MLB players are generally world-class athletes, even if some of them don’t look like it at first glance. Throughout the years, critics have called out players like CC Sabathia for gaining weight – even though some of those players are still able to put up superior results.
Here’s the story of Sabathia and four other MLB players criticized for weight gain.
The 300 lb. Sabathia has always heard criticism over his weight, but it hasn’t seemed to impact his ability to pitch effectively. Sabathia is in the final season of a 19-year career in which he’s put up some outstanding numbers, including:
- A win-loss record of 251-159
- Two seasons in which he led the league in victories
- An ERA of 3.73
- 38 complete games with 12 shutouts
- A Cy Young Award with four additional top-ten finishes
- 3,068 strikeouts
- Six All-Star appearances
- A 2009 World Series victory
It’s hard to imagine a more slender Sabathia having a better career than that. There’s little doubt that Sabathia’s headed to Cooperstown when his playing days are done.
The Indians’ slugger Yasiel Puig drew criticism earlier in his career for being overweight. Though he’s still fairly hefty at 240 lb., Puig keeps in perspective. He commented on his weight in the 2018 Body Issue of ESPN the Magazine:
“Two years ago, I didn’t feel overweight, but the scale showed I was. My coach said, “You are overweight.” I said, “Hey, but I play like that. What can you do?” I just play with the body I was given, how I feel good. I don’t know if playing heavier or lighter is better. What I do not have is a lot of fat. I usually have my body fat percentage at 6 or 7 percent. My trainer says that is very good.”
As of August 13, Puig has 23 home runs, so the extra weight doesn’t seem to be impacting his performance as an MLB player.
Pablo Sandoval was known for being on the bigger side, but the former San Francisco Giants’ third baseman got results from 2009-2014 with San Francisco.
During that time he averaged 138 games a season and hit .344 in the postseason. The Giants also won two World Series while he was there. It wasn’t until he signed a big deal with Boston in 2015 that he started to disappoint. During his three seasons in a Red Sox uniform, Sandoval managed only 14 home runs, 59 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .286.
Sandoval’s lack of performance in Boston caused other stories of his weight problems to surface. In one example, the Giants reportedly forbid him from ordering room service after games.
Ortiz’s weight never seemed to bother his hitting. Ortiz finished his career with a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total of 55.3, 541 home runs, and 1,768 RBI. Although, his size did cause Rob Gronkowski to compare Ortiz to a beer-league softball player at a roast in Ortiz’s honor.
In 2011, Bleacher Report wrote a piece titled, “Miguel Cabrera’s Weight is Hurting the Detroit Tigers.” According to the post:
“…when Cabrera broke in with the Marlins in 2003, he was 6’2″ and weighed 185 pounds. Some eight years on from that World Series-winning debut season, Miguel is tipping the scales at 240 pounds (according to ESPN), but looks closer to 250 or 260.”
The very next season, Cabrera hit an AL-leading 44 home runs. It’s debatable how much his weight gain hurt his career, though these days it looks like that career as an MLB player could be winding down. As of August 14, Cabrera has only eight home runs in 383 at-bats.