Yovani Gallardo is the best-hitting pitcher in Milwaukee Brewers history.
This is only the 13th season in which the Brewers have played in the National League, so that probably doesn’t seem very impressive. It’s probably not that surprising, either, if you remember just how many horrible hitters the Brewers have had to deal with in the 9th spot of the order (none worse than Ben Sheets). But if you look at the best pitcher batting lines in club history, it’s pretty clear he stands out.
If you look around the web, you’ll find a lot of articles about just how much Gallardo increases his value with his offense. Specifically, Jack Moore at Disciples of Uecker recently took a look at just how many games Gallardo has essentially won by himself this season. Last night was no exception, as he drove in a pair of runs and had some of his best stuff of the season on the mound.
After last night, Gallardo is now hitting .262/.338/.525 this season, good for an OPS of .863 and OPS+ of 131. It’s derived from a much smaller sample size, but that OPS+ ranks fourth on the team behind Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart. To truly appreciate how good this season has been, you have to take a look at the best batting lines from Brewers pitchers since the team moved to the NL:
Gallardo, 2009: .172/.197/.310 (.507 OPS, 33 OPS+)
Manny Parra, 2008: .226/.255/.358 (.613 OPS, 90 OPS+)
Gallardo, 2007: .250/.268/.475 (.743, 87 OPS+)
Dave Bush, 2006: .177/.190/.226 (.416 OPS, 6 OPS+)
Chris Capuano, 2005: .169/.189/.211 (.400 OPS, 5 OPS+)
Brooks Kieschnick, 2004: .270/.324/.365 (.689 OPS, 78 OPS+)
Glendon Rusch, 2003: .206/.270/.206 (.476 OPS, 28 OPS+)
Rusch, 2002: .288/.299/.333 (.632 OPS, 68 OPS+)
Jamey Wright, 2001: .194/.229/.209 (.438 OPS, 16 OPS+)
Jason Bere, 2000: .205/.205/.256 (.462 OPS, 17 OPS+)
Scott Karl, 1999: .183/.219/.317 (.535 OPS, 34 OPS+)
Brad Woodall, 1998: .237/.310/.342 (.652 OPS, 72 OPS+)
Not only will Gallardo be the only Brewers pitcher in history to top the 100 OPS+ mark, but he’ll beat out Kieschnick’s 2004, which I think is the most impressive part of this season. Kieschnick was a ringer when it comes to pitchers hitting — he was an outfielder first, only pitched as a reliever, and was frequently a pinch-hitter.
There are some other surprisingly-not-sucky seasons on that list, but for the most part, Gallardo is by far the best hitter on the list. If it wasn’t for his ACL injury in 2008, this would likely be his fourth straight season of leading the team’s pitching staff at the plate. Off hand, I don’t know how many other pitchers in the NL have done this, but I’d be willing to guess Carlos Zambrano and maybe Dontrelle Willis. That’s it.