The Phenomenon of the ‘Fat-lete’

bartolo-colon-swing

Bartolo Colon set the baseball world on fire this past weekend when he hit his first career home run at the ripe age of 42. Colon soaked up the moment by trotting down to first base with his bat in his hand and asking for directions on where to go after rounding first base. Known to Mets fans as ‘Big Sexy’, Bartolo Colon stands just under 6 feet, weighs a whopping 285 pounds and is closer in resemblance to a sumo wrestler than a major league baseball player. But somehow, every 5 days for the past 19 seasons Colon has waddled his way out to the mound and baffled major league hitters with his pitching prowess. Colon has gotten fatter and fatter over his career yet he has still be able to maintain his wizardry on the mound and lets his stats prove that he can still get the job done.

In an age where baseball players are working hard to keep their body’s in tip-top shape, there are a handful of players that seem to have no interest in sculpting their bodies to that of Michelangelo’s David. For example Prince Fielder, Pablo Sandoval and Miguel Cabrera all weigh in at over 250 pounds and visibly look to be struggling to control their weight and fascinatingly enough, day in and day out, these ‘fat-letes’ continue to produce on the baseball diamond. Fielder, Sandoval and Cabrera have all been named an All-Star team at least once in their career and have been in the conversation for their respective league’s MVP award. Many may think that you will only find ‘fat-letes’ in baseball because of the slow pace of the game but they are wrong.

Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame offensive lineman Larry Allen stood 6 foot 3 inches, weighed 325 pounds and ran like a raging hippopotamus in the open field. An example in basketball is Shaquille O’Neal who struggled to maintain his weight throughout his career and yet some consider him the greatest center ever step foot on the hardwood. Golfer John Daly topped out at 280 pounds and has been a PGA Tour card holder for 29 years.

For the case of Bartolo Colon, putting on weight seems to have allowed him to maintain enough velocity keep hitters on their toes while honing his control and hitting his spots to get guys out. You see this happen with a lot of pitchers as they age and start to put on weight. Livan Hernandez weighed 250 pounds when he retired after 16 seasons in the majors. Pedro Martinez weighed 150 pounds as a rookie and by the end of his career was closing in on 200 pounds. All three used their weight to their advantage by letting gravity take them towards the plate and focusing more on the location of their pitches rather than velocity.

Gaining weight when to extend your professional baseball career on the surface sounds idiotic but there may be a method to this madness.

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