A trend has begun to take shape in Major League Baseball. The movement of the 2-Way Player is taking over MLB. And with the news of several players attempting to become 2-Way players season. We will take a look at three players taking that journey this season. (FYI: Shohei Ohtani will not be apart of this list. As he will only be a hitter this season recovering from Tommy John Surgery.)
Michael Lorenzen- Cincinnati Reds
The righty reliever for the NL Central Cincinnati Reds is the player that initially sparked this article. As the Reds will be attempting to use the former college outfielder in both roles. During Spring Training the Reds will be looking to stretch out Lorenzen. Thus giving Cincy the versatility of Lorenzen being able to work multiple innings out of the bullpen or be a starter. And as he builds up that arm strength, he will also be seeing time in the Cincinnati outfield. Lorenzen took batting practice as a part of the outfielder’s group last week.
With the Reds releasing speedster Billy Hamilton, the centerfield job in Cincinnati is up for grabs. It becomes a truly unique situation when a pitcher (especially a relief pitcher) is playing in the outfield. But if you have watched Lorenzen taking swings in the box you know, he is an athlete first and a pitcher second. And someone that could find himself shagging balls in the outfield and striking guys out on the mound.
Brendan McKay- Tampa Bay Rays
Coming out of college McKay was billed as a 2-Way Player. The first baseman and LHP going into the Tampa Bay minor league system with the intention to work on both portions of his craft. As the game continues to evolve and teams are constantly seeking competitive advantages McKay offers the example. Currently, we do not have a large sample size of what McKay is capable of, but this season could see him take a big leap forward.
Matt Davidson- Texas Rangers
Last season as a member of the Chicago White Sox, Matt Davidson stepped on the mound during a blowout game as a way to save the bullpen. What transpired next was the next evolution of Davidson’s Major League career. Matt would be released by the White Sox and would sign on with the Texas Rangers on a Minor League Deal. The intentions of the signing by the Rangers is to attempt to turn Matt Davidson into a 2-Way Player. Now expectations and praise must be tempered as Davidson would pitch just three innings and face only eleven batters. What is impressive in the extremely small sample size is that Matt would strikeout two, only walk one, and pitch to a FIP of 2.83 and a 0.00 ERA.
This spring we will see these men and potential more attempt the feat of becoming 2-Way Players. We have even seen footage of Pablo Sandoval on the mound in San Francisco Giant’s camp. But as with every “new innovation” in Major League Baseball, it will take time and success in order to be adopted as a true option. As it is being tested, however, it will be fun to watch these players attempt something incredibly difficult.