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Carlos Zambrano and MLB's Top 10 Hitting Pitchers of the Last 15 Years

Jeffrey SchmidtCorrespondent IIIJune 22, 2011

Carlos Zambrano and MLB's Top 10 Hitting Pitchers of the Last 15 Years

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    When it comes to baseball, pitchers are not known for their hitting. Pitchers don't receive as many opportunities to hit in today's game because of managers increasing the number of relievers throwing more and more innings. Interleague play is the only period of time that AL pitchers have the chance to swing the bat, and NL pitchers hit once every five days, so not much is expected.

    Despite the fact that most pitchers couldn't hit to save their life, there are a select few that can hit a ball in the stands at any time. These guys not only help their team but also help themselves in the process and can mess up the opposing pitcher for the rest of the game.

    Pitchers can sometimes be converted into hitters, however, which is the case for guys such as Rick Ankiel and a few others.

    The following guys on this list could potentially be the next Ankiel, but as of now they're all still pitchers.

10. CC Sabathia

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    The guy only has 100 career at-bats, but he does have three monstrous home runs. The big pitcher has to be intimating to his opposition when he steps up to the plate due to his massive size. CC has hit .250 over his 11-year career with a .627 OPS.

    If he was playing for a National League team, he would be much higher on the list, and I would expect a few more home runs as well. With CC being able to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, it wouldn't be a big surprise if he took his talents over to the NL side.

9. Jason Marquis

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    Since being drafted 35th overall by the Braves back in 1996, Jason Marquis has moved around a lot, but this seems to have no effect on his hitting.

    The 32-year-old pitcher earned a Silver Slugger Award back in 2005, when he posted a .310 batting average to go along with a home run and 10 RBI. Look for Marquis to continue to swing the bat well for years to come.

8. Adam Wainwright

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    For a pitcher, Wainwright hits for power. His five home runs in 301 at-bats is very impressive, and I expect a few more during his career. His batting average has slipped a bit over the past two years, but this is still a guy that should not be taken lightly at the plate.

    Expect Wainwright to move up the list in a few years.

7. Livan Hernandez

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    Livan has had a consistent career as a pitcher, posting a 170-171 record, and has been equally consistent as a hitter.

    The 16-year veteran has cranked out 10 home runs in his career to go along with 82 RBI and has posted a .221 batting average. In 2004, he took home the Silver Slugger, which is awarded to the best hitter at each position.

6. Tom Glavine

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    Few pitchers have hit or pitched better than Tommy Glavine over the past 15 years. The future Hall of Famer won four Silver Sluggers during his career, all with the Atlanta Braves.

    While hitting only one home run, Glavine's hits seemed to come at just the right time for the Braves, and his 90 RBI won them a few games over the years.

5. Yovani Gallardo

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    Yovani Gallardo's career .207 batting average isn’t the most impressive statistic I'll throw your way, but if nine home runs in 205 at-bats isn't, then I don't know what is. In 2010 the young star hit four home runs to go along with 10 RBI and won his first career Silver Slugger Award.

    The pitcher has shown a lot of promise both on the mound and at the plate, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a few more pinch-hit at-bats for him.

4. Dontrelle Willis

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    We all thought Dontrelle Willis was going to be the next great thing in baseball after his 2005 campaign. It turns out he wasn't.

    Willis pitched himself out of the big leagues but proved he was worthy at the plate, posting a .232 average with eight home runs and 35 RBI.

    It's rare we see someone with so much energy and passion, which is why I really hope he makes a solid return to the big leagues.

3. Carlos Zambrano

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    The troubled ace of the Chicago Cubs may have been a nuisance to his team over the years, but he has also been one to opposing pitchers.

    Zambrano has a career .236 batting average with a .632 OPS and has hit an impressive 20 home runs and 47 extra-base hits.

    Baseball's version of Big Z has become one of the most feared hitting pitchers in recent memory and will only continue to be so if he remains in the National League.

2. Micah Owings

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    Micah Owings is by far the best hitting pitcher in baseball today. If his .288 career batting average is not impressive enough, then his nine home runs in 191 at-bats should be.

    If there was a second coming of Rick Ankiel, this guy would be it. He was sent down to the minors last year but has posted a 3-0 record so far this season with a 2.91 ERA, making his future as a pitcher still look promising.

1. Mike Hampton

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    Mike Hampton will go down as one of the best hitting pitchers of all time. Hampton is a five-time Silver Slugger winner and in 2001 hit a career-high seven home runs with the Rockies.

    In 16 seasons, he has posted a .294 batting average and a .650 OPS and even pinch-hit for players during his career. His five Silver Sluggers were won consecutively, and he holds the record for the most by a pitcher.

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