Dan's Dugout: Should Pitchers Bat Eighth? • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Should Pitchers Bat Eighth?

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Baseball tradition dictates that pitchers bat ninth.

In the National League and other circuits devoid of the designated hitter, pitchers bat for themselves – or at least try to bat.

Bartolo Colon became a sudden slugger in 2016

Bartolo Colon became a sudden slugger in 2016.

Before he hit he became, at 42, the oldest man to hit his first home run, Bartolo Colon inspired a few laughs with his all-or-nothing swing.

Other pitchers are far better. Madison Bumgarner had five home runs last year, two so far this year, and a career total of 13. Now he and Cubs ace Jake Arrieta are asking to be considered for the Home Run Derby at the San Diego All-Star Game. Noah Syndergaard, with a recent two-homer game, and Adam Wainwright, who just won a game with a pinch-double in the 12th, could make a case too.

Managers have noticed.

In recent seasons, Tony LaRussa often batted the Cardinals pitcher eighth – an idea copied by Fredi Gonzalez and Brian Snitker in Atlanta and occasionally by Joe Maddon in Chicago.

Manager Joe Maddon has innovative ideas

Manager Joe Maddon has innovative ideas

The idea is to place a speedster in the ninth slot, hoping that player will work his way on base ahead of the hitters who top the lineup.

Nearly 50 years ago, Pittsburgh pilot Bobby Bragan thought he had a better idea: he batted his pitcher seventh, reasoning that his normal 1-2 hitters should bat eighth and ninth, thus giving his sluggers more at-bats per game (since their turns came up more often).

Having the pitcher seventh or eighth really only matters the first time around the order. Even if the pitcher is an automatic out, the “table-setters” at the bottom of the lineup can set the stage for rallies later in the game.

At least that’s the theory.

It helps a lot more if the pitcher can hit.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Say what? Since June 21, 2015, Cubs ace Jake Arrieta is 26-2 with a 1.23 earned run average . . .

King Felix has a bad calf that will keep him out of the All-Star Game

King Felix has a bad calf that will keep him out of the All-Star Game

Jose Hernandez (Marlins), another challenger for the Cy Young, is averaging more than 13 strikeouts per nine innings . . .

Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, arguably the American League’s best pitcher, will probably miss the All-Star Game because of a slow-healing calf injury . . .

The AL’s All-Star starter last year, Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, probably won’t make the team this year after becoming the first nine-game loser in the majors . . .

Congratulations to Detroit ace Justin Verlander for winning a game at Yankee Stadium after posting an 0-7 lifetime record there . . .

Ex-Met Michael Fullmer, acquired by Detroit in the Yoenis Cespedes deal last July 31, is making a strong run at AL Rookie of the Year honors . . .

Despite his release by the Chicago White Sox, four-time Gold Glover Jimmy Rollins should find a new home soon . . .

After incurring a seven-game suspension for fighting last year, Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura drew a nine-game ban earlier this month . . .

Nolan Arenado could have an MVP in the near future Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

Nolan Arenado could have an MVP in the near future
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado wants to add an MVP trophy to his Gold Glove; he leads the National League in home runs, runs scored, and runs batted in but is also the NL’s toughest man to strike out . . .

Rockies teammate Trevor Story has his sights set on the Rookie of the Year, thanks to a strong start that placed him first among freshmen in home runs, runs batted in, extra-base hits, total bases, and slugging – not too shabby for a shortstop . . .

Could Big Papi win his first MVP during his final season? The 40-year-old Boston DH leads the American League in on-base percentage, extra-base hits, and runs batted in while ranking among the leaders in batting average and home runs . . .

Ortiz, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Reggie Jackson are the only players with at least 500 homers and three World Series rings . . .

Erstwhile Texas ace Yu Darvish, recovered from Tommy John surgery, gave his club a scare
by leaving a game in the fifth inning with shoulder tightness . . .

With Mark Teixeira becoming more brittle as he ages, the Yankees found a solid sub in Ike Davis, a lefthanded hitter whose dad Ron once pitched for the club, and ordered Triple-A catcher Gary Sanchez to take some grounders at first base . . .

Anybody notice that the Cards beat the Pirates in a 12-inning tilt when pitcher Adam Wainwright hit a

Adam Wainwright swings a solid bat

Adam Wainwright swings a solid bat

pinch-hit, two-run double with two men out? . . .

And speaking of pitchers, both Madison Bumgarner (Giants) and Jake Arrieta (Cubs) want to participate in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby – as hitters . . .

Surprise, surprise: had he hustled out of the box, Yunel Escobar (Angels) would have beaten out a bobbled ground ball and not incurred the wrath of manager Mike Scioscia . . .

Former Yankee Hideki Matsui, now in his second season as a roving minor-league hitting instructor for the team, still plays ball in recreational weekend leagues around the city . . .

Good scouting: the Red Sox draft class of 2011 included current regulars Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Travis Shaw . . .

Since May 1, the best ERA of any pitcher with at least 30 innings pitched is the 0.73 of the much-maligned CC Sabathia (Yankees) . . .

Kansas City still hopes ex-Braves mainstay Kris Medlen (elbow, shoulder) can return to its rotation . . .

That other Missouri team, the St. Louis Cardinals, is so thrilled with rookie Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz that they moved Jhonny Peralta from short to third, Matt Carpenter from third to second, and Kolten Wong from the majors to the minors . . .

First basemen Ryan Howard (Phillies) and Prince Fielder (Rangers) are prime examples of overpaid, overweight, over-the-hill sluggers whose bats have slowed dramatically . . .

It’s about time: Eddie Robinson, the oldest living Yankee at age 95, just made his first Old Timers Day appearance at the stadium . . .

The only consecutive 50-save seasons were posted by Eric Gagne and the still-active Jim Johnson . . .

Ex-Met Ron Hunt holds 50 near and dear to his own heart: he was hit by a pitch a record 50 times while playing for the 1971 Montreal Expos . . .

TBCMelOtt

Mel Ott was ejected twice in one day when he managed the New York Giants.

During the 1946 season, mild-mannered Mel Ott (Giants) was the first manager ejected from both ends of a doubleheader . . .

Great nicknames: Dick (Turk) Farrell and Hal (Skinny) Brown of the Houston Colt .45s combined to blank the Giants, 3-0, in the first Sunday night game – timed to avoid excessive daytime heat before the advent of the Astrodome . . .

Big Papi wears No. 34 as a tribute to the late Kirby Puckett . . .

Versatile Emilio Bonifacio, with more than 20 steals at Triple-A Gwinnett, should be back in the bigs soon, most likely in Atlanta . . .

Since he broke into the majors in 2005, Jeff Francoeur (Braves) ranks first in outfield assists.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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