The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yahoo! Sports: Brown: Can Shohei Ohtani actually succeed as a two-way player?

Ohtani, of course, would appear to be special. He’s ridden the two-way thing into the hearts and minds of big-league franchises, which just last week were tasked with outlining their ideas for how they’d deploy Ohtani from their roster. Given Ohtani throws a 100-mph fastball and that his greater value would seem to be on the mound across 180-or-so innings, the challenge will come in the accumulation of at-bats. That is, where the at-bats will manifest themselves. As a designated hitter three or four times a week? As a semi-regular or platoon right fielder? As a starting pitcher who – gasp – runs the bases, bats with his pitching arm exposed, careens against outfield walls and possesses the time and energy required to acclimate himself to American cities, big-league pitchers and big-league hitters? Could he be great at both? Would the effort alone dilute it all, leaving him great at neither? Shouldn’t he try?

And what would that look like?

Well, no one seems to know for sure. For one, a major league hitter’s day looks pretty full. So does a major league pitcher’s.

--Posted at 9:53 am by SG / 51 Comments | - (0)


Page 1 of 1 pages:

Interesting question, and the elephant in the room—I think there’s a reason we don’t see two-way players these days, and the very few we do are marginal.  It takes a lot of effort to be very good at either pitching or hitting.  Ohtani could do it in a lesser league pitching once a week; is he the generational talent who can pull it off in MLB?  Or is the muddle of trying to accommodate his desires going to make him and his club worse?

I still think Gardner and Frazier for Stanton makes sense. The Marlins could turn around and trade Gardy or keep him to pretend to appease their fans.

Getting rid of Gardy’s millions should allow the Yankees to stay under the cap. If not, they could trade away Robertsoneven if they have to eat a little money.

It would mean no Sabathia probably but they would be stronger overall.

I still don’t understand why anyone would want Stanton.  He doesn’t have the pedigree of a Pujols or an A-Rod to be given that contract.  He has injury concerns and dips in production even when healthy.  Plus with the opt out you get all of the downside with a limited upside. 

I’d rather keep Gardner.  And that’s me saying that.

We have pitchers who hit in the NL when they start games.  Having a pitcher in the AL who could hit 2 or 3 games a week as a DH does not seem so incredibly outlandish.

[4] But they suck ass at hitting. Which NL pitcher could DH in the AL?

The bigger question is how do the team and Ohtani deal with it if in fact he is much more valuable as either a hitter or more likely a pitcher?

[1] I think there are a number of players likely talented enough to be two way players (not a ton). But, given the difficulty of developing a MLB level player (both for the player and teams) it makes sense to focus on the better set of tools to get them to the MLB ASAP.

Ohtani is a unicorn because there is little to no development to be done. Yes, he probably needs some tweaks as a hitter, but he’s essentially MLB ready. Teams aren’t sacrificing prime years trying to double dip during their development time.

I think the big question is not can Ohtani succeed, it’s what happens if/when he does? Do teams start trying to develop those truly exceptional 2-way players as two-way guys? Or does Ohtani not really change anything due to how unique he is?

If he’s not very good at one and good at the other, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was okay with being a one way player.

I think I speak for everyone on this.

[9] IIRC, he projects as an above average hitter.

Am I alone in thinking all of the speculation on this is kinda silly? We’ll find out in Spring Training if it looks like he can hack it. There will be contingencies in place for if he can hit and pitch; if he can pitch or hit only; if he can do both but suffers in quality in either arena as the season grinds on; or if he struggles, if it looks like it can be fixed by combinations of rest and adjustment.

It doesn’t seem like too big of an issue. Let him play around with it, but if he sucks vs. big-league arms, that’s that.

[11] It’s important right now because Ohtani wants to know how teams see him and plan to use him, potentially on both sides of the ball.

The assumption is that Ohtani wants to hit, so a team that doesn’t see him as a MLB hitter and isn’t planning on using him as a batter might be playing from behind in the game to lure him to their city.

[12] Even Otani has to know if he isn’t performing, he’s not going to keep getting run out there to flail away.

