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Why Are Baseball Players Fat?

Often, athletes are known for being prime physical specimens. They work out constantly. They are some of the most physically active people in the world. Yet, baseball players are often considered out of shape when compared to their counterparts in other sports.

Why are baseball players fat? Baseball players are fat because it doesn’t require the same physical attributes as other sports. Baseball is one of the sports which requires the least running in the world, which is the main reason why players don’t take care of their bodies like other athletes.

Why Baseball Players Are Fat

Baseball is a sport of inactivity. Players stand around at their position for long periods of time. When they are not in the field or at bat, they are sitting on the bench. This goes on for 3 or 4 hours. When there is action, it is a short burst of energy. While baseball players are in shape, they are not world-class athletes. 

However, the era of baseball players who heavily smoked and drank is in the past. Baseball players now train year-round. They are constantly lifting weights or doing cardiovascular exercises. Players consult dieticians. 

For so long, baseball players were often out of shape. They did not take care of their bodies. Players seemed more like average people. Why was there such a drastic change?

Shift In Player’s Situations

Before the age of the multi-million contract, players were paid very little. They had enough to support themselves during the season. However, when the offseason came around, they needed to find a second income. This took away from time for training. A luxury the modern player now has. 

Since so few players worked out year-round, the competition stayed mostly the same. Sure, there were the outliers who were in great physical shape. But, for the most part, all players used spring training to get in shape for the season. With this general attitude, there was no need to find time to train year-round. 

Focus On Physical Condition

Around the time that players started receiving larger paychecks, America saw a shift in its mindset. The exercise industry took off. Gyms opened up. Diets were popular.

With this shift, and the decreasing need to work an offseason job, players started working out more. They saw a boost in their performance. Eventually, they saw a boost in their paychecks. 

Spring training was no longer viewed as the time to start getting in shape. It was viewed as a final tune-up before the regular season. Players now had off-season workout regimens to follow. They were no longer viewed as out-of-shape.

This shift made the competition more intense. If a majority of players were now lifting and running, the ones who did not abide by those routines were left behind. 

Another change was with pitchers. For a long time, it was unheard of for a pitcher to lift weights. Coaches assumed pitchers needed flexibility and stamina. They were afraid lifting weights would hinder a pitcher’s flexibility.

Now, pitchers lift weights consistently. This has given them more power, and a more muscular physique. 

Fat Players See Success

Despite a big shift in how players viewed their bodies, some players continued to do the bare minimum. And, despite being considered fat compared to their peers, they still dominated the sport. Some wonder how great these players could have been if they had adhered to a workout routine. 

David Wells

David Wells pitched in 21 seasons for 9 teams. In his career, he won 239 games. In addition to all those games won, he was considered one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in the sport. He even threw the 15th perfect game in Major League Baseball History. 

He had the body of someone who ate too much and rarely exercised. If someone came across him on the street, they would likely not realize he was a professional baseball player. 

Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon is an anomaly amongst pitchers. He is known for his longevity, pitching well into his forties. However, he is overweight. In fact, his nickname is “Big Sexy”. With a large stomach, he managed to dominate hitters. He even hit a home run while batting. 

In his career, he racked up 247 wins and struck out over 2,500 batters. Both of those stats place him in elite company. Overall, Colon has the body of a man who feasts on food, but is also capable of feasting on hitters. 

David Ortiz

Affectionately known as “Big Papi”, David Ortiz went down as one of the greatest designated hitters of all time. He also helped the Boston Red Sox end their World Series drought in 2004. He had some success with the Minnesota Twins, but after signing with the Red Sox, his career took off. 

At the time of his retirement, he ranked 17th all-time in career home runs and 22nd all-time in career RBIs. In addition, he batted .286 for his career. His size made him an imposing figure in the batter’s box. It also contributed to his ability to drive the ball. 

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth is considered one of the greatest hitters of all time. He was one of the first players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He led Major League Baseball in home runs 12 times. He once held the single-season and all-time records for home runs. Both distinctions have been relinquished to other players who broke those records. 

A 7 time World Series champion, Babe Ruth was one of the most feared and productive hitters of his time. However, staying in shape was not a priority for him. Still, he is one of the most productive overweight players in baseball history. 

Final Thoughts

Baseball players have always been thought of as fat and out of shape. However, that view is no longer accurate. Players now train year-round. They focus on keeping their body in top form through weightlifting, cardiovascular exercise, and dieting. Of course, there are still outliers. 

While players now maintain their bodies religiously, there are numerous examples, past and present, of players who were top performers despite their lack of exercise.

Some of the best pitchers and hitters in baseball’s history were considered overweight by most standards. One has to wonder how great they could have been having exercised.