Thursday, December 06, 2007


The notion the Arizona Diamondbacks might use righty starting pitcher Micah Owings (pictured) as a first baseman does set the mind to racing.

Owings' batter run average (or BRA, and talk about a dead giveaway that a lot most baseball nerds really need a girlfriend) was 23.86 per 100 times at bat.

The D-Backs first basemen collectively had a BRA of 16.99.
Obviously, that is a bit of bunko math since Owings didn't even bat 100 times last season. It's arguable that he hit so well since (a) he's only two years removed from being an everyday player at Tulane University, so there's not as much rust on his hitting skills as there are with most pitchers and (b) teams probably didn't prepare for him the way they do for everyday players.

Still, isn't it fun to think about it happening? It's one of those notions, like a true two-way player in the NFL, a placekicker who actually plays a real position, or a Canadian starring at quarterback in the CFL, that most sports fans will not let die. If you asked 100 sports fans if they would welcome the idea a pitcher who hit well enough to occasionally start a game in the field or as a designated hitter in the American League, probably 85 would say yes.

Then there's a pet idea loosely based on one Roy Blount had in About Three Bricks Shy of a Load for making kicking specialists real football players. Blount suggested that before they be allowed to try a field goal, kickers should have to participate in at least one regular scrimmage play during the quarter.

In baseball, the catch would be that the starting DH would have to be someone who has pitched in a game in the past 10 or 15 days. (He'd also have to bat at least twice before being pinch-hit for.)

Obviously, the Law of Unintended Consequences applies, but the long-term effect is that there would be pitchers who could stay in the major leagues on the basis of their hitting.

It would be a switch, to put it mildly, from watching pitchers with their .083 batting averages take their feeble cuts in the National League, then flipping over to an major league (oops, American League) game and watching the likes of David Ortiz and Frank Thomas, who can do nothing but hit.

It would never happen, since it would create too much uncertainty for managers and GMs, but it's fun to think about while looking out the window at a snowy afternoon.

Who's on first? Maybe Owings (Arizona Republic; via Cobra Brigade and Deadspin)

1 comment:

Tyler King said...

Thomas can also walk. Ha!