Zack Greinke could very well be the best player in baseball that no one is talking about right now. His play, both on the mound and at the plate, has been quietly turning heads in 2019.
Every sport has a particular play(s) that leave fans in disbelief. These plays are both exciting but also shocking to even the most casual of fans. A full court buzzer beater shot or a wide-open missed transition dunk have this effect in basketball. In football, it’s a missed extra point kick or a 300 pound defensive lineman intercepting the ball for a touchdown. That being said, the one play in baseball that makes everyone say “well that wasn’t supposed to happen” is a pitcher getting a hit. Furthermore, a pitcher getting a home run.
Zack Greinke is off to a strong start pitching this year. He is 4-1 with a 3.72 ERA and 39 strikeouts, which is in the top ten in the MLB this year. However, much more impressive is how Greinke is swinging the bat this year. Yes, he doesn’t have as many at-bats as everyday hitters, but his current batting average is a whopping .462. As of today, Greinke is 6-13 with two home runs, four RBI’s, and even his first career triple. How many times have you seen a pitcher get a triple? Wow.
Earlier this year, Greinke became the first pitcher in two years to hit two home runs in one game. The last one to do it was Madison Bumgarner in 2017. Bumgarner’s .185 average pales in comparison to Greinke’s .229. Some others to make the list of excellent hitting pitchers are C.C. Sabathia (.212), Adam Wainwright (.199), and Noah Syndergaard (.181).
Wes Ferrell has the most home runs of any pitcher with 38. A few other notables are Carlos Zambrano with 24 and Bumgarner with 18. Greinke has eight. Some interesting trends that are quite noticeable are that typically the best hitting pitchers are also very good pitchers as well. Usually, the bad pitchers are also bad hitters.
Comparing Greinke with Other Hitters
Surprisingly, Devan Fink of Fangraphs wrote that Zack Greinke is hitting like Barry Bonds to start the season. He’s not wrong. Greinke has slashed .500/.545/1.300 (361 wRC+) in 13 plate appearances this season. During his prime in 2004, Bonds slashed .400/.538/.900.
Also, regarding this season Marcell Ozuna is off to a very hot start, and that is hard to debate. His slash line is .256/.348/.615 (150 wRC+) with eight home runs. Ozuna’s offensive prowess makes up for lackluster fielding, which was seen when miscalculated a fly ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With the return of Shohei Ohtani soon. It’s time to start exploring how valuable a formidable hitting pitcher really is. A pitcher is one of the most important positions in all of sports. Besides Quarterbacks in football, there really isn’t any position that even compares in importance.
A dominant pitcher has full control over the opponent. It’s incredible how much one pitcher can impact the outlook of one team’s season. A lineup can be heavily favored to win with their ace pitcher. However, if they use their fifth-best pitcher, they could be the heavy underdog.
Having a pitcher like Greinke who performs his primary job so well and hit the way he does is an amazing bonus for his team. When Greinke pitches this year, the Diamondbacks have a massive advantage over National League opponents because they have a dominant pitcher and have no weaknesses in their lineups. Good for you Zack Greinke.
Main Photo Embed from Getty Images