Michael Lorenzen is a bit of a freak. Besides the fact that he’s lovingly called “Mikey Biceps” because he’s a physical specimen, the guy is just an incredible athlete. In college he was a center fielder who did some pitching out of the bullpen. He was very good at both. The Reds liked his skillset enough as a pitcher that they not only drafted him to play on the mound, but to develop as a starting pitcher. He reached the Major Leagues rather quickly, and spent his first season in the Major Leagues starting, but did find his way to the bullpen after that.

But while he was pitching, and doing so quite well at times throughout his career, he’s also held his own at the plate. And for a pitcher, he’s never looked anything remotely like one at the dish. But those first three seasons at the plate, he didn’t exactly jump out at you statistically, either. He hit .226/.241/.377 in 58 plate appearances. There was a triple and two homers in there, but there were also 20 strikeouts and no walks.

Last season that all changed. Michael Lorenzen was used more as a pinch hitter, and was given more opportunities to hit for himself and racked up 34 plate appearances. And he took full advantage of that, too, hitting .290/.333/.710 with a double and four home runs. This season he was hitting .313/.389/.375 in 18 plate appearances entering the game last night. The power wasn’t quite there – but he had been hitting the ball quite hard. He had 9 balls hit over 90 MPH. He had only put 10 balls in play.

On Wednesday night Michael Lorenzen connected for his first home run of the season. He took an 87 MPH offering and sent it out at 101 MPH, landing 387-feet away in the left field stands. It’s always impressive when a pitcher homers in a game – even one as talented as Michael Lorenzen. They simply don’t get as many opportunities to hit, so when it happens it’s always noteworthy.

But on Wednesday night the home run alone wasn’t anywhere near the biggest noteworthy thing that he did on the night, though it was part of it. Michael Lorenzen pitched in the game. Then he homered, hitting for himself. And then he moved into the outfield to play center field after that when Raisel Iglesias took over for the 9th inning after Lorenzen tossed two innings.

A home run. Two innings on the mound. Playing the outfield. Those two innings on the mound placed him in the box score as the pitcher credited with the win. That combination of things made him the first player since Babe Ruth to be credited with a win, hit a home run, and play in the field in the same game. Ruth did that in 1921. He did it against guys who were farmers in the offseason. He did it against only a portion of the population that was eligible to play in the Major Leagues. Lorenzen did it in a game where players are drawn in from all over the globe and are professional athletes year-round. Eat your heart out, Ruth.

26 Responses

  1. Grand Salami

    Doug I think the difference is the fact the Babe was a human beer-brat who drank and smoked away a world of talent while ML is the Ned Flanders of MLB who will probably still be the most jacked, fit player in the league at 45.

    Sign Lorenzen to a 10 year contract just to have that presence in the clubhouse for a professional generation.

    • Rich

      Mikey Biceps looks more like Pokey Lafarge than Pokey himself. Makes me “Wanna be a better man…” For music fans

  2. RedNat

    The guy hits home runs, records saves, plays centerfield, steals bases. I wish we could clone him. Amazing athlete! He has been a definite bright spot for the team the past couple of years

  3. Hoosierdad

    Babe Ruth is perhaps one of the 2 or 3 most iconic players in MLB history. That ML tied the Babe for ONE of his records is amazing. That you chose to belittle what Ruth did was not necessary. Babe accomplished his feat when the were far fewr teams and great athletes had no other professional leagues to compete in.

    • Doug Gray

      Babe Ruth played against all white guys that were born on the east side of the Mississippi River. They were the best athletes among a very select group of the population that didn’t actually view themselves (because very few of them could actually afford to do it) as full time professional athletes. Every baseball player prior to about 1960 was playing against an incredibly watered down talent pool due to the fact that anyone who had skin that wasn’t white had a lot being held against them in the eyes of Major League Baseball, and some guys who were most certainly better players weren’t getting their chance to play because of it.

