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From Yusmeiro To Micah: Diamondbacks Pitchers As Hitters

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PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 24: Micah Owings bats against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 7-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 24: Micah Owings bats against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 7-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As mentioned by Craig from AZ in his Fanshot a little while, Jeff Sullivan looked at Randy Johnson hitting, pointing out he was one of the worst-hitting pitchers of all time - and also often looked particularly bad at the plate. Doug Davis also came into the conversation because a) his career OPS+ was worse the Johnson, and) the Big Unit's sole home-run came off Double-D. Both, of course, played for the Diamondbacks - though particularly of late, Arizona has also had some good - even spectacularly good - hitting pitchers. Let's take a look at both ends of the spectrum. All numbers reflect only games played for Arizona, unless otherwise stated.

Which end of the bat do I hold?
Grand champion: Matt Mantei - 178 games, zero plate appearances.
Honorable mentions: Juan Gutierrez (143 games), Mike Myers (133), Doug Slaten (126).
If you want to avoid looking bad in the box, be a relief pitcher. Managers would rather gnaw off their own limb than give a bullpen guy an at-bat. This is what the double-switch was invented for, to make sure a bullpen arm stayed as far from the on-deck circle as possible. These guys proved particularly adept at it. LOOGYs like Myers and Slaten have an obvious leg-up here, since they often don't make it through an inning in the field. Slaten has now accumulated 206 career games in the NL without a PA, which is tops among active players. Current closer J.J. Putz is now at 457 for his career, albeit mostly in the AL, which is second behind Jason Frasor's 475.

Hitting? It's vastly over-rated...
Grand champion: Jose Valverde - 1.000 BA, 1.000 OBP, 2.000 SLG
Honorable mentions: Vincente Padilla, Brandon Lyon, Alan Embree (all 1.000 OBP).
All four men got one PA in their time with Arizona, and were successful in reaching first-base. Valverde went further on September 20, 2003, doubling off Leo Estrella and scoring in the top of the ninth - he'd come in for a five-run save with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, striking out Rickie Weeks. However, he struck out in his second PA, after going to Houston. Props to Lyon and Embree for drawing a walk. Lyon did so off Aaron Sele in the 15th inning of a 2006 game against LA, and scored the winning run on Orlando Hudson's walk-off homer. Lyon also doubled this year for the Astros, making him 1-for-1 with a walk, lifetime.

If at first you don't succeed... Fail, fail and fail again
Grand champion: Geraldo Guzman - 0-for-20, .000 OPS, 14 strikeouts
Honorable mention: Armando Galarraga (0-for-15, 7 K)

These are the only two to have more than ten PA's in their D-backs career without reaching base successfully - though, as we'll see, there have been some lengthier runs. Guzman was part of the 2000 rotation, and went 5-3 as a starter, despite an ERA above five in that role. That'd be because he got 38 runs of support in those five wins, but he clearly wasn't helping himself at the plate. And, hey, look! Armando didn't just suck on the mound or when dealing with reporters, he was also spectacularly inept at the plate. He did, however, manage to drive in a run, with an RBI groundout in his second start.

Will it ever end? [Bad Division]
Grand champion: Yusmeiro Petit - 0-for-37
Honorable mention: Rodrigo Lopez - 0-for-33

The longest streak of futility belongs to Petit who went more than two years between games in which he reached base safely. After singling off Jo Jo Reyes in July 2007, his next time on first was not until August 2009 when he drew a four-pitch walk off Evan Meek of the Pirates. It was his fourth at-bat of the game, and was quite one to remember for Yusmeiro, as he also took a no-hitter into the eighth that day. Lopez's streak was impressive for the number of times he took his bat back with him: the 33 ABs included 24 strikeouts. Both fell well short of what seems to be the record, Bob Friend of Pittsburgh passed 70 consecutive ABs in the 1964-65 seasons without reaching.

Will it ever end? [Good Division]
Grand champion: Dan Haren - seven game hitting streak
Honorable mentions: Barry Enright, Haren, Johnson, Omar Daal
- five games
How rate is a seven game hitting streak for a pitcher? There have been only three longer since 1993, and two of those were by Colorado pitchers - Mike Hampton (2002) and Pedro Astacio (1999) both went eight games. The other was Carlos Zambrano's 13-game streak in 2008, not matched in over 60 years. Haren's streak was epic: three of the seven were multi-hit outings, and he went 10-for-21 with a home-run, three doubles and six RBI. Random factoid: in four years and 424 games for AZ, Augie Ojeda never had a seven-game hitting streak. And yep, despite Jeff's mockery, the Big Unit went 6-for-17 with four runs driven in during five games in 2000.

Lifetime Achievement Award [Both ends]
Master of his batting domain: Micah Owings, .827 OPS
Honorable mentions: Haren (.667), Daniel Hudson (.597)
God-emperor of plateage suck: Petit, .088 OPS

Dishonorable mentions: Juan Cruz (.115), Lopez (.183).

If we draw the cut-off line at 25 PAs for the D-backs (and exclude occasional pitchers like Mark Grace), we get a total of 43 pitchers who have had a chance to show their worth with the lumber. Neither Johnson nor Davis show up as particularly poor: Randy ranks almost in the middle, at #23 (just behind Curt Schilling) with a .326 OPS, while Doug Davis is #30 with .245, which would rank as poor, rather than utterly dreadful. The full list can be seen here: the top and bottom five all time for Arizona are below:

1 Micah Owings .827 141 2007 2011 131 18 39 5 19 7 45 .298 .331 .496
2 Dan Haren .667 229 2008 2010 204 22 54 2 23 7 46 .265 .285 .382
3 Daniel Hudson .597 110 2010 2011 92 6 22 1 20 3 28 .239 .271 .326
4 Enrique Gonzalez .594 35 2006 2007 32 3 9 0 3 0 8 .281 .281 .313
5 Javier Vazquez .574 72 2005 2005 63 2 15 1 2 3 10 .238 .273 .302
39 Andrew Good .186 26 2003 2004 21 0 2 0 2 0 7 .095 .091 .095
40 Willie Blair .185 53 1998 1998 48 3 4 0 0 1 26 .083 .102 .083
41 Rodrigo Lopez .183 72 2010 2010 64 2 5 0 1 1 35 .078 .104 .078
42 Juan Cruz .115 28 2006 2008 23 0 0 0 0 3 11 .000 .115 .000
43 Yusmeiro Petit .088 61 2007 2009 56 2 2 0 0 1 23 .036 .053 .036

It's worth stressing how freaking awesome Micah was. Andruw Jones - a position player who might make it to Cooperstown - has a career OPS of .827. Dan Uggla is at .824. Hell, Owings currently has a better career OPS than Mark Reynolds. But Hudson is also performing very respectably. His .679 career OPS is second among active pitchers with 50+ PAs, behind Owings; Dontrelle Willis, Yovanni Gallardo and Zambrano round out the top five. There's an Arizona connection second from bottom of the list, where Aaron Heilman has one hit in 54 PAs. That's the same as last-placed Rick VandenHurk, but Heilman has an extra walk.