Thank goodness the Braves pitchers can no longer hit!
Yes, I was a traditionalist. I enjoyed having two different leagues, two different set of umpires, two league presidents, two different styles of pitching and two different ways to form a lineup.
Times have changed, however. Interleague play changed things. There is one group of umpires, no longer league presidents and now with the addition of the designated hitter in the National League, everything will be the same.
And I’ve changed, as well. I used to hold out, hoping they’d always allow pitchers to hit in the NL. But the days of seeing pitchers care about what they do at the plate have been replaced with pitchers instead going up to the plate and not having a clue, whaling away at pitches a foot outside just so they could get to the dugout and sit down until they could go back to the mound.
Yes, Mike Foltynewicz changed me. I’ll blame him since we have to assign blame to everything these days. Foltynewicz can’t hit. He gave up trying a few years ago. Folty makes Rick Camp look like Ronald Acuna, Jr., and yes, you must be an old-time Braves fan to get that one.
We won’t have to worry about that anymore. We’ve known it was coming for a while. The COVID-19 season will simply allow it to start a few years earlier than expected. We probably will never see a pitcher hit again.
And considering how pitchers no longer make hitting a priority, I’m good with it.
The time spent in spring training on getting pitchers ready to hit has decreased through the years. They also don’t practice it in the minor leagues. So, what’s the point. It’s simply been a waste of time, and more importantly, a waste of an at bat.
Look at how the Braves pitchers fared last season at the plate:
Bryse Wilson hit .222 – two hits in nine at bats
Max Fried hit .196 – 11 hits in 56 at bats – 4 RBI - Lifetime .169 hitter
Julio Teheran hit .109 – six hits in 55 at bats – 4 RBI - Lifetime .147 hitter
Dallas Keuchel hit .132 – five hits in 38 at bats – 2 RBI
Mike Soroka hit .077 – four hits in 52 at bats – 3 RBI - Lifetime .083 hitter
Mike Foltynewicz hit .057 – two hits in 35 at bats – 1 RBI - Lifetime .070 hitter
Kevin Gausman hit .037 – one hit in 27 at bats
Touki Toussaint hit .000 – zero hits in nine at bats
Sean Newcomb hit .000 – zero hits in eight at bats
Seven other pitchers combined to go – 0-19
So that total offensive numbers for the Braves pitchers in 2019: .101 batting average – 14 RBI – 21 sacrifices – 1 sac fly - 31 hits in 308 at bats
That is awful. Pathetic. Yes, I think we will be okay with Atlanta’s pitchers not being able to hit in 2020.
And here’s what’s even more alarming: it didn’t used to be this bad. Look at the four Atlanta Hall of Famers and how they took hitting seriously:
Tom Glavine hit .185 in his career, with one home run and 90 RBI.
Greg Maddux hit .171 in his career, with five home runs and 84 RBI.
Phil Niekro hit .169 in his career, with seven home runs and 109 RBI.
John Smoltz hit .159 in his career, with five home runs and 61 RBI.
Those are days gone by. Pitchers can’t hit anymore. They won’t hit anymore.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.