Helping Your Own Cause July 10, 2011Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Alex Gonzalez, Barry Enright, Brian McCann, Carlos Perez, Cliff Lee, Craig Kimbrel, Dan Uggla, Darren Holmes, Kevin Ritz, Pitchers batting, Shaun Marcum, Tim Hudson, Travis Wood, Yovani Gallardo, Zach Britton, Zach Duke, Zack Greinke
Yesterday, Cliff Lee of the Phillies scored the only run for his team by homering to right center in the bottom of the third inning. Cliff’s lead held until Dan Uggla led off the fifth with a homer of its own, and the score stayed tied until the top of the eleventh when Alex Gonzalez and Brian McCann batted three in for the Braves to set up Craig Kimbrel for the save. Lee’s homer prompted a couple of searches that led readers here – specifically, people are curious about pitchers hitting home runs.
It’s uncommon, but not as rare as I’d expected. Fifteen home runs this year (out of 2410, so about 0.6% of MLB home runs) were hit by pitchers. They’re last in the majors for home runs by position – even pinch hitters hit more (54) – but third from the bottom are designated hitters with 154. Interestingly, even doubling DHs’ home runs puts them third (behind first basemen and right fielders).
One pitcher – Zach Duke of Arizona – has hit two home runs, with the remainder hitting only one each. The World’s Worst Sports Blog’s favorite player, Yovani Gallardo, combined with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to put up three pitcher homers for Milwaukee, tying Duke and Barry Enright‘s Diamondback total. No pitcher has surrendered more than one home run to another pitcher, but two have both allowed one and scored one: Greinke and Travis Wood. Besides Lee, four pitchers – Enright, Wood, Zach Britton, and Tim Hudson – have homered to break a 0-0 tie.
This year or last year, no game had home runs hit by pitchers from both teams. I scanned manually, and there were a few dates with multiple home runs by pitchers, but I couldn’t find a game with home runs by both teams’ pitchers until I got back to April 13, 1997. The Montreal Expos’ Carlos Perez homered off of Colorado starter Kevin Ritz, who was lifted (in the top of the fifth) after one more batter for reliever Darren Holmes. Holmes allowed another earned run, but got out of the inning and then led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer of his own. Pitchers for both teams homered not only in the same game, but the same inning, separated by only six batters.
Chad Billingsley’s Home Run June 6, 2011Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Casey Blake, Chad Billingsley, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, James Loney, Keith Osik, Matt Kemp, Nationals, Nick Swisher, Pitchers batting, position players pitching, Rays, Reds, Travis Wood, Yankees, Zach Duke
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Chad Billingsley had what was by all accounts an unremarkable start on the mound last night: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, all of them earned, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 HBP. Considering that the Dodgers have seven tough losses already (only the Rays and the Nationals have more), this would ordinarily be a short entry commenting on how Billingsley needs some work.
Actually, scratch that. I wouldn’t make that entry – the folks over at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness would.
Billingsley managed to earn a mention last night by hitting the second home run of his career (solo in the second) and going 2 for 2 with a walk. Billingsley’s Win Probability Added (WPA) from the plate was a team-leading .215 (Matt Kemp was second with .168). Of course, he evened that out with actually subtracting WPA as a pitcher. Still, his walk in the third forced Casey Blake in for a second RBI, and his double in the fifth brought James Loney home and ultimately pulled Reds starter Travis Wood out of the game.
The most stylish home runs by pitchers happen when the player doesn’t even know he’s a pitcher, though – on April 13, 2009, Nick Swisher hit a home run in the top of the fourth inning while playing first base and then was called on to pitch the bottom of the 8th in a 15-5 loss to the Rays. He’s the only player in the last 10 years to start the game as a position player, hit a home run, and pitch. Admittedly, that’s a weird set of conditions. Luckily, there’s another instance that almost fits, so I don’t feel like I’m cheating. Keith Osik didn’t start on May 20, 2000, but came in as part of a triple-switch in the top of the 8th to play third base. Osik hit a two-run homer to bring Mike Benjamin home in the bottom of the 8th, then gave up 5 earned runs on 5 hits in the top of the 9th.
Hopefully Billingsley will repeat his performance at the plate and will continue cleaning up on the mound. Last night was his first Cheap Win of the year, and he already has two Tough Losses. Not a bad showing as far as ability goes.
