Saturday, July 21, 2012

Missing Yovani Gallardo's bat

This site has long gone on record as hating to watch pitchers hit. It is a fruitless part of the game that usually results in either a strikeout or a lame sacrifice bunt attempt. Yes, call this observer an American League lemming, but the DH is the way to go, especially now with interleague games next year being the norm rather than the exception. But as long as we have pitcher's hitting, then it has always been fun to watch the few that can do it rather well. Zambrano comes to mind as does Strasburg and a few others. One of them has always been Yovani Gallardo. Until this year, that is. What happened to Gallardo's bat?

After Zambrano, Yovani Gallardo was the most likely pitcher in baseball to hit a homer. Heck, he hit four of them in 2010 and had an OPS of .837. In three of his first four full season (not counting 2008 when he only pitched four times), Gallardo has hit over .200 and his lifetime batting average was over .200 entering this season. And then this season happened.

Gallardo is getting paid to pitch. And he is rather good at it. He has a .600+ winning percentage for his career and has always maintained a K/9 rate over nine. So who cares if he can hit? Well, it was a market inequity. In a league where the average pitcher has a pathetic .373 OPS (yes, that is OPS), a pitcher with anything over a .500 OPS is a good thing. Gallardo has walked fifteen times in his career and has twelve doubles and thirty runs batted in to go with those homers.

But those good times are completely gone this season. He has not walked once. He has no homers. He has only two runs batted in. He has one double. In fact, he only has three hits all season in 38 at bats. His OPS for his career was over .600. But this year, it is an embarrassing .184 with the lovely triple slash line of, .079/.079/.105. His bat has turned into my, my, my, my, my Kuroda.

It is an edge the Milwaukee Brewers had as a team and that too is gone. In 2010, Brewers' pitchers batted .210 and had an OPS of .536. In 2011, those figures were .175/.458. Both years were far above the norm for pitchers hitting in the National League. This year? Blech. This year's Brewers' pitchers are batting a combined .108 with an OPS of .283. Pathetic.

The loss of Gallardo's hitting and the Brewers' prowess at the plate is not the reason for the team being a disappointment this season and being eight and a half games behind the Reds. But the loss has taken some of the fun out of what is a bleak landscape of hurlers trying to hit. Chicks aren't the only ones who dig the long ball.

So for comfort, here is a Gallardo highlight reel in better days:

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