MLB’s Other Two-Way Player

In 2018, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels was the first player in Major League Baseball to make the two-way 15/50 club (15 home runs and 50 IP in a season) since the legendary Babe Ruth in 1919. This achievement helped make his case for the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year Award.

Earlier this year, I looked at some potential new faces who could become two-way players like Ohtani. Since then, Matt Davidson has spent his season in the Rangers farm system with AAA Nashville. While J.D. Davis is having a very successful year for the Mets, hitting .301/.367/.513 with a 133 OPS+ and 18 home runs, he has not made any pitching appearances.

Meanwhile, one National League player who made his MLB debut in 2015, well before Ohtani’s arrival, has quietly built up a resume as a two-way player, especially since 2018. He has not gotten as much attention for his offensive contributions because his primary role is as a reliever and he therefore does not make as many plate appearances as a  designated hitter or a starting pitcher for an NL team.

Michael “Mikey Biceps” Lorenzen of the Cincinnati Reds has less than half as many plate appearances as Ohtani over his five big-league seasons. He has been consistent thanks to a .260 batting average, and he possesses good power, with a .480 career SLG. While he is unlikely to become a slugger like Ohtani, his general offensive production has been slightly above league average at an OPS+ of 103. See below for a comparison of the two players’ career averages as of September 4.

Name G PA HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Michael Lorenzen 272 110 6 20 3 .260 .295 .480 103
Shohei Ohtani 203 763 38 116 21 .287 .353 .529 135

Like Ohtani, Lorenzen has also replicated a feat that has not been seen in MLB since the days of the Babe. During the Reds’ 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, Lorenzen became the first player to record a victory, hit a home run and play the field in the same game since Ruth did so on June 13, 1921.

While he allowed one run on a solo home run by PH Jay Bruce in the 7th inning, the only hit he allowed over 2.0 IP, Lorenzen’s two-run bomb off RP Blake Parker in the 8th added some insurance runs for closer Raisel Iglesias, who nailed down the save for the Redlegs. Lorenzen also saw duty in center field to complete the historic trifecta.

With 22 games to play, the Reds will likely soon be eliminated from postseason contention. Their odds of clinching a postseason spot are less than 0.1% according to Baseball Reference. They are currently 13.5 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central with an elimination number of 10. They are also 11.0 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second Wild Card spot, with an elimination number of 13.

The Reds will face the Phillies in the series finale this afternoon at 12:35 PM ET before hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks for a weekend series starting on Friday. Matchup: Jason Vargas (6-7, 4.31 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (10-6, 2.80 ERA). Support the site by purchasing your tickets from SeatGeek!

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