You don't need to be big to be powerful: Five small MLB players who don't play that way
Five small but powerful MLB players
When scouts are looking for the next great baseball stars, they're usually seeking big, strapping ballplayers who resemble Paul Bunyan crossed with a mountain. They want guys who can hit the ball 500 feet, hurl it 120 miles per hour and then go tear down a tree all in the same afternoon.
Most MLB standouts do fit this platonic ideal -- your Paul Goldschmidts and Clayton Kershaws -- but a number of players who don't exactly fill out the uniform have also carved out incredible Major League careers - they're still able to hit the ball a country mile and throw it through an oak tree despite resembling the small kid on your Little League team.
Kind of like Ant-Man.
After all, doesn't Scott Lang have a long history of taking down the Giancarlo Stanton-sized villains while trying to save his daughter Cassie? He may not have the build of Thor, but Ant-Man can still pack a wallop of a punch. Here are five Major Leaguers who go about their business in their own way, too.
Listed at a mere 160 pounds, Hamilton uses his slight frame and super speed to terrorize defenses. The center fielder's 111 stolen bases since debuting in 2013 are the second-most in the Majors during that span, five bases behind Jose Altuve (who we'll get to in a moment) despite playing in 150 fewer games. Which makes sense when you see that Hamilton is the one-man-team: He pulls himself up by the bootstraps and scores all on his own.
There was also that time he forced John Lackey into a balk -- merely by standing on base.
Hamilton had a problem with being caught on the bases in the past, leading the Majors with 23 unsuccessful stolen base attempts last season. This year, Hamilton is 42-for-48, good for a strong 87.5 percent success rate. If Hamilton is only improving, what chance do human pitchers have of stopping him in the future?
Listed at 5-foot-6, Altuve shocked many baseball traditionalists when he reached the Major Leagues. Despite never appearing on a major Top 100 prospect list, Altuve has earned himself a spot in three All-Star games thanks to his quick hands, impressive instincts and hard play. In 2014, he led the league in stolen bases and won the batting crown, breaking Craig Biggio's Astros record along the way.
That meant a lot of hits that look like they should be impossible:
I am also contractually obligated to show you Altuve standing next to the 6-foot-8 Nate Freiman.
Standing at 5-foot-9 on a good day, Pedroia is a quotable, balding ball of fury. He's David vs. Goliath except he never thought Goliath had a chance of winning.
When David Ortiz was struggling back in 2010, Pedroia came forward and offered this helpful laser-related tidbit
Pedroia didn't even need to reach the Majors before he started spouting off at the mouth. While in college, he faced the current Twins' pitcher Mike Pelfrey. After lacing a single, Pedroia shouted:
Sadly, there was no Statcast then to verify this information, but when you watch his swing, it seems likely. Just look at the tremendous amount of power Pedroia gets from a stroke that looks like he should be laid up in traction for the rest of the week afterward:
He manages to make himself seem pretty big on the infield, too, collecting four Gold Gloves (and the 2008 AL MVP award) in large part because of the balls that he's gobbled into his glove.
As for his belief in Bigfoot, I think that one is easy. Despite his height, I truly think that Dustin Pedroia believes that he is the enormous woodland creature.
When you watch Stroman pitch, blitzing batters with a multitude of hard, moving fastballs and darting offspeed pitches, you probably think he stands a prototypical 6-foot-2, 210 lbs. But no, when not counting his amazing hair, he's a slight 5-foot-8, 180 lbs. That didn't stop him from shutting down his bat-swinging colleagues with an 11-6 record, 3.65 ERA and outstanding 3.96 SO/BB ratio in 2014.
Even his sinker defies explanation. Just watch how this one breaks back over the plate, befuddling his opponents.
It's even more surprising that he can throw his sinker that well considering he is barely able to reach the sink.
Height Doesn't Measure Heart. Lol pic.twitter.com/UZFtGxfEMQ- Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) January 20, 2015
On the shelf this year following
Tommy John surgery (Edit: Actually, it was ACL surgery), Stroman isn't just sitting back and playing video games and watching old cartoons (which sounds awesome). Instead, he's going back to school to finish his degree.
Despite being listed as only one inch taller than Altuve, people rarely mention Rollins' height. That probably has something to do with just how impressive he has been on the field. The 36-year-old is tied for sixth among shortstops with eight home runs this season, showing he still has some pop left as he enters the twilight of a career that includes four Gold Gloves and an MVP Award. Oh yeah, he's also led the league in triples four times and steals once.
In fact, that undersells his contributions from the physically demanding position. Rollins is sixth all-time among shortstops in doubles, seventh in stolen bases, eighth in triples and 11th in hits.
Oh yeah, he also had four seasons with 20+ home runs, something that only 10 other shortstops in the history of the game have pulled off. Naturally, he's also eighth all-time in dingers. Not bad for someone who stands at only 5-foot-7.
Just as Ant-Man has shown, being small doesn't mean not being powerful. It means being powerful in your own, completely unique way. Whether that's taking down Loki with a squadron of ants, or winning MVPs and bashing dingers while not being tall enough to ride the flume at the water park.