I got to chipping out a little response to the Dan Vogelbach shtick and realized I had no bearings on the idea of fat players in baseball in 2017-18. Is there ANYbody on SSI that cares about a ballplayer's weight -- beyond what is measured as bad defense and bases lost on the basepaths? Would be eager to hear if, and why.
It is a good point that Ruth was a football player type. The Yankees as we know are wearing pinstripes because they were embarrassed about Ruth's body. That dude was very often 50 lbs. overweight compared to a "cut" athlete.
But like you say, a man can have a very powerful body and can use it lethally despite a 30-lb. overcoat because the body distributes the extra weight so well. There are "fatties" and there are strong men who don't cut.
I was there for Boog Powell :- ) and believe he was more of the Country Breakfast type Matt was talking about. He had something of a gut but not so much in comparison to his sawhorse frame. Earl Weaver On Strategy had some material in there about why he let Boog's weight issue slide. Earl defended Boog, said Boog got cranky "when he wasn't eating all he wanted" and that Earl would rather have a happy player than a sleek one.
All the way up to "Moneyball" it was obviously a very high priority to the average scout that a player EXUDE athleticism. Billy Beane kidded them all through Draft Day -- in the book -- "you clowns are trying to sell blue jeans here. This is baseball." Didn't Kruk have some great line like that ... Drill sargeant line: "Private, you look like somebody hit a can of biscuits on the counter."
It's interesting too how much the uniformed people NOT on the roster, care about looking in shape so they feel a little less out of the group. 98% of them work out hard core, despite the fact that their playing days are distant memories.
Prince Fielder I'll bet could have dropped close to 100 lbs. at times and he still somehow played at star level. Everything a person does is harder when he's swaddled in weight like that, but Fielder pushed the limits of what's possible in that range ... LOL. Jack Zdurienik famously pushed $180M into the table on Prince, at a time when that guy had 60+ lbs to lose or more. OBP is pretty valuable.
So are scouts in there right now talking 95% less about "bad baseball body" than they were 20 years ago?
As a general rule I've got to come down a bit more toward Native's side here, that the weight is a negative but at 1B/DH the negative tends to recede into the background and become one negative among many. Vogelbach has some really special HIT ability and sorts out balls/strikes so well that O.B. is mostly looking past the defense and baserunning penalties.
The NFL used to encourage an extra 20-30 lbs. on the offense line, since it adds inertia. Do you think that somewhere in there, inertia can be a help to a jittery batter? Perhaps weight helps batters to be less jumpy? hmmmmmmm Every overweight hitter we've talked about was a pitch stalker.
From an aiki standpoint ... aikido is a weird martial art, with dojos that far overemphasize their version of "kata" (half-speed demonstrations without serious sparring). There are all kinds of aikido dojos in Seattle that perform waza as though they were dance steps, and which NEVER hold sparring sessions. These are called "spiritual" dojos as opposed to the "martial" ones that might actually help a person in self-defense. Point is, there are any number of aikido senseis, even high-ranking ones in Japan, who are horrible shape physically. It's a martial art for 70-year-olds.
I personally think that Vogelbach is kind of surprisingly light on his feet, around the bag and certainly in the batter's box. His weight isn't a decisive factor in my book. But of course you could find plenty of baseball people who would rather let somebody else worry about Vogelbach's weight. It doesn't speak well to 'Bach's 30+ age prospects but right now, no issue to me, besides UZR and BsR numbers. Did I read he had a -35 runs UZR last year?
If there are any Denizens apart from Matty who recoil at overweight position players, go ahead and surprise me :- ) I'd be interested in hearing about it, "His body is his living. If he can't control his own weight, who needs him." Not that such is Matt's opinion exactly.