To underline how difficult it would be for Ohtani to be succesful at both:

The only comp for a two way player is Babe Ruth.  Ruth only had two seasons as a two way player before transitioning to being a full time outfielder.  In 1918 he put up 5.1 WAR as a hitter and 2.3 as a pitcher, in 1919 9.4 as a hitter and 0.8 as a pitcher.  In 1920 as a full time hitter he put up 11.8 WAR—he maxed out at 14.1 in 1923. (14.1!).  His best season as a full time pitcher was 1916 with 10.4 WAR (including his ABs).

Doing both didn’t really enhance Babe’s value to his teams. 

In an era that didn’t have specialized workout routines and significant time spent reviewing video, the best player in the game couldn’t really add any extra value both pitching and hitting.

13 Willie Smith 1964 Halos 373 PAs 125 OPS+ 31.2 IP 118 ERA+ most recent.

CC arguably could have been a 2-way player if he was um, slimmer. Actually, he could have played 1B while his knees remained intact.

I just looked at Wonderful Willie’s 1964 game logs.  He was a pitcher and occasional pinch hitter in May and the first half of June.  He was a full time outfielder after mid-June. 

Even going back 53 years, its hard to find someone who did what Ohtani wants to do.

Ohtani has done it the last few years.

Madison Bumgarner is a great hitter…for a pitcher.  *If* he spent all his time working on his stroke, maybe he’d be an above-average DH (or a field player).  I know there are pitchers who “pride themselves on their skill with the bat,” but how come they aren’t even better?  It’s because they have to spend so much time on the thing they do best—pitching.

Rick Ankiel was a pretty good hitter—when he focused on it.  He was a shitty hitter when he was a pitcher.

[11] Waitaminute, waitaminute.  If I understand you correctly, we’re just pointlessly speculating about something we know nothing about.

21 Like a bunch of mostly guys sitting around passing the pipe or as I call it the good old days.

I think most people recognize he can be an ace. I think the one question mark is his hitting. What’s the cutoff for making him a 1-way player?

Say he has a 100 wRC+ in 400PA. Do you say, let’s focus on the pitching or are you okay with that?

Or on the way slimmer chance he is a better hitter, what’s the cutoff for not having him pitch? 4+ FIP?

[14] Was Ruth injured in 1918? He didn’t play in very many games (looks like about 1/2 season of pitching) and only hit in 95 games overall, which would include the games he pitched. In 2/3-3/4 of a season he put up over 7 WAR.

[23]  Probably depends a little bit on the team around him, right?  If everyone is mashing, well, 100 wRC+ isn’t great for a DH but you can live with it.  (And didn’t the Yanks have below average production at DH last year?)  If his FIP isn’t great but you’ve got a great outfield, maybe you can live with that.

The Sox didn’t use Ruth as a full time pitcher in 1918.

per Wikipedia

Although Barrow predicted that Ruth would beg to return to pitching the first time he experienced a batting slump, that did not occur. Barrow used Ruth primarily as an outfielder in the war-shortened 1918 season. Ruth hit .300, with 11 home runs, enough to secure him a share of the major league home run title with Tillie Walker of the Philadelphia Athletics. He was still occasionally used as a pitcher, and had a 13–7 record with a 2.22 ERA.

[21] i would never insinuate.

I believe that Ruth contributed to the U.S. war effort by consuming vast quantities of frankfurters.

[25] I kind of take it the other way. If he is a bottom 3 hitter they might not want to risk injury, unless as a bottom 3 hitter he is still doing well.

Also, Marlins apparently mulling over Panik and 2 prospects for Stanton. Not sure of the money aspect, but surely the Yankees could offer Castro, an A prospect, and a B prospect and that would be better no? Don’t the Giants have a terrible system at the moment?

[29] The report that suggested Panik and two prospects said the Giants would fire $250m of the $295 Stanton is owed.

[29] I don’t think there is any chance the Yankees are in on Stanton. 1) Hal Cap and 2) Judge

Yeah, where do they play Stanton? LF? Isn’t he not great defensively? Then they have to move Gardner or Ellsbury, so Gardner has to go because no one is taking Smells, so Smells is getting a bunch of games when Hicks gets hurt again.

Then if Stanton is worth his contract he is opting out and is only hanging around if he is truly an albatross.

[5] Well, yes, there are many NL pitchers who appear to suck at hitting.  And there are a handful who appear to be competent, even some with a little power.  But you are forgetting that they only get a few ABs once or twice a week. 

