25 Best MLB Players Past and Present Who Don't Look Like Athletes
Despite what some critics may say, baseball players are still professional athletes.
Some are even phenomenal ones, like New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. The future Hall-of-Famer had a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Miami and was also recruited to play quarterback for the school's football team before opting to go straight to the pros.
At 6'3", 228 pounds, he has the build of a true athlete.
Yet, that isn't to say that baseball hasn't seen its fair share of players who didn't look like athletic phenoms. Fat or thin, the game has seen its fair of both pudgy and skinny stars.
One example I like to point out in this case is Tim Lincecum, who has a skinny build at 5'11", 163 pounds, and whose long hair makes him look more like a rock star than a baseball player.
Despite that perception, he is one of the game's top strikeout artists and won back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009.
That said, it's time to go throughout baseball history and honor those like Lincecum, be it the fat players who mashed home runs or skinny ones who succeeded on pure physical ability.
Here are 25 MLB players who, despite their varying degrees of success, either didn't or currently do not look like athletes.
No. 25: Mariano Rivera
Rivera is the all-time leader in saves with 608 but at first glance, he doesn't really look like the type of guy who would be a shutdown pitcher. At 6'2", 185 pounds, his slight build isn't exactly what one would call intimidating.
Still, the future Hall of Famer has made a career of using his phenomenal cut fastball to dominate hitters and win his team games. Over 18 MLB seasons, he has a 2.21 career ERA and a phenomenal 0.99 WHIP.
He may not look like an elite athlete, but he sure as hell has played like one for his entire MLB tenure thus far.
No. 24: Brett Gardner
Gardner is a natural speedster but at 5'10", 185 pounds, plus a goofy face, he doesn't really look like an athlete.
Rather, he looks like someone who you might see on the hit TV show Swamp People, or in any environment besides a baseball clubhouse.
Still, the man can play, and his absence due to an elbow injury has been a great loss for the New York Yankees.
No. 23: Joba Chamberlain
No. 22: Kirby Puckett
When he debuted in 1984, Puckett appeared to be a bit on the pudgy side at 5'8", 178 pounds, a number which grew over the course of his career.
Still, despite not appearing to be in the best shape, he was a 10-time All-Star and .318 career hitter over 12 MLB seasons.
Puckett was still at the top of his game before being diagnosed with Glaucoma in 1996 which forced him to retire. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001.
No. 21: David Ortiz
Always a threat to golf a home run out of the stadium, Ortiz's primary role is that of a DH as he has only played 46 games in the field since 2005.
This is probably a good thing, as he is a bit slow on his feet at 6'4", 230 pounds.
I mean, come on. Where do you think the nickname "Big Papi" comes from?
No. 20: Dmitri Young
Though he has recently lost a lot of weight, Young certainly didn't look like an athlete throughout most of his career. A diabetic, Young was forced to retire from the disease in 2010.
Still, despite his weight issues, the man knew how to mash home runs. In 2003, playing with the Detroit Tigers, he hit .297 with 29 homers and 85 RBI.
To be honest, despite his success as a baseball player, I think he looks more like Bone Crusher than an athlete.
No. 19: Greg Luzinski
Every time I see this picture of Luzinski, I can't help but think that he looks like a stunt double for John Candy of Uncle Buck fame. Still, it's hard to argue that the 6'1", 220-pound power hitter looked like an athlete.
From the paunchy face to this fateful picture, it's clear why he ended up on this list.
No. 18: Tony Gwynn
As can be clearly seen in this picture, Gwynn was out of shape. To top it all off, though generously listed at 5'11", he was probably closer to 5'8" or 5'9".
In spite of both factors, the man was the most consistent hitter of his generation and hit under .300 just once in his 20 MLB seasons, all with the San Diego Padres.
The first-ballot Hall of Famer was a .338 career hitter and won eight NL batting titles. That's not bad for someone short and chubby!
No. 17: Fernando Valenzuela
In his first seven MLB seasons, Valenzuela became an overnight sensation for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the city was overcome with "Fernandomania." Over that stretch, the pudgy Mexican phenom went 99-68 with a 2.94 ERA and 1,274 strikeouts to go with a 1.18 WHIP.
Then, in 1987, Valenzuela's physique caught up with him as his wonky windup slowly started causing arm problems. He would pitch in the majors until 1997, but was no longer his dominant self. For the rest of his career, he went just 74-85 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
Still, fans will always fondly remember the days of Fernandomania, even if Valenzuela didn't really look like an ace pitcher.
No. 16: John Kruk
I could say a million things about how Kruk looks in this photo, but he already said it all for me.
The quirky outfielder publicly said, "I'm not an athlete. I'm a professional baseball player."
No. 15: Bip Roberts
One of baseball's smallest at 5'7", 150 pounds, Roberts relied on his speed to make his slight frame stand out from his larger contemporaries.
He may not have looked like the most athletic person, but his 204 stolen bases from 1989-1995 made him one of the most reliable leadoff men of his generation.
No. 14: CC Sabathia
At 6'7", 290 pounds, Sabathia looks more like a nightclub bouncer than a workhorse pitcher. Seriously, every time I look at the guy, I imagine him literally tossing some guy out of a bar for being loud and obnoxious.
