Pitchers and Hitting

In 25 plate appearances, Jamie Moyer has more walks (6) than some regular positional players. In fact, Moyer’s .348 on-base percentage is impressive when his .067 batting average is taken into account. As you can guess, Moyer leads all pitchers with at least 20 plate appearances in bases on balls. Bengie Molina, Cristian Guzman, Miguel Tejada, Marlon Byrd, and Jeff Francour are within two walks of Moyer’s range. Congratulations guys, a 40-something-year old pitcher is doing a better job at drawing a walk than you are.

Some other tidbits from when pitchers hit…

Livan Hernandez has struck out the lowest percentage amount of any pitcher. Mike Pelfrey has the second lowest percentage. I guess the Mets preach contact to their pitchers. Paul Maholm is striking out 63% of the time. Josh Johnson and Moyer are the other two pitchers with more than 60% strikeouts.

Carlos Zambrano has the highest ISO at .529, Micah Owings isn’t too far behind at .242, and Yovani Gollardo is the only other pitcher over .150. I guess the National League Central has a penchant for finding pitchers with capable hitting abilities. Tons of pitchers have only singles to their credit this season.

The absolute worst hitting pitchers, as measured by wRAA: Wandy Rodriguez (-6.5), Randy Wolf (-6.1), and Ryan Dempster (-5.5). Meanwhile, only three pitchers have positive wRAA: Micha Owings (0.4), Carlos Zambrano (0.3), and Mike Hampton (0.3).

The Marlins have the worst hitting staff in the NL while the D-Backs and Phillies have the best – I guess they have to do something to make up for the poor starting. Click here to view a png of the rest of the NL’s placement as of last night.




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11 Responses to “Pitchers and Hitting”

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  1. Bill B. says:

    Surprised that Wolf is hitting so poorly — he was always a threat when he was a Phillie. Not surprising that the Phillies have the best collective hitting corps of pitchers. Cole Hamels in particular can really hit for a pitcher.

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  2. Tom says:

    Is Zambrano’s ISO (.529) a typo?

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  3. Jacob Jackson says:

    Moyer is a two true outcome guy – he only k’s or walks. It’s probably the best approach for him at the plate to simply take 5-7 pitches every at-bat. I can’t imagine him hauling his 46-year-old ass down the line to leg out an infield single.

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    • aweb says:

      I’ve never been sure why more pitchers who can’t hit at all, don’t use this approach. Take, take, don’t swing until two strikes…At least you get 4-5 pitches per plate appearance that way. Someone like Ryan Dempster actually hits the ball too much – he gets only 3 pitches per AB the past couple of years, and doesn’t really strikeout that much for a career .090 hitter (164 Ks in 402 ABs).

      Is it possible that the 10% chance of getting a single is outweighed by simply making the pitcher throw two extra pitches in some situation? It seems unlikely that even a 10% chance at a hit is worth discarding just to make the pitcher throw a few more…but sometimes you have to wonder.

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  4. Michael says:

    Interesting numbers. I’m sad to see my Marlins staff has the worst wRAA in terms of hitting, but watching those guys swing the bat, you’ll never confuse them for Micah Owings.

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  5. JLP says:

    Moyer has more walks than Ichiro!.

    “It’s probably the best approach for him at the plate to simply take 5-7 pitches every at-bat.”

    The same could be said for Yuniesky Betancourt.

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  6. Alireza says:

    I am also surprised about Wolf, because the guy is a decent hitter. Interestingly, Chad Billingsley, a historically bad hitting pitcher has actually been hitting decently with a .240 AVG and .321 OBP.

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  7. I have examined starting pitchers and their hitting before, so I’ll share what I found.

    What I did to examine this is I used the lineup calculator methodology that Baseball Musing uses for their calculator, and calculated what the difference between the average hitting pitcher and a borderline MLB hitter (I used Omar Vizquel’s hitting line for 2008 in my example).

    For my example, I had an average pitcher (which I arbitrarily defined as 4.50 runs allowed) playing for an average scoring team (again 4.50 runs scored per game) with an average hitting pitcher. Then I upped his hitting to borderline MLB position hitter, and calculated the increase in runs scored for that lineup.

    Using Pythagorean, he went from a .500 pitcher (as defined by the 4.50 RA/RS) or 16-16 pitcher (assuming 32 starts and decisions) to a roughly 17-15 pitcher. Thus, any good hitting pitcher can add one win to their team (in general) per season (which results in being two wins over .500) and generally the same to their career record, assuming the bullpen performs OK. Over 10 seasons, that is the difference between a 160-160 record and a 170-150 record for a starter. Over a full season for a team, a team of good hitting pitchers vs a team of average hitting pitchers, but both equal in pitching performance, the average team would be 81-81 while the better hitting pitchers’ team would be roughly 86-76.

    The oddity is that many pitchers were also good hitters when they were in Little League and High School, so I would think there would be more average hitters among pitchers than there appear to be.

    FYI, Livan Hernandez has always prided himself on his hitting and when he was with the Giants, he would create contests/bets with his fellow starters regarding their hitting. So he was like that before coming to the Mets.

    What got me to think of it in this way was when I was examining the AL dominance over the NL in regular season play. What I realized was that while NL pitchers have little advantage over the AL pitchers in NL parks, when they played games in AL parks, the AL team would have a average to good MLB hitter at the DH while the NL team would put their best bench player there, which often is a replacement level (or nearly so) hitter. Using the lineup calculator, I found that (roughly) a large chunk of the AL advantage is probably related to the AL team’s advantage in the DH position. And thus this also applies to the World Series as well, in aggregate.

    Then it was just a slight leap in intuition to wonder what would happen if an NL pitcher was at least as good as the worse hitting position player, which at that time was Omar Viquel on the Giants.

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