Whether or not you want to hear about Major League Baseball players’ weight and fitness this time of year, most of them will insist that it is important to how well they hold up over the length of a long 162 game season.
Take Oakland A’s pitcher A.J. Griffin. He feels that he was running out of gas in the second half of 2013, which is reflected somewhat in his statistics: in the first half he went 8-6 with a 3.68 ERA, while in the second half he went 6-4 with a 4.06 ERA. While the change in stats was not dramatic, he says he felt the fatigue.
Why? Because his weight fluctuated after he showed up to camp last spring ‘pretty fat.’ From Susan Slusser of the San Franciso Chronicle:
In the middle of last season, feeling the effects of his extra pounds and a lack of energy, Griffin decided to lose weight. He had weighed 248 pounds to start the spring but got down to 228 during the summer.
Dieting, however, may have sapped his strength at a key point of the season; that’s one train of thought among A’s coaches and support staff. Griffin appeared to be running out of gas in July and August, his ERA rising to 4.55 in those months.”
Griffin ate more once he reached the big leagues. Why? Because he could:
…Griffin said he finally had enough money to dine well.
Then there are the temptations of the major leagues, which tend to be more difficult for starting pitchers to avoid than everyday players or relievers; Griffin said he often ate out of boredom. The spread in the A’s clubhouse, the many food options on the team plane – all of these are not friendly for those who gain weight easily.”
Griffin is accountable for what the weight he did gain, saying it was his fault. He seems to have a much better grasp of where he needs to be to pitch in the big leagues:
This spring, Griffin reported at what he believes is his optimal weight, ranging between 236-241 pounds, ‘depending on the day,’ he said.
Um…depending on the day, his weight might fluctuate by five pounds? OK, maybe he still has some things to learn, but at least he’s not fat this year.