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Position Players on the Bump: 2015 So Far August 26, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Last night, Brendan Ryan of the Yankees took the mound for two full innings to spare the bullpen after Ivan Nova, Nick Rumbelow, and Chris Capuano gamely allowed the Astros to score 15 runs in 7 innings. He allowed 2 hits and no runs in his two innings pitched. Brendan is the nineteenth position player to pitch this year; since individual mound appearances often go as cleanly as Ryan’s, I’m curious how the average appearance by a position player goes. Is it confirmation bias that leads us to remember the scoreless innings by position players?

Ike Davis pitching in college

Ike Davis pitching in college

Just for the record, Ryan’s 2 innings matched Jeff Francoeur’s 2-inning appearance for the longest appearance by a position player. Ike Davis, Jesus Sucre, Adam Rosales, and David Ross have each pitched two innings, but spread them over two appearances.

In total, position players this year have stacked up an earned run average of 4.15, which doesn’t seem too bad until you factor in the league split. The average pitcher this season for the NL has a 3.86 ERA, but the average NL position player pitcher has a much better 1.59. On the other hand, the AL has a slightly higher 3.96 on average, but position players there have a 9.00 ERA. Again, with WHIP, the average position player is pretty good – 1.52 – compared to an NL average of 1.29 and an AL average of 1.28. Again, though, there’s a big split – AL position players have a 1.75 WHIP, compared to a .088 WHIP for NL position players.

Keep in mind, though, that NL position players have pitched 5 2/3 innings, compared to 16 for AL position players. It’s likely that over a larger sample size, the National League players would similarly falter.