Recently, The Athletic published a poll of big league players on a variety of topics. It was mostly just an entertaining piece of light-hearted All-Star break content, but the final question in the poll reminded me of something I’ve been asking myself: Aside from Shohei Ohtani, which pitcher could make it as a full-time hitter? Top result: Michael Lorenzen (45%).
It’s no secret why his fellow players think so highly of Lorenzen’s hitting ability. This season, Lorenzen—who has a 2.30 ERA in 21 appearances on the mound—is hitting .400/.455/1.300 with three home runs in 12 plate appearances. One of those home runs was a pinch-hit grand slam a few weeks ago.
Lorenzen only has four hits this season, actually; as noted above, three of them were homers. The other hit was a single back in early June, but even that otherwise-forgettable single was a spectacular feat. The exit velocity as the ball came off Lorenzen’s bat, as measured by MLB’s Statcast system, was 116.5 miles per hour. That’s the highest exit velocity ever recorded for a pitcher. Even more fascinating: It’s the hardest hit ball ever recorded by any Reds hitter. Sure, MLB has been recording exit velocity for only the last four seasons, but Lorenzen hit that ball harder than any recorded by Joey Votto, Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez, or Scooter Gennett.
And it’s not like Lorenzen just learned how to hit this season. In his career, he’s hitting .254/.277/.524 with a 110 OPS+. That effectively means he’s been 10 percent better than a league average hitter at the plate over the course of his career (only 70 plate appearances, so all the usual caveats about small sample size apply). It is becoming increasingly clear that Lorenzen has an idea what he’s doing with a bat in his hands.
So let’s go back to that question I mentioned above, a question Reds management should be trying to answer as well. Could Michael Lorenzen be a full-time two-way player? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
Read the whole thing, and let me know what you think. What do the Reds have to lose?
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.