By Karli Vezina
Baseball’s got a lot of rules, a lot of innings, and more than a couple of oddities. Just consider for a moment the position players who pitch and pitchers who hit. We don’t see much of switching player positions in other sports but it’s alive and well in Major League Baseball (MLB), for now.
Traditionally, position players are the guys who play as infielder, outfielder, or catcher. While a position player can be capable of pitching if needed, the pitcher remains a pitcher and is generally not used as a position player. Since the purpose of professional sports is for athletes to shine their brightest doing what they do best, it makes sense.
Ben Lindebergh of TheRinger.com thinks these players batting or pitching is a “distracting sideshow” that’s rarely entertaining, aside from the odd miracle like Yermín Mercedes’ home-run off of position-player pitcher Willians Astudillo in May.
The MLB is fully aware that these rules made more sense a long time ago and are no longer serving the sport. MLB aims to get rid of pitcher hitting at the end of this year and is currently reducing the need for position-player pitchers.
With these changes in the works, now may be our only chance to opine on the topic: Which is worse: hitters who are called to pitch, or pitchers who are called to hit?
Lindebergh said the winner for biggest loser would probably be pitchers who hit. Crunching numbers based on 2018-2021 and using data from Baseball Savant, Lindebergh reported pitcher hitters made -. 146 runs per plate appearance which is bad because hitters want to score runs. Position-player pitchers stopped .123 runs per plate appearance, which is bad because pitchers want to prevent runs. For this reason, he said, “while both have been horrendous, pitcher hitters have been horrendouser.”
What do you think Staker? Are you glad to see these changes come or do you enjoy the fish out of water moments on the mound?