clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

In the early 2021 going, pitchers are still lousy hitters

New, 68 comments

And this isn’t going to change.

Jake Arrieta batting during spring training. This at-bat resulted in a strikeout
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

No, I’m not going to stop beating this drum.

And no, it’s not impossible that MLB’s moguls will finally realize that they need to do the right thing and institute the universal DH — even in the middle of the 2021 season. There’s no reason not to do it.

Pitchers, who have been terrible hitters for decades, have begun 2021 even worse than usual.

Through Thursday’s games, pitchers are hitting .119/.133/.166 (20-for-168) with 95 strikeouts. There have been a total of 186 pitcher plate appearances, so pitchers have struck out in 51.1 percent of those PA, a significant increase over the 43.5 percent of PA that resulted in a pitcher strikeout the last time pitchers batted in 2019.

One of those pitchers is Shohei Ohtani, who is an exception to just about any “pitchers batting” rule. Ohtani batted in one game as a pitcher this year and went 1-for-3, the hit being a home run. So taking Ohtani’s numbers out of the pitcher numbers above, other MLB pitchers have hit .115/.130/.145.

Granted, we are talking about a small sample size here, same as for any numbers this early in the season. I suppose it’s possible that pitchers could go on a hitting tear and bring those numbers... all the way up to the .128/.159/.163 they hit in 2019.

When the Cubs played the Brewers Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, it was almost as if they had two pitchers in the lineup when Tony Wolters started at catcher. Wolters, a decent defensive catcher, is a terrible hitter. He did manage to draw a walk in the game, but having Wolters and the pitcher in the lineup was one of the biggest reasons the Cubs got no-hit through six innings and had only three hits in the entire game.

Cubs pitchers are major contributors to those horrid pitcher batting numbers so far in 2021. They are 0-for-10 with nine strikeouts. The only Cubs pitcher who has an at-bat this season that did not result in a strikeout is Adbert Alzolay, who grounded out in his only plate appearance last Tuesday.

Enough already. It’s painful to watch. Please, Rob Manfred and MLB owners — stop holding the universal DH hostage to something you want from players. Just institute it now. Spare us these awful plate appearances.