      Ruth is iconic. He also did it against a bunch of dudes that worked on farms and at the local haberdashery in the offseason. Michael Lorenzen did it against guys who train year round to be the best athletes they can.

      • greenmtred

        I agree with most of what you say. It is true, though, that there were about half as many teams and not much draw from other sports to dilute the talent pool, and this mitigates the point, a little. Being a lesser athlete is not a prerequisite for farming or store-clerking. I watched a lot of baseball in the late 50s and 60s, and saw some outstanding players. There are outstanding players today, too, and it’s wonderful that the sport is now much more diverse.

      • Ed

        I like my baseball the same way I like my beer…. Mexican. (Latin). The joke still works I think.

  4. Mason Red

    Comparing ML to Babe Ruth is a stretch to say the least. Also I would gladly take some of those “farmers” from the Babe’s day over the current collection of Reds players.

    • Doug Gray

      The 1927 Yankees, if put in a time machine and brought to today, would get the doors blown off of them by the Dayton Dragons. They’d crap the bed seeing a pitching staff where every single player can hit 95 MPH.

      • greenmtred

        Doug, there’s no way of knowing such a thing. Nobody knows how hard those old guys threw. Walter Johnson was reputed to hit 100mph. People didn’t recently learn to be strong and co-ordinated, and it’s highly likely that those ’27 Yankees would have adjusted to 95mph just as modern players have.

      • Doug Gray

        We have a really good idea. In just the last 30 years the average MLB fastball has jumped 6-8 MPH. The best guesses we have is that the average fastball in the 1920’s was mid 70’s. There’s a reason that every track and field record that exists is from today and not 1920, and that it’s not even remotely close. We are bigger, faster, stronger, better, more athletic. It’s not the fault of the people in 1920 – they didn’t know better. They didn’t understand the training, the food, the health, and frankly, as humans, we’re also just bigger today, too. But facts are facts: Those dudes wouldn’t know how to handle a fastball at 95 because they likely never saw a single one of them, much less 100 of them in a game.

        Tom Browning was pitching in the Major Leagues at 79-82 MPH just 30 years ago (here’s the scouting report). You think some non-knuckleballer could do that today?

  5. Jim Walker

    During virtually the entire time Lorenzen has been in the Reds org, they have been looking for a CF.

    Accounts from back when ML was drafted indicate virtually all of MLB except the Reds org projected Lorenzen primarily as an OF, specifically a CF, and as a reliever only as a fall back if the didn’t work out as an OF. Meanwhile the Reds attempted to make him a starting pitcher.

    As Lorenzen struggled, at times mightily, to find his niche in as a MLB pitcher, the Reds continued to need a CF but never gave him a look despite the fact he virtually begged for an opportunity and excelled in brief glimpses as a position player even though he had never done anything but pitch in the Reds minor leagues..

    And we wonder why losing season follows after losing season after losing season with organizational progress seeming negligible and uneven much of time?

    • Colorado Red

      seems like Standard Practice for the Deads.

    • TR

      You hit it, Jim. As fans know, bullpens are usually each season’s work in progress, so a hitter like Lorenzen is stuck in the bullpen most of the time when the reality is they have their centerfielder who can hit. Put Lorenzen there and move Senzel to second or third base since the infield is his natural position. And consider trading Eugenio Suarez since he’s at the top of his game. This kind of move could get the Reds out of the doldrums of the past five years.

      • Pete

        TR: If ML proves he can hit well enough in ST, go with your plan. It’s so shrewd I doubt the Reds will touch it but I think it could be brilliant.

        Thom B. was vilified for mentioning ML is the fifth best hitter on the team. I take a count: Aqiuno, Suarez, Winker, JVM…..sounds about right. In fact, he may be the 3rd best.

      • Jim Walker

        @Pete> As I heard it, TB said a “scout” told him Lorenzen emerge as no worse than the 3rd best hitter on the team if given a chance to bat regularly. I immediately wondered if the reason the “scout” wanted their identity off the record was that they worked for the Reds.

