If they’re talking position players, you’ll usually hear about Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams or Ty Cobb. If it’s pitching, Nolan Ryan, Walter Johnson, Tom Seaver and Sandy Koufax will all be near the top of the list.
Then, there’s the great “He”.
He is the one whose name is as important as the game itself. He is the only man who was absolutely dominant, both in the batters box and on the hill. He is, of course, Babe Ruth.
Over the course of its history, baseball has undergone rule changes, equipment evolution, philosophy shifts, segregation and drug use. All these factors make it almost impossible to nail down “the greatest” player of all time, but for those of us who know about his early career as a Red Sox hurler, the Babe is just about as close to a lock as you can find...
...Enter Micah Owings.
For the first time that I can remember, some of us are seriously wondering if it could happen again. Have we found a pitcher who is so offensively gifted that he demands a spot in the field when he’s not on the mound? I think we have.
Over the last two seasons, Owings has proven himself to be a solid part of the Diamondbacks rotation, but, like Ruth, he may be even more effective with a bat in his hands.
In 84 Major League at bats, Micah has hit .389, with five homeruns. You can’t rake like that without someone taking notice... and both the fans and management have done just that. Owings has been seeing some appearances as a pinch-hitter lately, and it’s even been rumored that he may DH during interleague play.
If that works out well, why not throw him in the lineup on the nights when he’s not starting? If Rick Ankiel can learn to play the field, I’m pretty sure Owings can figure out how to track down a fly ball or catch a throw to first base.
As a fan, I would be extremely excited to see if he could become the first all-around ballplayer since Ruth, and it would undoubtedly be the most impressive sports achievement of my generation.
I know it’s way to early to assume things, but could you imagine... one player with 200 wins, 2000 strikeouts, 400 homeruns and 3000 hits. If he can stay healthy, I would say that those numbers should be within Owings’ reach.
The move would come with its share of questions, though.
- Would playing the field increase the chance of injury?
- What kind of price tag would a guy like this demand come contract time?
- Would a player like this, even with moderate success, be a lock for MVP every season?
- Would splitting a players focus between pitching, batting and fielding detract from his effectiveness in any or all of those areas?
- What the heck would we do about his fantasy status... and for that matter, how are the people at Topps going to get all those stats on the card?
These are questions I’d love to find answers for, and along the way, maybe we could clear up that pesky “greatest player ever” debate once and for all.
Who knows, we could have the next Babe Ruth on our hands.