Baseball has long been about tools. Hit for power, hit for average, throwing, fielding, and baserunning. Well, there's one group of guys that scouts often overlook because they lack one of those things: speed/perceived lack of baserunning ability. But in a recent conversation with my friends, and now I've had it several times, I believe a commodity in baseball (after all, the lesson in Moneyball was exploiting the market, not necessarily OBP...as most people would assume) is fat guys. If a fat guy makes the Majors, it is likely because he is extremely talented in one or more of the other four tools (usually the sixth too...plate discipline). In general though, scouts and those watching don't often envy the fat man, because he often looks goofy and out of place in pro sports. But I decided it would be a fun exercise to make an All Fat-Guy Team because I think it would be the best in the majors if assembled, and it wouldn't be all that hard to dupe scout-type GM's into obtaining this type player early in their developmental track, or late for that matter. This stems from a societal stereotype that fat guys aren't athletes. And while that usually is the case, they are irregularly good, if not GREAT, baseball players, making baseball unique in sports. My hunch is this is why Americans love MLB more than the NBA, because, frankly, I don't relate to or possess one skill LeBron has...and most baseball fans are the same. While most of the guys on the list won't enjoy being mentioned, they should. So here it is...the All Fat-Guy Team. Tell me if they're winners.
Catcher: Yadier or Bengie Molina, it does not matter.
If you've seen one Molina run, you've seen them all. They are so slow that awhile ago Joe Posnanski coined a unit of measure as to how slow a moving object can be, the base unit: Molina (1 Molina being the slowest, 0 being the speed of light). BUT, speed does not define these guys. They have cannons for arms and have been good hitters. Bengie has always hit, though not always taken, good pitches. Yadier was a project of a hitter when he came up as a defensive-specialist catcher, but now he has found himself as an above average hitting catcher, with a thousand times the patience of his older brother Bengie. Either fat guy=good enough for the All Fat-Guy Team. Other brother Jose is not.
Stats: Bengie .262/.274/.425 ;Yadier .285/.355/.377
Runners Up: V-Mart, Olivo, Navarro, Soto, Pudge
First Base: Prince Fielder
Prince has lineage in this department, if for nothing else. Prince has perhaps the most powerful, if not laughable, swing in baseball. He won this year's homerun derby, is young, and is on his way to being a perennial homer powerhouse. He even realized that the key to being a great fat guy is not in being a vegetarian, but rather being an alpha-male meat-only monster. If he could eat baseballs, I'm sure he would. Instead, he has the quintessential power stroke. Big Guy + Big Swing = Long Balls + Scared Pitchers.
Second Base: Alberto Callaspo
Admittedly, it's hard to find fat middle infielders, but 2nd base has a few guys that could qualify. Of those, Callaspo may be the best. While not technically fat, he is pudgy, does not have range, and is slow. For a second baseman, that's fat. However, he waves what Mark Teahen called the "Magic Stick", so look out Curtis Jackson. He hits for high average, lots of doubles, does not strike out, and walks. A complete hitter for his position and a well-deserved spot on this team. His beer weight may only change his position on the team, not his membership.
Runners Up: L. Castillo, Polanco, Durham
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada
Shortstop is the hardest position to find a fat guy, and Tejada has simply packed on weight since his
steroid great years. However, he still swings a good bat and isn't a complete eyesore at shortstop. I wish I could put Aviles on this list, but he is injured and hurt himself by playing terribly for 5 weeks. He would have fit better. But Tejada probably deserves this non-honor.
Runners Up: Aviles, Guzman
3rd Base: Kevin Youkilis
While he has played MORE at first base in his career, Youkilis is a natural third baseman. He won a Gold Glove at first, but is a very serviceable third baseman, in addition to being one hell of a hitter. The Greek God of Walks belongs on this list if anyone does, and I suspect his weight is not stable or disappearing. At his age, it can only go up.
Runners Up: Sandoval, Mora, A. Ramirez, A. Beltre, B. Hall, Peralta (A's recent acquisition Brett Wallace fits here as well...best highlight video of any player I've seen, mostly for laughs, but one hell of a player)
Left Field: Carlos Lee
Since Lee left Chicago and stopped terrorizing the Royals, he has been one of the more dominant hitting corner outfielders in the NL, first for Milwaukee and then for Houston. His status as fat is not in question, and it is fitting for him to play in a LF that is so small he's asked for a recliner out there. But the guy can hit, plain and simple.
Runners Up: Dunn, M. Ramirez (really not fat, but moves like it)
Center Field: Andruw Jones
Aside from his brief time with the Dodgers, Jones has had an awesome MLB career. He's attempting to piece that back together with Texas right now (where else would a lost hitter go?), but he's probably the best for THIS team at this premium outfield position. Still has big power, big K numbers, but one of the better outfielders in the game defensively (ideally not CF anymore, but that's not the exercise).
Runners Up (most guys out of position): Swisher, B. Hall, G. Matthews, M. Kemp (again not fat really)
Right Field: Bobby Abreu
Again, a guy that's not the fattest but plumping up as he gets older. He is the most patient hitter imagineable, in addition to being able to run very well (for his size?) and throw well. He would be the defensive ace of this team, but also would be our lead-off catalyst. I still regret us not signing this guy when he was so cheap to get...
Runners Up: Jose Guillen, J. Bruce, Magglio
C Molina, Y.
P Sabathia (let the fat man swing)
Starting Pitchers: Sabathia, Zambrano, Buehrle, Lackey, Cain
Sabathia is the highest paid pitcher EVER, but not per pound. Zambrano is simply enormous, but having met the guy in person he really isn't fat anymore than he is simply enormous. Buehrle looks like he drinks a healthy 12 pack a day, but has the old man facial hair and build to keep that going. Lackey is huge, dominant, awesome. Matt Cain was actually lectured by his team's training staff for being out of shape (but Pablo Sandoval wasn't?), and Cain has responded, not by getting in shape, by having the best season of his career. This starting list is short because I'm only a couple years removed from having Bartolo Colon and David Wells to select.
Relievers: Jenks, Reyes, Guardado, Bradford, Wood, Valverde, Chamberlain
Fat guy doesn't automatically mean gas from the bullpen. Jenks throws hard and has topped 300 lbs. in his pro career. Reyes and Guardado are funny looking 87-93 mph fastball guys. Bradford is the Moneyball famous submariner that physically cannot move off the mound (are his back problems the result of the delivery or his beer gut? discuss.). Kerry Wood used to be fatter, but he's not tiny. Jose Valverde amazes me everytime i see him because it seems like he has an extra chin. Joba needs to do more Meth to get off this list and no longer be classified as fat. In any event, great bullpen here.
So....here are the fat guys. They're good. Market inefficiency? Possibly, maybe. Who knows. I just think it's time baseball gets celebrated for its unique and talented jolly fat guys. After all, scouts don't call these guys athletes.