Zambrano Back on the Horse May 27, 2011Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Carlos Zambrano, Chris Young, Cubs, Dan Haren, Mel Stottlemyre, Mets, Micah Owings, Pitchers batting
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Last night, Carlos Zambrano pitched on one day’s rest after pinch-hitting against the hapless Mets for two RBIs on Tuesday. We’ve talked about Zambrano’s pinch-hitting prowess before, but last night he was an awesome 3 for 3 from the plate, including a double. In fact, in 26 plate appearances, Zambrano’s got 9 hits for a .375 batting average and, since he has no walks, a .375 on-base percentage. Not only is that impressive, but I hear he can pitch, too.
I figured that was pretty impressive. It can’t be often that a pitcher gets three at-bats and hits for all of them, can it? It’s happened 450 times since 1919, including, surprisingly, once already this year. The Mets’ Chris Young managed a 3-for-3 night while notching the win against the Phillies back on April 5.
In recent memory, the most at-bats by a pitcher who hit each time was Dan Haren, who grabbed a 4-for-4 as a Diamondback against the Cardinals last year (also as the winning pitcher). Haren also gave up a whopping 7 runs, so he’s lucky he was hitting.
Finally, Mel Stottlemyre (in 1964) and two pitchers from the 1920s had 5-for-5 games. Stottlemyre’s two-hit gem included him hitting a double and pitching to a game score of 83.
Pitchers Hit This Year (or, Two Guys Named Buchholz) December 23, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: baseball-reference.com, Bruce Chen, Clay Buccholz, Evan Meek, George Sherrill, Gustavo Chacin, hit by pitch, Jack Taschner, Joe Blanton, Kenley Jansen, Manny Aybar, Matt Reynolds, Pitchers batting, Taylor Buccholz, weird lines, Yovani Gallardo
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Okay, I admit it. This post was originally conceived as a way to talk about the supremely weird line put up by Gustavo Chacin, who in his only plate appearance for Houston hit a home run to leave him with the maximum season OPS of 5.0. Unfortunately, Raphy at Baseball Reference beat me to it. Instead, I noticed while I was browsing the NL’s home run log to prepare to run some diagnostics on it that Kenley Jansen had two plate appearances comprising one hit and one walk. (Seriously, is there anything this kid can’t do?)
In Kenley’s case, that’s not entirely surprising, since he was a catcher until this season. His numbers weren’t great, but he was competent. What surprised me was that 75 pitchers since 2000 have finished the season with a perfect batting average. 9 were from this year, including Clay Buchholz and his distant cousing Taylor Buchholz. Evan Meek and Bruce Chen matched Jansen’s two plate appearances without an out. None of the perfect batting average crowd had an extra-base hit except for Chacin.
Since 2000, the most plate appearances by a pitcher to keep the perfect batting average was 4 by Manny Aybar in 2000.
At the other end of the spectrum, this year only three pitchers managed a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage without getting any hits at all. George Sherrill and Matt Reynolds both walked in their only plate appearances; Jack Taschner went them one better by recording a sacrifice hit in a second plate appearance.
Finally, to round things out, this year saw Joe Blanton and Heureusement, ici, c’est le Blog‘s favorite pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, each get hit by two pitches. Gallardo had clearly angered other pitchers by being so much more awesome than they were.
Santana the Late-Blooming Hitter July 7, 2010Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: Brewers, Dave Eiland, home runs, Jason Jennings, Johan Santana, Mets, Pitchers batting, Yovani Gallardo
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Last night, Johan Santana hit his first home run in his 87th career game as a batter. (Granted, he’s played far more than that many games because he played a few years in the American League.) Out of curiosity, I checked Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index to see how many home runs have been hit by pitchers in their first 87 games as batters.
Since 1961, there have been 431 home runs (although the Play Index only lists games starting at 1970, so that may or may not be accurate). Four pitchers have hit home runs in their first games, including Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland in 1992 and Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings. Like Johan, Jennings pitched a complete game shutout for the win that night.
The all-time leader in home runs by a pitcher in the first 87 games (how’s that for esoteric?) is Yovani Gallardo, who’s in his fourth season pitching for the Brewers. He’s hit seven of them, and as of July 4 he’s only hit in 71 games. He’s got a lot of time to pick up the pace and possibly hit the triple-digit mark when he gets back from the disabled list some time after July 20.
Pitchers with 4+ RBIs (Sorry, Mets fans) September 23, 2008Posted by tomflesher in Academia, Baseball.
Tags: Baseball, Cubs, Diamondbacks, economics, Felix Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Larry Christenson, Mets, Micah Owings, Pitchers batting, Research
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Last night, the Cubs’ Jason Marquis hit a rare grand slam. Even rarer is that Marquis was the starting pitcher and got the win. Still rarer: Marquis had one hit and 5 RBIs.
That raises the question: just how common an event is Jason’s productivity?