Pitchers take note. How often does a team have one player drive in all his team’s runs in a game? Sometimes. How many times does a pitcher hit a home run? Two or three times a year it could happen. What about a pitcher driving in all of his team’s runs hitting only home runs? Now that is something to brag about.
Noah Syndergaard did just that Wednesday night, as he almost single handedly defeated the Los Angeles by a score of 4-3. Syndergaard also threw eight shutout innings, but the big highlights came from his offense, as he belted both a solo shot and a three-run homer.
Pitchers hitting bombs is nothing new or original, but it a feat that always catches the attention of the other team. It is a taboo thing for a pitcher to give up a home run to an opposing pitcher simply because of the rarity and the specialty that a pitcher is supposed to have – PITCHING!
There is a reason why so many pitchers are guaranteed to bunt with runners on base and less than two outs. Their hitting ability is way below par, and not in the golf sense. However, golfing is where most pitchers would rather be than in the batting cage. Just because a team pays a pitcher for the work he does on the mound doesn’t mean he can’t contribute from the batter’s box as well.
Pitchers hit home runs too
The all-time leading home run hitter for pitchers is Wes Ferrell who slugged 38 homers. Other famous names who are among the best long ball hitting pitchers include Bob Lemon (37), Warren Spahn (35), Don Drysdale (29), and Bob Gibson (24). The active leading pitcher in home runs hit is Yovani Gallardo and Madison Bumgarner who are tied with 12 a piece.
Ferrell also holds a record for pitchers with the most single season homers. He belted nine in 1931. No other pitcher has hit more than seven, and the most recent was Rockies’ pitcher Mike Hampton in 2001. Although Ferrell holds the record for career home runs and most home runs in a single season, the record for most home runs in a single game belongs to Jim Tobin of the Boston Braves. He knocked three balls out of the park against the Chicago Cubs in a game back in 1942.
While it is traditional for pitchers to bat ninth in the lineup because of their lack of hitting skills, some managers opt to have their pitcher bat 8th. This strategy is implemented for different reasons depending on which manager you ask, but the main ideas are to minimize pitcher at-bats and to put more runners on base for the top of the lineup.
If a pitcher is a home run threat, who cares whether he hits eighth or ninth? If pitchers are seen as another bat in the lineup, that is a plus in itself. Some pitchers have respectable batting averages, and were good high school or college hitters earlier in their career. Once the paychecks start coming in, those batting cage sessions get shorter and further apart and extra pitching related drills take its place. Granted National League pitchers do need some batting cage time since they have to hit, but American League pitchers have almost no obligation to the cages.
Most Major League pitchers are athletic enough or have enough natural talent to be able to not completely embarrass themselves in the batters box. If they get on base then great. If they hit a home run, then they might have cracked the Sports Center Top 10. If Bartolo Colon can go yard, pitchers everywhere have hope!