I will grant that every single major league baseball player is a better athlete than me and most of the rest of us. From Bryce Harper on down to Billy Butler and Bartolo Colon, they’re all stronger and faster and more agile and more skilled than we are, even if we forget that sometimes. Ballplayers may look a lot more like “real people” than, say, basketball or football players, but they’re world class athletes in ways we simply don’t and can’t appreciate.
Still, there are some claims about a ballplayers’ physical abilities of which I am skeptical. Claims like these about Aroldis Chapman in George King’s story in the New York Post:
According to a person familiar with the situation, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Chapman would beat the 6-foot, 160-pound Hamilton, who stole 57 bases in 114 games last season, in a 100-yard dash. The person said Chapman might be the best athlete in the majors.
And it’s more than flat-out speed. Word is other Reds players wouldn’t go into the weight room when Chapman was working out because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by his strength.
On some days I may spend a lot of time asking why someone making that claim demand anonymity from a reporter, but let’s let that go for a second.
Have you seen Billy Hamilton run? It’s hard to compare across eras, but I bet he’s one of the fastest players in the history of the game. I’m less certain about Chapman’s weightlifting abilities. I mean, who can say? But I’m just sort of skeptical. Maybe because I remember that profile on Chapman from a year or two ago that talked about how he smoked Marlboro reds and, in the offseason, slept until like 3pm and stuff.
It doesn’t matter, obviously. The dude throws 102 m.p.h. on the regular and, as I noted above, he’s a world class athlete even if he’s burnin’ 20 butts a day, Jim Leyland-style. I’m just somewhat skeptical and feel like, maybe, someone is having some fun with George King.