where benches get short real quick.
Yesterday, in a spring training, Lorenzen pitched a 1-2-3 inning, then moved to CF for two innings- which seems to be a preview of how the team intends to use him this year.
Now this is something I suggested as “FUN” when we were discussing Ohtani…a RP who can pinch hit, then come in to face some batters, then go play a position while the manager plays matchup games, and then comes back in to pitch to more batters. Maximizes matchups. Saves roster spots. He’s the Ultimate Weapon late in games. He’s a human double switch…nay, TRIPLE SWITCH.
There is also some buzz that he expands his pinch hitting role.
Obviously, this guy isn’t as good as Ohtani, either on the mound, or at the plate…but so far we have no evidence that a role like Ohtani was playing is even sustainable. Lorenzon’s role, it stands to reason, is far more realistic over the long haul. And, Lil’ Dogg….