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The youngsters at The Economist, who have long had a childish weakness for silly punning in their titles, have recently succumbed to another tendency of callow journalists: a tendency to exaggerate. In this issue alone we are told that the Trump administration "has enraged flyers across America"; that a single choice now "could save South Africa or wreck it"; that the latest Star Wars movie "tears down and rebuilds the Star War legacy"; and that a Japanese baseball player who may be able to do what Babe Ruth did "is set to transform baseball". No, he isn't. Babe Ruth himself didn't transform baseball. The only player about whom this may justifiably be said was Jackie Robinson, who suffered many indignities to open the Majors to talented black players and enabled great ones like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays to thrill baseball fans for decades.
Jackie Robinson transformed America and baseball socially. Babe Ruth changed the way that baseball was played. Prior to him it was a hit it where they ain't league, home runs were rare and usually of the in the park variety. His first full year he hit more homers than any other team in the American League. Ruth had the record for most home runs by his 3rd season as a full time player. By the end of the decade power hitting had taken over baseball. So to say that Ruth did not transform baseball is incorrect. To say this player will transform baseball is an exaggeration. The odds that teams will find a player that is such a talent they would take a chance on having them play in the field or even DH on days they don't pitch is next to nothing.
Way back when there used to be four man rotations as there was a lack of proficient pitchers. Teams would rarely go to their bullpen as they wanted to have their best pitcher out there. In the 30s it wasn't uncommon for the ace pitcher to come out of the pen to save the game, pitchers like Dizzy Dean and Lefty Grove. Starting pitchers used to throw 300 innings, now its more common to throw less than 200. A fresh arm was not always the best answer as pitchers are more consistent with steady work and bullpen arms get fatigued running out there on a daily basis. Now we have 8 man bullpens when there used to be five and six man rotations where there used to be four. Clubs are looking for pitchers that throw harder which leads to stints on the DL and bullpen arms being overtaxed.
The first time our Japanese trailblazer gets hurt running the bases the experiment will be over. There's a reason pitchers don't play everyday. They're too valuable.
The ultimate solution is to redesign the anatomies of our elbows and shoulders (etc) to handle the jobs we place upon them in many sports…, which we can look forward to in a hundred years or longer, probably much longer.
Currently, as here in Baseh Ballah, we hire our best young athletes to progressively injure themselves for their team’s economic benefits and fan’s joys. That sounds like the trench warfare of WWI in which soldiers were often ordered to walk-squat-run-jump-crawl-etc-march in dutiful lockstep into a no man’s land of enfilading, interlocking, and crosshatching multiple machine gun fire.
But, BUT, (!) we are slowly figuring things out & learning…
Chess or Go anyone?
Yeah, its nothing like trench warfare. These poor boys make a minimum of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and some over $20 million.
Something doesn't make sense to me. If a pitcher sits out 4 games out of 5, does that mean in the world series playoffs and finals (and I deliberately use lowercase becuase it's not really a world series, just an American one) the pitchers play 1 or 2 games out of 7 in each round?
It does. Back in the good old days they would throw three times, which is nearly enough to win it all by themselves.
He may certainly added more fire power to the angles.
The best bet would seem to be to have him DH on the days that he is not pitching. The advantage of the DH position being that he has occasion to throw the ball -- thus providing more rest for his pitching arm.
Ohtani chose a team that was mediocore despite having the former greatest player in the game (Pujols), the current greatest player in the game (Trout), and one of the game's best shortstops.
Their pitching was lousy, and their left fielder and right fielder would be back-ups on most teams. Ohtani could play either one of those once a week, and sub in for Pujols. Plenty of places for him to play.
A team that is already doing well has little incentive to take a chance on an experiment with something different.
The return from using a pitcher as a regular batter is equal to the difference between him and the batter he displaces. Being a merely good hitter would be useless; he needs to be meaningfully better than someone in the lineup. As the article says, he must also either field or take a DH slot. If he fields, errors may offset his extra offense (and add injury risk). If he's the DH, he'll be displacing a very good hitter, which shrinks the net benefit.
To be useful in the AL, it seems like a player like this would need to be both a good pitcher and an exceptional hitter (to offset injury and other risks). Playing with a DH also gives up the most obvious benefit. In the NL, he'd be replacing a terrible hitter (i.e., another pitcher) in 1/5 of games, which could be more useful than replacing a good one every day. (Of course, then strong hitting is actually most valuable in a less-than-dominant pitcher, because it'll tilt otherwise balanced games his way. If he'd win almost all of them regardless, his hitting would be wasted.)
Anyway, it's understandable that teams are keen to force players to choose a role. Maybe part of the Angels' appeal was that they promised not to. (The article's existence, of course, also points to what may be one of the biggest real benefits: the publicity.)
"No major leaguer has both pitched and hit since Babe Ruth." Actually, pitchers playing for teams in the National League go to bat regularly - and some of them do in fact get hits.
True but even the best are not as proficient as the lightest hitting everyday player. Some pitchers remembered for being a good hitter hit about .215. The best hitting pitcher ever was probably Rick Ferrell who would not be able to replace a proficient DH or field a position as well as someone who spent years training to do so.