Lindbergh: Let’s stop pretending that pitchers can hit

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer on June 7, 2018:

When Giants rookie pitcher Andrew Suarez comes to the plate this season, Bay Area broadcasters regularly regale listeners with the story of how poorly prepared he is for a difficult task that’s strangely still part of his job.

In the bottom of the fourth inning on May 16, with the Giants down by a run, Dave Flemming set the scene on KNBR by observing that Suarez “has not hit since middle school until very recently—almost never hit in the minor leagues, did not hit in college, and didn’t hit even in high school. His high school had him specialize as a pitcher.” After Suarez fouled off a few offerings from Matt Harvey (who’s hitless in his own at-bats this season), Flemming continued, “Suarez is having a competitive at-bat here, trying to learn to hit again on the fly. Not easy.” In the end, Suarez struck out looking, although it took seven pitches. “Suarez at least made Harvey work for it,” Flemming said.

Ten days before that, in the top of the fourth, Suarez came up with two runners on and tried to bunt them over. “We did ask him if he could hit, and he said, ‘I cannot hit,’” Duane Kuiper reported on the radio as Suarez squared away. “I said, ‘Well, why not?’ and he said, ‘Well, I haven’t hit since the eighth grade. … Where I’m from, if you were a pitcher, they didn’t let you hit.’” Suarez did get the bunt down for his only successful sacrifice this season, and Kuiper called it as if the 25-year-old lefty had just dropped down the bunt heard ’round the world.

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Originally published: June 7, 2018. Last Updated: June 7, 2018.