Last week, Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel announced that he was giving up pitching and would try to make it as an outfielder. While the sportswriter consensus appears to be happiness for Ankiel, who endured a terrible meltdown on the mound in the 2001 playoffs and never returned to form after that, there's not much hope for success at the major league level. Rob Neyer notes a prior example of a pitcher-to-outfield change, and predicts that like this predecessor, Ankiel will only be a minor-league hitter, though John Manual thinks there's a small chance he could make it.
Of course, the name that will occur to everyone is Babe Ruth. As David Pinto notes, Ruth was a much better hitter than Ankiel has shown himself to be - Ruth was playing the outfield part time from the beginning, and in his last full season of pitching, he hit 325/385/472, numbers which dwarf Ankiel's performance of 250/292/382 from 2000.
Personally, I think Ankiel ought to consider aiming for the Brooks Kieschnick career path. He can hit well enough to be a pinch hitter, and as a lefty there will always be room for him in someone's bullpen. Maybe giving up on being a starting hurler will enable him to relax enough to weigh that option, I don't know. Whatever, I wish him good luck.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 14, 2005 to Baseball | TrackBack