The Astros got the full Shohei Ohtani experience Wednesday night. He walked and scored leading off the first then doubled in two runs when he came up again. Then he went to the mound and threw five perfect innings, leaving after 6 innings of one-hit ball with 12 strikeouts.
National headlines, again, for Ohtani, last year's American League MVP. The comparisons to Babe Ruth quivered across the media and burned up Twitter. Ruth was the best left-handed starting pitcher in the American League before he moved to the field full-time and became, well, Ruthian. A few more astute baseball writers compared Ohtani with the great Negro League two-way players Ted Radcliffe, Bullet Joe Rogan, Leon Day, and Martin Dihigo.
Just over 23,000 men have played in the MLB and Negro Leagues over the 146 years professional baseball has been around. Less than a dozen of them were two-way players. Does that mean that over all those decades no one else was capable of pulling it off? Of course not – recently departed Astro pitcher Zack Greinke, on course for the Hall of Fame, was an excellent hitter and won multiple Gold Gloves (should he have been pulled from Game 4 while throwing BBs at the Braves? Discuss).
Every year we hear about the great college pitcher-shortstop-outfielder drafted in the first round. But that’s it, he’s quickly made a full-time pitcher or infielder or . . .
Why is that?