Your Handy Guide To Pitchers As Hitters

CHICAGO, IL: Casey McGehee #14 of the Milwaukee Brewers greets teammate Yovani Gallardo #49 after Gallardo scored a run in the 4th inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Pitchers tend to be bad hitters. However, there are varieties of the bad hitters they tend to be, and here we go over them one by one.

Whether you're a fan of the National League, American League, or even an individual team, you and the rest of us have to deal with the reality of pitchers hitting at least some of the time. It's a part of the game, and it's a part of the game that -- regrettably or unregrettably -- isn't going away any time soon.

Pitchers are bad hitters. This is an inarguable fact. And pitchers ought to be bad hitters. A pitcher's job is to pitch, so if I saw a pitcher who was actually a good hitter, I'd wonder why he didn't spend more of his time getting better at pitching. But no matter how bad a pitcher is at hitting, eventually he's going to have to come to the plate. If he's a starter, at least. There's just no getting around it.

Sometimes watching a pitcher hit can be kind of fun. Sometimes it's the worst thing in the world. So much of it depends on the situation. But so much of it also depends on the pitcher, and who he is as a hitter. An interesting thing I've noticed is that, while all pitchers are individuals, they tend to fall into a handful of groups with regard to batting styles and skillsets, spanning a range in productivity and entertainment value. Below I have taken the liberty of identifying these groups, complete with example .gifs. While I could be wrong, I don't think I'm leaving anybody out.

The Hopeful-Observers
Pitchers are bad hitters. But they're also pitchers, and they understand that sometimes it's hard for a pitcher to throw strikes, and that it helps when a batter swings at balls. So these pitchers decide they're not going to help by swinging at balls, and while they're at it they're also not going to swing at anything unless they absolutely have to. What good could swinging do? Their swings are terrible!

Example:

Cabreranoswing

*****

The Pepper-Players
These pitchers understand that there's no point to their swinging hard, because they're just going to miss. At the same time, though, they don't want to just stand there and take pitches and strike out, because a strikeout is a waste of an at-bat. So they try to swing lightly and just put the ball in play, because you never know what might happen when you put the ball in play. Make the defense do the work, that's what their junior-high coaches always said.

Example:

Zitoswing

*****

The Over-Aggressive-Back-Tweakers
These pitchers have the same batting approach as any 12-year-old who just got a new baseball video game. All power swings, all the time, no matter what the pitch or where it's going. Eventually you'll connect, and what a feeling that would be!

Example:

Pinedaswing

*****

The Really-Old-Guys
These pitchers are at least 40 years old and don't so much swing as they sigh the bat in a vaguely circular motion. These pitchers are usually Jamie Moyer.

Example:

Moyerswing

*****

The Somewhat-Competents
These are the pitchers who have some idea of what they're actually doing. These pitchers are usually described by fans as being "good hitters," while what the fans mean is that they're "good hitters for pitchers," which means they're still bad. But they are less bad than the others, allowing for some shred of hope that they might come through with a knock. When facing these pitchers at the plate, the pitchers on the mound might actually have to think a little.

Example:

Gallardoswing

*****

The Relievers
A rare thrill for fans, a reliever might bat once a year, or once every two years. A reliever's batting style is best described as the style you'd expect of a guy who just discovered teleportation and accidentally teleported from the lab to the batter's box. Their approach is the absence of any approach whatsoever, and their at-bats tend to span three to five pitches of absolute confusion.

Example:

Affeldtswing

*****

The Literally-Can't-Do-Anythings
Finally, we have what some might consider a subgroup, but a group I think stands out on its own. These are the pitchers who might be trying their damndest, and who might try any approach in any given plate appearance out of desperation, but God bless them, they can't even lay down a simple bunt. They can't do anything, anything at all, and the only silver lining is that everybody else gets to feel extra great about themselves.

Example:

Garzabunt

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