As fun as the sight of pitchers hitting can be, the #PitchersWhoRake hashtag is going on break for 2020.
At least for this season, the implementation of a universal DH means teams won’t have to worry about the disasters which come with pitchers hitting and running the bases.
If this is the true end of pitchers stepping up to the plate, now is the perfect time to see what pitcher had the lowest batting average in MLB history.
MLB pitchers won’t hit too often in 2020
In a normal world, the idea of a universal DH and pitchers only sticking to their normal job of pitching would stay the same.
The coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in those plans. Assuming the 2020 MLB season goes as planned, there will be a universal DH and pitchers will only hit in rare occasions.
Even then, larger rosters and revised extra-inning rules should erase the need for a pitcher hitting in the 15th inning. Whether or not the Arizona Diamondbacks want Madison Bumgarner to take swings as a designated hitter one day is up to them.
The universal DH isn’t entirely new to baseball. The All-Star Game hasn’t had pitchers hit for years.
World Series games in the 1970s and 1980s traded DH-rules depending on the year, not the ballpark. The 1977 World Series, for example, had pitchers hit at both Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium.
When the two teams rematched a year later, the DH appeared in both stadiums. Future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was the Yankees’ designated hitter in the deciding Game 6 victory.
It is not yet known if a universal DH will be implemented in 2021 and beyond.
Most MLB pitchers struggle at the plate
Memorable moments like Bartolo Colon’s home run in 2016 or Madison Bumgarner’s two-home run game on Opening Day in 2017 easily change the narrative about pitchers hitting.
Those highlights are the exception to the norm. The majority of pitchers struggle at the plate and those at-bats often end in ugly strikeouts or sacrifice bunts.
Although Bumgarner has 19 home runs to his name, he’s a career .177 hitter with 255 strikeouts in 594 at-bats.
What pitcher had the lowest batting average in MLB history?
There are some bad-hitting pitchers among those still active entering the 2020 season. Cubs ace Jon Lester leads that group with an excellent .107 career average, although Lester has at least homered in each of the last three seasons.
Braves All-Star Mike Foltynewicz has a .070 average in six seasons, which is the worst among active pitchers with a minimum of 200 plate appearances.
Foltynewicz is only eighth-worst among pitchers all-time, though. The Athletic recently discovered that Ron Herbel a relief pitcher for the Giants in the 1960s, holds the title of worst hitting pitcher.
Herbel had six hits in 206 at-bats, which amounted to a wonderful .029 average. Unfortuntely, none of those six hits left the park. Herbel’s best hitting campaign was a 3-for-28 showing (a .107 average) in 1967.
The idea of Bartolo Colon returning and hitting another home run is an appealing thought for baseball fans. But a glance at Herbel’s stats or Colon’s swings is a reminder of what fans likely won’t miss with the universal DH.