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Even the Angels used a position player to pitch

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Now that Mike Scioscia has given in, the Colorado Rockies are the last holdout against the wave of position players pitching.

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Francisco Arcia spent the last decade grinding in the minor leagues before finally getting the call to the majors, and when he made it up, he hit two home runs and drove in 10 runs in his first two games. Tony Gwynn never drove in six runs in a single game; Francisco Arcia did it in his second game in the majors. The odds are excellent that this is what Arcia will always be remembered for.

At least, that’s how the normies will remember him. As a nerd, I’m obligated to remember him for something else. More specifically, as a nerd who has specialized in the position-player-pitching genre over the last several years, Arcia means more to me. For he pitched for the Angels on Sunday, and Mike Scioscia’s team was the last holdout against the position-player-pitching scourge. Now he’s infected. Everyone is infected. It’s over.

This post from four years ago seems quaint. It’s a list of the last position players to pitch for every team, and it included five teams — five! — that hadn’t had a position player pitch for them in the new millennium. Also, look at how excited about the topic I was! So young, so naïve.

One of the holdouts were the Angels, who hadn’t let a position player pitch since Chili Davis in 1993. With Arcia’s scoreless outing, we need to update the list.

This was almost a boring list, but there was one surprise at the top:

The last position player to pitch for each team, as of August 12th, 2018

RockiesTodd Zeile, Sept 14th, 2002
YankeesBrendan Ryan, August 25, 2015
BravesJonny Gomes, August 28, 2015
PiratesErik Kratz, June 21, 2016
Red SoxMitch Moreland, August 25, 2017

TigersAndrew Romine, September 30, 2017
MarlinsBryan Holaday, April 7, 2018
GiantsPablo Sandoval, April 28, 2018
Blue JaysKendrys Morales, May 20, 2018
A’sJake Smolinski, June 13, 2018

PhilliesJesmuel Valentin, June 15, 2018
IndiansBrandon Guyer, June 16, 2018
PadresCory Spangenberg, June 20, 2018
CardinalsGreg Garcia, June 21, 2018
RoyalsDrew Butera, July 7, 2018

NationalsMark Reynolds, July 8, 2018
DiamondbacksAlex Avilia, July 11, 2018
MarinersAndrew Romine, July 12, 2018
AstrosJ.D. Davis, July 22, 2018
CubsVictor Caratini, July 23, 2018

RangersRyan Rua, July 23, 2018
DodgersEnrique Hernandez, July 24, 2018
RaysJesus Sucre, July 27, 2018
MetsJose Reyes, July 31, 2018
OriolesDanny Valencia, August 2, 2018

BrewersErik Kratz, August 2, 2018
White SoxMatt Davidson, August 6, 2018
TwinsMitch Garver, August 6, 2018
RedsPhil Ervin, August 8, 2018
AngelsFrancisco Arcia, August 11, 2018

More than two-thirds of the teams in Major League Baseball have used a position player to pitch since June 13th, which means we’re almost out of mystery and excitement. This is probably the last position-player-pitching article I’ll write for the next few years, unless there’s a development that isn’t, “Boy, there sure are a lot of position players pitching still.”

There is one holdout, though, and that’s the Colorado Rockies. This is amazing, considering that they play in Coors Field, which seems like a likely setting for a team to get blown out. And, indeed, the Rockies have lost by 10 runs or more in 22 different games at Coors Field since Todd Zeile came into pitch. Any one of those games would have been a good spot to use a position player.

Except, 10 runs at Coors Field isn’t the same as 10 runs at AT&T Park. There would be hell to pay if a Rockies manager used a position player to pitch down by 10 runs, only to score 10 runs themselves after the position player pitched poorly. The Rockies feel like they’re never out of a game at Coors, and they’re not wrong. They’ve used a position player to pitch just twice in their history, and one of those happened in a magical game in which the Rockies didn’t have a choice.

This doesn’t explain the 22 losses by 10 runs or more by the Rockies on the road, though. They really weren’t in those games, and they probably should have used a position player to pitch in at least one of them. Perhaps there’s an organizational edict against it.

That list gives you a good sense of the position-player-pitching scourge, because you can see that nearly half the teams in baseball have used one since the All-Star break, and that seems like it was a week ago. We already knew that more position players are pitching than ever before, but the change is still stunning. There were 41 instances of a position player pitching from 1950 to 1979. There have been 53 this season alone, and we still have nearly two more months to go.

It’s not that fun anymore. Here is an incomplete list of the only times I wish to be alerted to a position player pitching now:

  • Sidearmer/submarine pitcher
  • Fastball over 95
  • A Rockies player
  • Yasiel Puig
  • Every last Pablo Sandoval appearance
  • Knuckleballer
  • Anyone with a pitch as nasty as Chris Davis’ changeup
  • Close game/extra innings

I’ll keep adding to that list as I see fit, but, please, don’t wake me for another Erik Kratz outing. Those used to be fun, but now they’re too popular.

[takes long drag off a clove]

I like position players pitching, but only their first two EPs.

At least the Angels are on the list. Now we have the Rockies to look forward to. After that, though, we have Yankees, who last used a position player three years ago, and that doesn’t qualify for a drought. It’ll be over. It’ll be the end of position-player-pitching droughts.

Bless the Rays for using more pitchers in the field, then. This is my new jam, and I implore other teams to start doing this more. It’s only fair. Baseball has lost the fresh, exciting feeling that comes with position players pitching. They owe us something new.

They owe us something, dammit.

This used to be such a fun topic.