March 14, 2005
Rick Ankiel

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

Of course he could always become a long snapper.

Posted by: Chris on March 14, 2005 12:42 PM

Thanks for the link!

Posted by: David Pinto on March 14, 2005 12:58 PM

Here's one that you may have not known.

Dave Winfield was a pitching prospect before he became an outfielder. He was considered the ace of the staff while at the University of Minnesota before he injured his pitching shoulder. More information is at:

Then again, Mickey Mantle was originally a prospect at shortstop. :-)

Posted by: William Hughes on March 14, 2005 8:41 PM

NO ONE ever converts to catcher. There's such a dearth of quality players at that position.

Posted by: Chris Elam on March 14, 2005 10:26 PM

The problem is that Ankiel just can't pitch anymore. He threw a 36-pitch batting practice; out of the 36 pitches, he threw 4 strikes. 4. Batting practice. Several pitches had the bp catcher leaping into the air. If he makes it, great, but otherwise it's another Chuck Knoblauch

Posted by: Kevin Jones on March 15, 2005 12:22 PM