Still, despite his unathletic physique, Sabathia was actually a high school football star who received a scholarship offer from UCLA and signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Hawaii before choosing to stick with baseball.
Since joining the New York Yankees in 2009, he has gone an astounding 70-26 with a 3.24 ERA, winning a World Series ring in his first season in the Bronx.
Not bad for someone who looks like MLB's equivalent of William "The Refrigerator" Perry!
No. 13: Boog Powell
Though one of the most intimidating power hitters of his time, Powell definitely could have used some time on the treadmill.
He stood 6'4" and on the wrong side of 230 pounds, and still managed to hit 339 career home runs and take home two World Series rings to go with his 1970 AL MVP trophy.
In fact, chances are that the reason he's looking off into the distance in this picture is because he saw a plate of hot dogs in the dugout.
No. 12: David Wells
At 6'3" and probably well over the 187 pounds at which he is listed on Baseball Reference, Wells was infamous for being one of the most out-of-shape players in the game, and seemed pretty sensitive about it.
Still, despite his heavyset build, the man was still one of the most consistent pitchers of his generation, throwing a perfect game in 1998 and winning a World Series ring that same year.
Given how he lasted 21 seasons, he was clearly doing something right, even though he didn't appear to be in shape.
No. 11: Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera is 6'4", 240 pounds, and his chubby face says it all. If this man is an athlete in perfect shape, then I'm the president of the United States.
Still, he is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, hitting .325 with 27 homers and 91 RBI this year. For his career, he has hit .317 with 303 homers and 1,072 RBI, and he's only 29.
No. 10: Cecil Fielder
Cecil Fielder was good for one thing: launching long home runs.
At 6'3" and on the wrong side of 230 pounds, his large upper body allowed him to do hit bombs while he was limited in every other area.
Never before have I seen someone move so slowly in the field to the point where it's sadly comical.
His nickname, "Big Daddy," was very fitting.
No. 9: Smoky Burgess
OK, I just need this answered now. Was Smoky Burgess an All-Star catcher or a Don Rickles impersonator?
No. 8: Prince Fielder
Fielder is 5'11", 275 pounds, and much like his father Cecil, good for one thing: smashing home runs out of the park.
At just 28 years old, he already has 248 career longballs, which probably frustrates some talented minor league players who still haven't received a call to the majors.
Well, maybe this will make them feel better.
No. 7: Mo Vaughn
Vaughn weighed about 270 pounds during his tenure with the New York Mets and though he was a decent home run hitter for the Boston Red Sox in the prime of his career, he never really looked like a good athlete at any point as he constantly struggled with his weight.
One of my friends who's a Mets fan constantly jokes that Vaughn spent two years with the Mets and ate $26 million there. Given how he was so out of shape during his short tenure with the team, I wouldn't be surprised at all.
No. 6: Charlie Kerfeld
Kerfeld was a big guy at 6'6", 225 pounds, but just look at this picture. I'm not sure if he's on his way to an AV Club meeting or just looking for the other half of his sandwich.
I'm going with the sandwich theory considering that Kerfeld had a fat-kid mentality, having once negotiated a contract in which he would get 37 boxes of orange-flavored Jell-O.
No. 5: Bob Hamelin
How Hamelin managed to last in MLB for more than just a cup of coffee is ridiculous.
His 6'1", 240-pound build seemed better suited for the JV football squad than the baseball diamond, yet he took home the 1994 AL Rookie of the Year Award when he hit .282 with 24 homers and 65 RBI.
He would only last four more years, but his award-winning season proves that there's hope for any aspiring baseball player out there. Regardless of build, anything is possible.
No. 4: Sidney Ponson
Well, I think I can guess where some of Charlie Kerfeld's Jell-O went!
No. 3: Tim Lincecum
Lincecum is 28 years old and at 5'11", 163 pounds, he looks more like someone you would meet at Bonnaroo rather than a dominant MLB pitcher.
Yet, despite his diminutive size, the man they call "The Freak" has shown that he can play with the big boys and shut the best hitters down.
For his career thus far, Lincecum has gone 75-52 with a 3.25 ERA and has struck out 1,266 hitters in 1,157.1 innings. In 2008 and 2009, he took home the NL Cy Young Award and in 2010, he won his first World Series ring.
He may be struggling this year, but one thing is certain: While he may not look like an athlete, Lincecum sure plays like one.
No. 2: Jonathan Broxton
Broxton is 6'4", 300 pounds, and playing professional baseball instead of football.
Given how he's closer to the average size of an NFL defensive lineman than an MLB pitcher, I don't think there's anything more to be said here.
No. 1: Babe Ruth
Listed at 6'2", 215 pounds, Ruth was definitely much heavier than that. Here was a man known for drinking like a fish and eating ridiculous amounts of hot dogs in one sitting, and yet he was still the most feared hitter of his time.
Today, if someone were to solely eat hot dogs and beer, there's no way they would be able to smack 714 career home runs, let alone run around the bases or play the field. Sure, Ruth didn't look like an athlete, but his upper-body strength was such that he seemed like a natural Adonis.
Despite his rotund build, fans will always love him and what he did for the game.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!