I wonder how the “competent hitting” NL pitchers would do if they actually hit in 4 or 5 games a week, every week, and met with hitting coaches and other players regularly to go over scouting reports. I wonder what the hell got into Jake Arrieta a couple years ago when he hit an Ellsbury-like .262/.304/.415.  And then you have a guy like MadBum who, in almost 500 ABs has hit 17 HRs & driven in 54 runs.  Sure his slash line looks sad, but suppose he had been really dedicated to hitting just like any other offensive player and had been getting more than just 75 scattered PAs a year? (This is all hypothetical because I wouldn’t want these guys running around in the OF just so they could get more ABs - if there truly is a Ruthian talent in today’s game, it would make the most sense to pitch & DH him in the AL to avoid injury, as such a player would be far more valuable providing pitching and hitting, no need to try to wring out defensive value.) 

I would imagine that a handful of NL pitchers would compete pretty well with #8 or #9 hitters in the AL if they prepared and played like actual hitters.  And the Yankee DH spot has sucked for years, to address your other comment.

As far as the business of baseball goes, if Ohtani could somehow provide respectable hitting numbers and league average or slightly better pitching value, he would be an instant worldwide sensation and he would generate a nice uptick in revenue for his team and the sport in general.  Maybe there a few teams who would sacrifice getting a good DH to have a guy like Ohtani attracting all that money.

(31)  They could take on his entire salary and still be under the HalCap if they traded Gardner.

(32)  3/70 for Stanton is something worth trading for.  If he gets injured or sucks in his opt out year, and ends up staying, 8/225 isn’t crazy for the remainder of his deal (in the 2020s).  Obviously if he’s worth nothing, it’ll suck, but the chances of that seem low to me.

You guys.  Come on.  Frankfurters.  People pay money for that shit, I give it away free.

That’s revisionist history.

Everyone knows it was wieners.

I thought wieners was the catcher for the Nationals.

Keith Law says that the bat doesn’t play in MLB, but the dude has 80, 80! speed.

Speed being an important tool for a P/DH.

If he gets injured or sucks in his opt out year, and ends up staying, 8/225 isn’t crazy for the remainder of his deal (in the 2020s).  Obviously if he’s worth nothing, it’ll suck, but the chances of that seem low to me.

Through their age 27 seasons.

Stanton - 35.1 bWAR
Pujols - 54.7 bWAR
A-Rod - 63.5

Pujols from age 31 - 38 (only 7 years, his 38 year old season is coming up this year)- 18.2
A-Rod from age 31 - 38 - (again only 7 years since he was suspended for his 38 year old season) - 30.9.  Half of that was the 1st two years.

Both A-rod and Pujols would have opted out based on their performance through 30. 

I think you are really overestimating how good Stanton is and minimizing the downside of his contract. 2017 Stanton is more of the aberration in health and production than the norm.

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me how many people are discrediting Stanton. Dude is good, plain and simple. Is he Pujols or A-Rod in their prime? No, but then again, 99.99999999999999% of all-time players were not Pujols or A-Rod in their prime.

Maybe Stanton is overrated if you’re expecting 60 HR every season, but dude has 4 6+ fWAR/650 seasons by age 27! There’s a great shot he has 400+ HR by age 30!

I’m not necessarily saying the Yanks should pursue him or if he makes sense for the team. He does have an injury concern and can go in prolonged slumps. But let’s not act like he’s not one of the ten best hitters in the game today.

I will say though, if you think Stanton is likely to opt out in 3 years, I would deal for him. Or just sign Harper next year. That will be fun though. If people are trying to discredit Stanton, I can only imagine how people will try to justify not signing Harper.

EDIT: And yup. Since 2010 (Stanton rookie season), #11 in fWAR, #6 in wOBA

Many years ago, deep in in a underground bunker on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific, two scientists were talking about how their genetic modification experiment called “Mike Trout” represented the epitome of human baseball ability.

A third scientist overheard them and said, “Hold my beer, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Manager interviews are over:

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me how many people are discrediting Stanton. Dude is good, plain and simple. Is he Pujols or A-Rod in their prime? No, but then again, 99.99999999999999% of all-time players were not Pujols or A-Rod in their prime.

