There is one main difference between the National League and the American League: the designated hitter, or lack thereof. Pitchers must hit in the National League, and a good hitting pitcher can be very important to some lineups.
There are plenty of decent hitting pitchers in baseball, but I am going to do my best to count down the top five. Rick Ankiel is not on this list, seeing as he has transformed into an outfielder, but if he was still pitching, he would easily be first on this list.
Dontrelle Willis in his career has eight homers, 35 RBI, 10 doubles, five triples and a batting average of .234. Willis should perhaps consider the route of the previously mentioned Rick Ankiel, and consider turning himself into an outfielder or even first baseman.
Willis’s pitching abilities seem to have completely disappeared and I think everyone would enjoy watching his flamboyant personality continue on in baseball.
If Willis were to become a position player, I see his offensive numbers being similar to Ankiel’s—good power numbers and a slightly unimpressive batting average.
CC would likely be first on this list if he hadn’t played nearly his entire career in the American League. Though he's had limited at-bats, Sabathia has posted three career homers, three career doubles, 13 RBI and a batting average of .261.
If he had more at-bats and continued this type of hitting, he would easily be higher up on this list. Perhaps the Yankees should use Sabathia as a DH a few times this year.
Jason Marquis has put up some fairly impressive offensive numbers over his career, including 25 doubles, five bombs, 40 RBI and a batting average of .206.
During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, Marquis had 48 hits (good enough for a .302 batting average), 14 doubles and 19 RBI.
His power numbers aren’t as impressive as some others, but perhaps the most remarkable stat of all is that in both years he had more hits than strikeouts.
(21 compared to 17 in 2004 and 27 compared to just 11 in 2005.)
If Micah Owings had been a major leaguer for more than just two seasons, he would most likely be the runaway winner. In fact, Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin not only used Owings as a pinch hitter on a semi-regular basis, but even used him as a DH in a couple of interleague games.
In his first two seasons, Owings put up five homers, 10 doubles, 21 RBI and a .316 batting average, not to mention an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .899!
Lastly, Owings had one of the best offensive performances ever by a pitcher when he went 4-5 with two homers and six RBI (oh yeah, he also gave up just three hits in seven innings).
Zambrano gets the nod at No. 1 over Owings for two reasons. The first is because he has been in the league for a longer period of time, and the second is because he is a switch hitter.
In his career Zambrano has 19 doubles, 16 jacks, 47 RBI and a respectable .237 batting average. His best offensive season came just last year when he pounded out 28 hits (a .337 batting average), including four doubles, four homers and 14 RBI.
Oddly enough, if these names were considered for best pitching pitchers, Zambrano could arguably be No. 1 there as well.