Monday, December 29, 2008

Pulling double-duty

Currently, there have been a grand total of 464 position players who have also pitched in the majors, pulling the ultimate double-duty. And further evidence that the DH is an abomination and needs to go the way of the dinosaur.

Of those 464 players, 385 pitched in 8 games or less. That eliminates the guys who did some mop-up duty, or end-of-season work for a star player, or spot starts in the era of reduced rosters. Of the 79 position players who pitched 9 games or more, 68 played in the 19th century, or didn't make my criteria of 1000 games played and 9 games pitched, or 150 games pitched and 500 games played. There was only 1 player who pitched in exactly 9 games, and he's a Hall of Famer, so that's the cutoff. Hey, its my criteria.

The numbers I'm using are OPS+ plus ERA+ divided by 2. It's not scientific, and definitely not saber-friendly. But it's just for illustration purposes and doesn't mean anything at all.

So here is a list of the 11 men who have pitched semi-regularly or regularly in their careers.

Roger Breshnahan - C
1446 games / 9 pitched
A Hall of Fame catcher who played a minimum of 8 games at every position on the diamond. All 9 of them. Take that Ceasar Tover. In addition to his catching duties, he also pitched 9 games, starting 6 of them, with 3 complete games and 1 shut out. One of the most versatile men to ever play the game. Above average in hitting and pitching.
(126 + 107) 117

Rube Bressler - LF - 1B
1307 games / 105 pitched
Pitched early, and went to the field later, even though his hitting wasn't spectacular. But neither was his pitching. One of the rare Throws: L; Bats: R, players. A member of the 1919 Reds. Average player who got 19 seasons in the majors.
(110 = 81) 96

Ben Chapman - OF
1717 games / 25 pitched
A 4-time All Star OF'er with the Yankees, he missed 3 years during the war. Might have been a Hall of Famer if he hadn't missed the time and would have a lot of those round number career milestones. Plus all those championships with the Yankees. Stole a lot of bases in the 30's when not many were doing it. Did all his pitching in his last 3 years after coming back from the war. Didn't really do well. Good hitter, and bad pitcher.
(114 + 83) 99

Johnny Cooney - CF - RF - 1B
887 games played / 159 pitched
Pitched early, and not badly, but not by the standards of the day. Went to hitting and didn't perform quite as well. Got 20 seasons with his versatility. 7 Shut Outs, 6 Saves, 2 Home Runs, 30 Stolen Bases. An average player.
(86 + 106) 96

Jimmie Foxx - 1B
2190 games / 10 pitched
A Hall of Famer, and maybe the 2nd greatest 1B of all time. Got lost behind Gehrig and Ruth and Greenberg, but he was a monster. Not enough fans know about this guys. Pitched in 10 games, with 9 of them in his last season. But he makes the list. 534 Home Runs and 3 Most Valuable Award's.
(163 + 255) 209

A little skewed obviously, but he was a great one.

Frank Isbell - 1B - 2B - OF
1113 games / 17 pitched
Another one of those versatile players who spent at least 2 games at every position on the diamond. Didn't really hit much and was an average pitcher. Only played 10 seasons.
(89 + 99) 94

Charlie Jamieson - LF
1646 games / 13 pitched
Long time LF'er for the Indians, he put up a couple of decent years, but mostly average. Hit over .300 for his career with some walks, but no power at all. Not a good pitcher, but they gave him several chances to find out.
(101 + 51) 76

Babe Ruth - RF - LF
2273 games / 163 pitched
You've probably heard of this guy. Why do people want to still insist he isn't the greatest player in the history of the game? 'Nuff said.
(207 + 122) 165

Numbers are not skewed.

Cy Seymour - CF
1341 games / 140 pitched
Got some playing time at the end of the 19th century, but not enough to disqualify him from the list. Probably the last of a by-gone era. Good hitter and average pitcher. 25 game winner and a career .300 hitter. Pitched early and moved to CF because of his hitting. See, there was a precedence.
(119 + 100) 110

George Sisler - 1B
2012 games / 24 pitched
Hall of Famer. Good hitter and good pitcher. Second behind Ruth in the double-dipping ability. The saber community is ripping this guy apart and would like to have his Hall membership revoked. C'mon, he's one of only 2 Browns in the Hall. Leave him be.
(124 + 124) 124

Bobby Wallace - SS - 3B
2311 games / 57 pitched
The other Brown in the Hall. An average hitter. A good pitcher early, then moved to Short. Probably a good fielder, which why the switch was done.
(105 + 126) 116

So that's it. 11 men in the history of the game who have either played 1000 games and pitched 9 or more, or pitched over 100 games with 500 played. Not a lot at all.

Some guys who don't make the list.

Lefty O'Doul
Bucky Walters
Bob Lemon

They just didn't get enough games at one or the other to qualify.

Some honorable mentions:

Willie Smith
432 games as an outfielder/first basemen with the Angels and Indians in the '60's, while also getting a chance to pitch in 29 games, mostly in relief. He was a throwback to another era.

Brooks Kieschnick
257 games as an outfielder/pinch hitter, and 74 as a pitcher. The last of a kind. We may never see anyone like him again. A little below average in both.

Special mention to these guys:

Fred Andrus
Hank Lieber
Frank Scheibeck
Frank Selman
Milt Whitehead

They all pitched exactly one game in thier career, getting the start and a complete game.

And my favorite pitcher of all time:

Mario Mendoza

Who got 2 innings in 1977, and posted an ERA+ of 29, which was worse then his career OPS+ of 42.

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