The Top 10 Hitting Pitchers Of All Time
More news

The Top 10 Hitting Pitchers Of All Time

Since the American League adopted the designated hitter in the 1960s, pitchers only hit in National League ballparks and the majority of them do not instill fear into their opponents. As always, there are exceptions to the rule and some pitchers have enough power and plate vision to crank it out of the park. Let's dive into baseball history and sifting through decades of statistics...  

Ten Pitchers Who Could Hit

Most people immediately think Babe Ruth when they see this kind of question, but was he really a pitcher? Many would argue he was more of an all-rounder and not an out and out pitcher. The real question is, who were the best hitting pitchers ever.

Either way, he’s not going into the list. We’ve compiled a list of the very best hitting pitchers who could hit dingers. Take a walk through the history of baseball to reveal the best pitchers who could hit.

1. Ken Brett

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ken Brett finished his career with .722 OPS, 10 HR, 42 RBI in 350 PA. More commonly known as “George Brett’s bog brother”, Ken pitched twice in the 1967 World Series at age 18 - still the youngest player to take part in a World Series.

Ken Brett

Ken Brett really wasn’t a very good pitcher. Brett was good enough to warrant being put in the lineup twice to hit ina game he started after the DH rule was instituted, by White Sox manager Paul Richard in 1976.

2. Sloppy Thurston

Born in 1899, Fremont Nebraska, Hollis “Sloppy” Thurston, was a major league pitcher for the Browns, Cubs, White Sox, Senators and Brooklyn Robins between 1923 and 1933. The nickname is ironic, he was very well-groomed and looked after. Sloppy finished his career with .682 OPS, 5 HR, 79 RBI in 698 PA.

Unlike third-place Lee Sweetland, Sloppy was a decent pitcher throughout his career. His best hitting year was 1927, when he hit .315/.351/.467 with four doubles, two triples and two HR for the Sens. Back in 1930, Thurston hit just .200 (10 for 50) with the Dodgers.

3. Les Sweetland

Lester Leo Sweetland, a wonderful name and a pro pitcher in the MLB from 1927 to 1931. He played for the Phillies and Cubs, finishing his career with .679 OPS, 0 HR, 34 RBI in 325 PA.

Les Sweetland

Back in 1930, Sweetland’s 7.71 ERA is the highest in the modern era for a full season. Though he was a failure as a pitcher, he hit 15 doubles in 1929 and had 12 RBI in 89 PA. It’s unusual for a professional player to make it that far, yet unable to play your role, in this case as a pitcher, but Sweetland was special.

4. Jack Scott

Born in Ridgeway California, John William Scott played in the MLB from 1916 to 1929 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.

Jack Scott finished his career .673, 5 HR, 73 RBI in 736 PA. He was someone who should have explored playing another role in the sport. Being kind, his pitching ability was about on par with the standard he should be playing at in the MLB. Though Scott could hit. In 12 years he hit over .300 four times and had a career OBP of .319.

5. Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis, otherwise known as The D-Train, born in Oakland California, he played for the Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds. He finished his career with .665 OPS, 9 HR, 39 RBI in 447 PA.

Willis was lethal with the bat. So much so, that at one point they considered converting him to being an outfielder, giving his woes as a pitcher. Willis had the ability to really pack a punch and send the ball skyward. Fluke? We think not.

6. Carl Mays

Carl Mays pitched for the Red Sox, Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds. He played between 1915-1929, picking up 5 HR during that time. It may not compare these days, but before the Babe Ruth era, this was quite the achievement.

Carl Mays

As a hitter, his highlight year was 1921 when playing for the Yankees. He picked up .343/.365/.434 with 22 RBI. He pitched in four World Series over the years. He threw the only pitch to kill a man, back in 1920 when he hit Ray Chapman in the head. He was known as a truly awful man, with few people having anything good to say about his character.

7. Don Larsen

Born in 1929, in Michigan City, Don James Larsen was the man who threw the only no-hitter in World Series history. The famous perfect game in 1956. Though he wasn’t just good with the ball in hand.

In 1958, he hit .306/.364/.571 in 57 PA with 4 HR and 13 RBI, while getting struck out nine times. Some fairly unbelievable stats from the Indiana man. There are few who have got close and may never be anyone who can replicate the feat.

8. Carlos Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano was otherwise known as “Big Z”. He picked up the nickname after continually smashing the ball as far as he possibly could a batter who liked to put everything into the swing, as he would try to hit 900-foot home runs.

He has 23 home runs, which is the most among all active pitchers. His record stands at .646 OPS, 23 HR, 69 RBI in 708 PA. Back in 2006, he managed to hit six HR, which is just three short of the all-time record for a pitcher, West Ferrell. Zambrano’s OPS would be even higher if he was utilized properly.

9. Claude Hendrix

Born in 1889, the Kansas man was a vital member of the Cubs team back in the day. He finished his career with .640 OPS, 14 HR, 97 RBI in 990 PA. World-beating stats no doubt. He led his team to the World Series in 1919, which is a rarity for Chicago. Hendrix even had a 1.000 World Series batting average 1 for 1, which is an unlikely enough, but it came as a pinch-hitter in the fourth game of the series.

Claude Hendrix

10. Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani is, without doubt, the best of the hitting pitcher in the history of major league baseball (MLB). The young Japanese pitcher is an absolute monster on the field and is one o the most two-way players around.

Ohtani finished the 2019 season with .848 OPS, .925 in 2019, as a hitter. He picked up a really bad injury at the end of 2018 and it took a while for him to come back, but he’s still just 25 and there is a lot to play for in his career. Once touted as the best player in the world, Shohei has all the tools to fulfil the best MLB player.

Baseball Pitchers And Betting Tips 

Hitting pitchers are a small part of modern baseball. Half the league does not let pitchers hit, the other half uses pitchers sparingly. Their main jobs are to advance the runner with a sacrifice bunt or to draw walks. The odd player is capable of hitting, but the majority of pitchers in the National League struggle to hit .200. There is talk of the National League adopting the designated hitter, which would essentially spell the end of hitting pitchers.

When betting on baseball, pitcher matchups have one of, if not the biggest impact on money lines. When Clayton Kershaw is pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the line will reflect it. Some of the best pitchers struggle against certain teams and players, so it would be recommended to spend a bit of time looking at a pitcher splits before wagering any significant money.