Top 10 Slugging Pitchers in the MLB
As a fan of American League teams, I am stripped of the right to see my favourite pitchers dig in at the dish on a regular basis.
Now, this doesn't exactly put a bitter taste in my mouth, as it is usually a good time to go get a beer when a pitcher steps up to the plate.
However, there is an exclusive group of hurlers in the major leagues who have the ability to keep opposing teams' fans on the edge of their seat when they step off the mound.
These are the guys who demand the full attention of the pitcher when they are in the batters box. The guys who can actually capitalize on a hanging curveball, or a misbehaving sinker, and give the opposing pitcher an embarrassing clip on the highlight reels.
These 10 pitchers are among the best at striking the baseball, and are all for helping their own cause when they aren't on the mound.
Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee Brewers
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It was a pleasant surprise to see the way Shaun Marcum fared as a hitter in the National League after spending the first five years of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays of the American League.
While Marcum was able to see some at bats during interleague play in those years, he never enjoyed much success.
In his first season with the Brewers, Marcum has a home run to his name, which happened to come in grand fashion, and has driven in six runs on seven hits. He also gathered two walks in 2011.
While he's obviously not the best pitcher we've ever seen step up to the plate, Marcum has shown that he has value as a hitter in the National League, and I expect his numbers to increase as his time with the Brewers rolls along.
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
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Aside from a brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers, CC Sabathia has spent all of his 11 years as a big league pitcher in the American League.
In 11 seasons split with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, and New York Yankees, Sabathia has hit for a .250 average, with 3 home runs, 25 hits, and 14 RBI.
These numbers don't exactly jump out at you, but seeing as how the extent of his hitting opportunities was confined to interleague play, Sabathia could well be one of the best hitting pitchers in the major leagues if he ever got a chance to play for a National League team.
The talent is definitely there. In a 35-game stint at AAA, Sabathia accounted for 12 hits, with two doubles, two home runs, and seven RBI.
It looks as though the flame-throwing hurler will be with the Yankees for quite a few more years to come, but if he ever makes his way over to the National League, expect CC Sabathia to be one that opposing pitchers will have to pitch to carefully.
Zach Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
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Zach Greinke, while showing at times that he could be one of the most talented pitchers in baseball, has always had a knack for hitting.
Throughout his childhood and high school playing days, Greinke had always wanted to be a hitter. However, you cannot deny the skills he possesses when pitching the ball instead of hitting it, and so pitching was the obvious route to the big leagues for Greinke.
The first seven years of his career playing for an AL team showed limited success for Greinke at the plate. But when he was moved to the Milwaukee Brewers for the start of the 2011 season, he jumped on the opportunity to start taking more at bats.
In 18 games with the Brewers in 2011, Greinke has hit a home run (he only had one in all of his seasons with Kansas City), with six hits and a .194 batting average.
Greinke is another guy who hasn't been able to put up the best offensive numbers, but the potential for him to emerge as one of the best hitting pitchers on a team with two of the other great hitting pitchers is just waiting to be unlocked.
Don't be surprised to see Greinke producing some more solid numbers as he becomes more accustomed to hitting in the National League on a regular basis.
Dontrelle Willis, Cincinnati Reds
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If there is one thing you can rely on Dontrelle Willis to do, it's produce at the plate.
Through nine seasons in the major leagues, split between the Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Cincinnati Reds, Willis has produced quite a stat sheet.
89 hits, with 11 doubles and six triples along with nine home runs and 37 RBI make Dontrelle Willis one of the most threatening pitchers to throw to.
I should mention that his career batting average of .239 is higher than Adam Dunn's in 2011. A weak comparison, granted, but seeing as how Adam Dunn has been one of the best hitters in baseball in the last seven years, it speaks to Willis' talent that he has been able to post a career batting average higher than what an everyday all star hitter has been able to do in 2011.
Jason Marquis, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Jason Marquis has played for National League teams for his entire career, and it's no surprise that he hasn't been shipped to the AL as his bat is as valuable as his arm.
Through 12 seasons, Marquis has racked up 113 hits, with 30 doubles, five home runs, and 53 RBI.
His .193 batting average is nothing to leave your seat about, but 30 doubles on 113 hits is quite demonstrative that Jason Marquis cannot only hit the ball, but he can hit the ball well.
His ability to hit for extra bases makes him one of the most dangerous pitchers at the plate. And with 2011 being among his stronger years with the bat, Marquis looks like he'll be of help to his team's offence for more years to come.
Livan Hernandez, Washington Nationals
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Hernandez has had quite an illustrious career as a pitcher.
However, it's his 16 years of hitting that have him landing on this list.
His 10 home runs and 85 RBI are as impressive as you'll find from a major league pitcher, but his 37 doubles are what have him at number four.
A .222 career hitter, Hernandez has the ability not only to hit—he has 214 of them—but to hit with quite exceptional power.
Spending only 23 games in the American League in 2008 with the Twins, Hernandez is meant to be in the NL, and meant to hit.
Even more impressively, Hernandez accumulated seven RBI and nine hits with a .231 batting average in 2011, proving that he will continue to give pitchers a hard time until he retires.
Mike Hampton, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Although Mike Hampton announced his retirement in March of this year, I feel compelled to include him on this list because he really was a great hitting pitcher.
Hampton had 178 hits in his career, on which he accumulated 16 home runs, with 79 RBI, 22 doubles, five triples and a .246 batting average.
In 2001, with the Colorado Rockies, Hampton hit seven home runs, and had a .291 batting average.
Hampton was one of the best hitting pitchers throughout his entire 16 year career, and in spite of his recent retirement, he still deserves to be recognized for his abilities at the plate.
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers
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Yovani Gallardo is the strongest hitter of Milwaukee's three hot hitting pitchers.
He can do it all, literally.
Gallardo has broken up three 0-0 games with a solo shot home run. In one game in which he pitched a shutout, and got the win, Gallardo gave Milwaukee its only run in the 1-0 victory by way of a home run.
In his five year career, Gallardo has nine home runs, 28 RBI, and 11 walks while hitting .221.
His ability to hit home runs in the clutch is unlike no other pitcher in the major leagues, and so it has earned him the third position on this list.
Micah Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
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Micah Owings is probably the most pure hitting pitcher in the league right now, aside from maybe the man in the number one spot on this list.
His bat is so highly valued by Arizona that he has been used as a pinch hitter and as a DH during interleague play.
Owings has gone yard nine times in his five year career, with 35 RBI, eight walks, and an eye popping .289 batting average.
You can bet that if Owings hadn't made it as a pitcher, he would likely be a valuable hitter in a major league lineup.
His batting average near .300 is demonstrative of his ability to see the ball, and pull the trigger when he gets a pitch he likes. This is a quality of a sound major league hitter, and as probably the smartest hitting pitcher in the game, Owings has positioned himself in the second spot of this list.
Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs
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Big Z is likely the most entertaining player in the major leagues. He's the guy fans love to hate, and the guy Gatorade coolers steer clear of.
One only needs to see one of Zambrano's batting practice sessions on one of the aforementioned Gatorade coolers to know that he can hit.
The burly Carlos Zambrano has arguably been the best hitting pitcher of the decade.
In his 11 year career, Zambrano has hit a very impressive 23 home runs, with 69 RBI and a .241 batting average.
His batting average lacks in comparison to Owings, but the talent in his power swing cannot be denied.
This season, Zambrano hit .318 with two home runs, and 14 hits on the best hitting season of his career.
For so long as his anger streak continues, you can be sure his power stroke won't be going anywhere. Carlos Zambrano will continue to put up strong hitting numbers at the plate while he works to find a little more consistency from the mound.