Why is Babe Ruth the Last Good Two Way Player?
Babe Ruth came into the league as a pitcher. He had to prove that he was a good hitter before they put him out there. Obviously it was the right decision, but he was in a different era then Ohtani. First of all, Ruth only played 151 game seasons. Ohtani will be
Shohei Otani is Legit
Before I get started, I want to say that Shohei Otani is an absolute monster. To be able to get to this level in the first place is incredible. I watched him pitch against a series of the world’s best hitters in 2015 when Japan played against the MLB all stars. I don’t fully remember, but I know he racked up more than 7 K’s in less than 7 innings or less of work and did not give up a run. I know he has what it takes to not only pitch, but be an all star pitcher his first year in the league.
Just like everyone else, I have seen Otani’s highlight tape of him hitting and all I really got from it is that he has tremendous pop to the opposite field. I can only judge him based off his stats and his swing. His stats speak for itself and his swing looks smooth. He does a great job being direct to the ball and loves putting it over the shortstop’s head. On top of that, a lot of people don’t know that he’s got Mike Trout speed. He will be incredible to watch
The rest of the article is about the reason he needs to EXCEL to stay a two way. The game just doesn’t need them anymore, but obviously, if he shoves and rakes… Why not?
Why There aren’t Two Ways Today Explained
The biggest reason there aren’t two ways in the game today is because hitting or pitching, by themselves, are extremely difficult at the major league level. So more times than not, players pick one and get really good at it… If Otani fails at being a two way, it is not for a lack of skill.
I’ve compiled a shortlist to break down the difficulties of playing major league baseball on both sides of the field.
- He Needs to Do Well At Both – Unless he excels at both pitching and hitting, they don’t need him to. He only needs to excel at either hitting or pitching to help the team win in the league today. They have the roster space to find someone who can focus on either pitching or hitting to replace his role. By doing both Otani will only make it harder for himself and by taking one of his jobs away he would be able to focus on the other. In order to keep his two way role, I’d say he needs to keep his ERA under around a 3.50 and he needs to keep his OPS above .750. Otherwise, teams will tell him to pick one. It’s just like any regular player. If they don’t do well, they get cut. Only Otani wouldn’t be cut, he would be asked to choose one, and they would probably tell him he’s better off pitching.
- They Have the Roster Space – Back when Babe Ruth played, they had 25 spots. Just like today right? No. Back then, anyone that was ever on the roster was on the roster for the whole season. There was no DL and there was no calling people up mid season. So the two way was an incredible asset to have – someone who could fill two roles and take only one roster spot. Today, it’s not even nearly the same. You can send a player to the DL and have him replaced within the week. You can send guys down and bring them up. On top of that, when Sept. 1 rolls around, you get to have 40 people on your roster. On a 40 man squad, you don’t need the two way, you just need everyone to play their absolute best.
- Wear and Tear on the Body – Pitchers today get five days between starts. That’s five days of doing nothing but getting ready for their next start. Otani wouldn’t get that time. I play at the Division 1 level, and we have a player who was one of our best pitchers and hitters. We play a 60 game season, and I have never seen someone so physically and mentally exhausted at the end of a season. I can only imagine what almost three times that, with far fewer days off would do to somebody. On the day after he pitches, I would hope he would have it off, but if not, he would be playing in the DH role for sure. Last year Albert Pujols filled the DH role for most of the year, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.