The Next Babe?: Why is it that a pitcher can’t hit and a hitter can’t pitch in the “Big Leagues?”
Many years ago, a Major League skipper decided that the two can not coexist. About a hundred to be exact.
Babe Ruth was the last notable pitcher/hitter in the Majors. It was too good to be true. Ruth pitched in Boston. The Red Sox sold him to the Yankees, creating the “Curse of the Bambino.”
Ruth then focused on his hitting. Pitching became an afterthought. He went on to hit 714 home runs. No one can argue that Ruth was one of the greatest, but would he had been as good if had continued pitching?
Enter Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese sensation two weeks into his rookie season with the Los Angeles Angels. He pitches. He hits. He’s the first to do both since - Babe Ruth.
What Ohtani has done thus far may not hold up, but he has wowed baseball fans.
He hit three homers in three straight games. He picked up two wins in his first two starts with 18 strikeouts and only two walks. Not too shabby.
It might be rare to find hitter/pitchers past the prep level, but it has happened. Remember Tim Hudson, the former Auburn Tiger and major leaguer?
At Auburn, he hit .396 his senior season with 18 homers and 95 RBIs and won SEC Player of the Year honors. Hudson was a first-team SEC selection as a pitcher and outfielder.
There are pitchers that have hit the ball in the “Bigs.” Madison Bumgarner comes to mind. He still only bats because there is no designated hitter in the National League.
I remember the Braves pitchers; Glavine, Smoltz and company. They used to take BP. They took pride in their hitting.
Ohtani is privileged to play in the American. He can bat as the DH and not have to play a field position besides pitcher. Although I'm sure he could play another.
I hope we might see a transition in baseball thanks to Ohtani. He is fun to watch and is defying the logic that you can’t do both.
Kids coming up today can pitch and hit. Many are the very good doing both. Maybe there is hope that the next Shohei Ohtani is in the making.