Keri: Madison Bumgarner and the rapid decline of the hitting pitcher

From Jonah Keri at Grantland on September 2, 2015:

Last night’s Giants-Dodgers game provided plenty of intrigue: The teams are bitter rivals, the Giants desperately needed a win to cut down the Dodgers’ 4.5-game lead in the division, and the two guys who took the mound are both among the 10 best pitchers in baseball. They combined for three earned runs and 13 strikeouts over 14.1 innings as the Dodgers came out on top, 2-1, but not only are Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner bona fide Cy Young contenders; they’re also two of the best hitting pitchers in the game.

Granted, Greinke’s offensive numbers are down sharply from 2013, when he hit a terrific .328 and posted a sky-high .409 on-base percentage. Still, even after an 0-for-3 performance last night, he’s batting .207/.217/.328 this year, better than any starter except Tyson Ross and Bumgarner.

Despite Greinke’s best efforts both at the plate and on the mound last night, Bumgarner stands out as the undisputed king of #PitchersWhoRake. Bumgarner joined the long list of hitters who’ve gone down quietly against Greinke, going 0-for-2 last night. But his batting line still stands at .254/.277/.508 this year, putting him in elite company. Among pitchers with 50 or more plate appearances in a season during the DH era, Bumgarner’s 2015 line places him 14th in park- and league-adjusted offense. And while he didn’t homer last night, Bumgarner’s five round-trippers this year rank fourth among pitchers in a single season since 1973.

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Originally published: September 3, 2015. Last Updated: September 3, 2015.