      • RojoBenjy

        @TR- this would be awesome.

        @Pete below-

        I hear you on the smart guys. Some other smart guys before he was drafted thought he could stick in CF. If he couldn’t also throw 98mph, I bet that’s where he’d be today.

        Interesting question- in what capacity could he project to provide the most WAR? As his bullpen years wane—would love to see them get him into the outfield.

      • MBS

        Senzel played what 1 season as a 2B. It is not his natural position, he was a 3B. Obviously ML being the everyday CF is almost not worth discussing, because it won’t happen. But it is fun to think of.

        Senzel LF, Lorenzen CF, Aquino RF.
        (O’Grady OF, Ervin OF)
        Suarez 3B, Iglesias SS, Van Meter 2B, Votto 1B
        (Galvis U, Farmer U)
        Grandal C* (Barnhart C)

        Castillo, Bumgarner*, Bauer, Gray, DeSclafani
        Middle Innings Stephenson, Sims, Reed, V Guttierez
        Late Innings Garrett, Kuhnel, Lorenzen, Will Smith*

    • Pete

      The smart guys will tell you moving ML to a position will obviously fail, I’d like to see it tried. The smart are almost always wrong. Honestly, someone tell me what the Reds have to loose? Fan interest? We are cellar dwellers, we should be exploring every avenue to improve. Mike Lorenzen screams “major league hitter”.

      A organization this lousy shouldn’t be conservative. If you can’t be good try to be interesting or God forbid, fun.

      • Jim Walker

        I saw where Hunter Greene did some soft tossing yesterday, the first time he has thrown a baseball since he had TJ surgery. He isn’t going to be pitching competitively at the start of next season. Hopefully the Reds will borrow a page from the Angels/ Ohtani and have Greene DHing somewhere just to at least get a look at him as a hitter.

    • RojoBenjy

      @Jim

      I had been calling for Mikey to be the CF a couple years ago as well. I believe they missed the boat there.

  6. SultanofSwaff

    I think there’s a lot of truth to what Doug is positing as far as competing against a smaller talent pool in the old days. However, I don’t believe that BASEBALL players today are necessarily bigger/stronger/faster in ways that make the players of the past irrelevant. This article explains: https://www.businessinsider.com/olympics-athletics-sports-performance-history-world-records-2016-8

    Specialization of body types has a lot to do with the overall talent pool improving in other sports over the decades. The beauty of baseball is that all body types can find a role……and as we’ve seen with the huge numbers of players who wash out in the minor leagues yearly despite modern training methods, baseball is unique in that pitch recognition skills and hand/eye coordination cannot be taught or improved appreciably through training. Likewise, for pitchers the ligaments and tendons in the arm have limitations that modern science will never overcome. For those reasons, I’m inclined to believe that the cream of the crop back then would have no trouble adjusting to the modern game.

    • Doug Gray

      If those cream of the crop guys grew up today, sure. But just taking the 27-year-old dude and placing him directly into MLB in 2019 he’d have next to no chance.

  7. misconcepcion

    When Lorenzen went out to CF in the 9th, he had already notched a Blown Save, was the pitcher of record lined up for the W if Iglesias held the lead, and had a homer to spread the lead to a more comfortable gap.
    Talk about stuffing the boxscore!
    Still, I wondered, what if Iglesias (and this is hard to imagine) had made a hash of the inning with the tying or winning run coming to the on-deck circle? Could Lorenzen have come BACK to the mound and added a save to his win and blown save?
    Inquiring mimes want to know.

    • Doug Gray

      You can’t get both the win and the save.

  8. David

    Concerning 1927 vs 2019 ,with a strike of below the knee to nipple line anywhere close to black a strike,no helmet,no elbow ,hand pads,being hit for leaning over the plate,it would equal out quickly. When the true fans as per Jim Walker get riled up this ship is without a rudder.