And 99.99999999999999% of all-time players don’t get mega contracts like that either.  So when mega contracts like that don’t turn out well even for players like A-Rod and Pujols, the it is a valid criticism to draw parallels to Stanton and those players.

dude has 4 6+ fWAR/650 seasons by age 27!

And using fWAR/650 glosses over one of the major criticism of him, his ability to stay healthy.  As I said in [3] “He has injury concerns and dips in production even when healthy.” which you seem to agree with too.

No one is saying he is a bad player, but unfortunately you can’t remove the reality of the contract and the opt out and when evaluating if you should trade for him.

“I think you are really overestimating how good Stanton is and minimizing the downside of his contract. 2017 Stanton is more of the aberration in health and production than the norm.”

I’m just talking about his production. I’m not sure Stanton makes sense for NY, whether it’s the contract, giving up pieces in a trade, or just signing a future HOFer next year in Harper.

But some comments here since the off-season started have painted Stanton as overrated. He is not. Plain and simple, he is a top 10 hitter in the sport. And you can argue top 10 player. The only concern with Stanton is the contract and health. Fair concerns, like you brought up. But Stanton the player is an MVP candidate in his prime.

Talking about the contract though, FG has interesting piece:

If you take his baseline, or even project him aging poorly, he’s going to be worth what he’s paid. They get more into his trade value for the team trading for him, but if you look at just his contract vs WAR value, it doesn’t seem like a sinkhole of a contract. Unless you are all-in on him being hurt most of the contract, or performing really, really poorly.

There’s a lot of noise out there right now about Ohtani preferring a team where he would be the only Japanese player/star. Not sure how reliable that is, but it might take the Yankees out of the running if true.

[45] I also think his injury issues are really overblown. Yes he’s missed a lot of time so far. But most of that has been due to bones broken by HBPs. Yeah, he’s had some soft tissue injuries, but by and large they have been minor and short term. Unless you think he has Nick Johnson disease, I just don’t see Stanton’s injury history as problematic or predictive.

46 It that’s true then he’s a pretty silly guy and would possible be a headache as a teammate.

[44] I’m sorry, the A-Rod contract didn’t work out? Even the extension was vasically fair value, and that was with all the injury issues. And his original mega-deal was basically a steal.

The Stanton contract is so much more reasonable than people seem to think. I’m not saying it has no risk, or that the Yankees shpuld want it, but he’s just not really overpaid.

Posting rules have been approved and announced by the MLB, the announcement also stated that Ohtani will be posted by EOD.

NYDN “Why Yankees will likely name Hensley Meulens or Aaron Boone manager next week…..Based on sourced information from how all the interviews went down, it appears Boone, Meulens and Beltran all made the strongest impressions on Cashman and his team of close advisers that included VP of Baseball Operations Tim Naehring, assistant GM Mike Fishman and Senior VP Jean Afterman who were part of the process. You probably have to eliminate Beltran if only because it is highly unlikely Cashman would turn the managerial reins over to someone fresh out of the player ranks”

Page 1 of 1 pages:

NY Post: Yankees don’t sound excited about these new MLB rules
(22 Comments - 2/20/2018 9:09:32 pm)

USA Today As Manny Machado begins final camp with Orioles, lucrative future - with Yankees? - awaits
(52 Comments - 2/20/2018 12:11:21 pm)

NY Post: Aaron Boone loves the World Series talk from confident Yankees
(63 Comments - 2/17/2018 6:37:53 pm)

Rosenthal: Sources say starting pitchers Jake Odorizzi, Collin McHugh could be dealt
(49 Comments - 2/13/2018 3:06:23 pm) The futures of Yankees’ top prospects | Beat reporters talk
(128 Comments - 2/11/2018 12:18:14 pm) Gamble, known for big hair, lefty power, dies
(109 Comments - 2/5/2018 12:25:19 pm)

NYDN: Yu Darvish still waiting to see if Yankees, Dodgers can clear enough salary: report
(54 Comments - 2/2/2018 8:25:16 pm) 1998 Yankees top list of 25 greatest teams
(63 Comments - 1/31/2018 6:41:24 pm) [Gleyber] Torres, Tatis Jr. lead Top 10 SS Prospects list
(44 Comments - 1/29/2018 4:52:11 pm) Yanks could still make big free-agent move
(33 Comments - 1/26/2018 1:25:27 pm)