Best Hitting Pitchers


#1

In youth baseball, it’s often the Pitchers, Shortstops, Centerfielders who are the best all around athletes on the team. These three players on a youth team will regularly play two or three of these key positions. Also, due to arm strength requirements, there are many catchers who spend some of their time pitching. These players often bat in the top half of the order all the way through youth baseball and High School. They are quite often multi-sport athletes that contribute significantly to those other teams.

If you look at the major leagues, there’s a transition that occurs. Often you see players in these key defensive positions batting low in the order. One would think that a high performance athlete like an MLB pitcher would also be of use in a batting order. Other than Babe Ruth, I really struggle to come up with a name. Of course there are pitchers who swing a decent bat–for a pitcher, but I’m talking about someone who would be in the line up, even if he wasn’t on the bump. Surely, there is an athlete out there who could function as a DH when not pitching? When was the last time you saw a pitcher hit for himself in the American League?

What is the driving force behind the decline of the pitcher’s usefulness in the batting order? What’s the trigger that knocks these athletes out of contention for a regular spot in the defensive line up? Is it the need to protect the team’s investment? At what point does offensive production drop off to the point that it makes this disappearance from the batting order an inevitability?

What are your thoughts on this vexing topic?


#2

I said this same thing when I was aguing with the varsity coach abouit pitchers not hitting at the major league level. He said "Pitchers are unique peopel made to pitch. Not everyone can pitch, and not every one can hit.
My response was pitchers are also some of the best athletes and just like pitching, hitting is timing. In order for pitchers to be good and effective, they have to be coordinated and their motion has to be synchronized for optimal velocity and control.


#3

I think Madison Bumgarner can flat out rake for a pitcher of his caliber. He hit 9 home-runs the last two years in about 140 ABs over 70 games. Over the course of about 150 games thats about 20 home-runs, a decent output for any player. I think that managers like Bochy want to let player like him rest because his position as pitcher is much more important to the team than as a batter, he definitely could DH though.
Also managers want to develop bench position players more and give them at bats to keep their morale and development up and keep them sharp. It’s more important to develop someone who is taking batting practice as his main focus every single day than someone who is working on pitching.
Just my thoughts.


#4

For the most part, pitchers now are specializing on pitching so early – they no longer are playing other positions, getting at-bats, etc. They simply pitch and sit, pitch and sit.

This leads to a point where their pitching skills get ahead of their hitting skills – i.e., they keep improving pitching, but stop improving hitting – and coaches simply DH for them. So they pitch and sit, pitch and sit.

The good hitting pitchers I see these days were most likely position players first who were converted to pitchers a little later than normal for most kids.


#5

That’s a great point.


#6

I’m sure there are quite a few pitchers who are also very capable hitters. One that comes to mind (although recently retired) is Tim Hudson. In 1997 he was the first player to be named 1st team All SEC at two different positions (OF & P).


#7

Rick Ankiel too. Hit cleanup on Team USA and was the top pitcher.


#8

Ankiel was indeed a true two way player!