Using baseball-reference.com, I looked up the best hitting Reds’ pitchers. This goes back through 1901. It’s fairly consistent; the best hitters show up on both career and seasonal lists, as do the worst.

To determine the single season best hitting pitcher, I had to use a minimum to eliminate pure luck, so I went with 20 plate appearances to include Micah Owings who has 21 this year.

Using OPS+, the top 25 single season leaders:
Dolf Luque in 1918 with an OPS+ of 173
Carl Mays in 1927 with an OPS+ of 168
Jim Maloney in 1961, OPS+ of 143
Joe Nuxhall in 1953, OPS+ of 138
Bill Phillips in 1902, OPS+ of 134
Micah Owings in 2009, OPS+ of 133

Using 50 plate appearances in a season:
Joe Nuxhall in 1953, OPS+ of 138
Bill Phillips in 1902, OPS+ of 134
Red Lucas in 1926, OPS+ of 128
Don Newcombe in 1958, OPS+ of 118
Dolf Luque in 1926, OPS+ of 118

Career highest OPS + using 100 or more plate appearances:
Don Newcombe, 233 PA, OPS+ of 97
Red Lucas, 1102 PA, OPS+ of 97
Carl Mays, 273 PA, OPS+ of 88
Jackie Collum, 110 PA, OPS+ of 80
Clarence Mitchell, 219 PA, OPS+ of 79

Career Home Run Leaders as Pitchers:
Joe Nuxhall, 13
Bucky Walters, 8
Jim Maloney, 7
Tom Seaver, 6
Tony Cloninger, 5
Bob Purkey, 5
Pete Donohue, 5
Dolf Luque, 5
Pete Schneider, 5

Career Batting Average, 100 plate appearances:
Red Lucas, 1102 PA, .300 BA
Don Newcombe, 233 PA, .289
Carl Mays, 273 PA, .277
Jackie Collum, 110 PA, .258
Ray Fisher, 140 PA, .256

The bottom five in career Batting Average? (100 plate appearances)
Wayne Simpson, 159 PA, .069
Billy McCool, 103 PA, .073
Jose Acevedo, 109 PA, .075
Andy Coakley, 178 PA, .081
Aaron Harang, 399 PA, .082

The bottom five in career OPS+ (100 plate appearances)
Aaron Harang, 399 PA, -52
Wayne Simpson, 159 PA, -50
BIlly McCool, 103 PA, -48
Jose Acevedo, 109 PA, -45
Kent Peterson, 113 PA, -42

7 Responses

  1. jinaz

    I’ve wondered at times whether I should be including hitting in pitcher value estimates, and Harang’s one of the reasons I’ve been worried about it. You don’t expect your pitcher to hit particularly well, but Harang’s historically been so dreadful it might actually warrant a penalty to his value. The opposite is probably true, of course, for Owings. -j

  2. mike

    a few more #s.

    Runs Created Above Positional Average for Reds pitchers
    RCAP RCAP
    1 Red Lucas 85
    2 Tony Mullane 62
    3 Bucky Walters 41
    4 Tom Parrott 36
    5 Dolf Luque 30
    6 Elmer Smith 23
    T7 Jim Maloney 22
    T7 Don Newcombe 22
    9 Carl Mays 18
    10 Benny Frey 16

    and the worst of the bunch
    RCAP RCAP
    1 Billy Rhines -31
    2 Lee Viau -27
    3 Si Johnson -15
    4 Paul Derringer -14
    5 Gus Shallix -13
    T6 Jim O’Toole -12
    T6 Fred Toney -12
    T6 Ken Raffensberger -12
    9 Larry McKeon -11
    T10 Eppa Rixey -9
    T10 Frank Dwyer -9

    I find it interesting that most of the worst AND best hitters are from the past. I think it’s because they pitched more often and had more PA which caused them to be more exposed as either a good or bad hitter.

    Now…in recent years
    best
    RCAP RCAP
    1 Micah Owings 2
    T2 Brett Tomko 1
    T2 Elmer Dessens 1
    T2 Bronson Arroyo 1
    T2 Kent Mercker 1

    worst
    RCAP RCAP
    1 Aaron Harang -7
    2 Ron Villone -3
    T3 Edinson Volquez -2
    T3 Matt Belisle -2
    T5 Ryan Dempster -1
    T5 Brian Moehler -1
    T5 Johnny Cueto -1
    T5 Kyle Lohse -1
    T5 John Bale -1

    jinaz I think Harang’s “pitcher value estimate” has to take a small hit because he is SOOO much worse than your average pitcher when it comes to hitting.

    I still think the impact is small but there is an impact

  3. Jared

    From my no-nothing position, I’d say based on that Harang’s bat is good for 1 or 2 losses on the season? I’ll take it, but man is it painful to watch him bat.

  4. preach

    No wonder Nuxy always said you are dangerous with a swinging bat. I didn’t realize he was such a respectable hitter.

  5. jinaz

    2 losses would be ~20 runs, which seems very high to me. Overall, I had a typical pitching staff’s hitting contribution to be ~40 runs below average for all MLB hitters per season last year. And that’s vs. MLB average, not MLB pitcher-as-hitter average. I don’t think we’re talking more than a few runs per season penalty. Owings might get a bigger boost than that (5-8 runs?), simply because he’s (at least historically been) so vastly superior to most other pitchers at the plate. Probably worth incorporating at some point…
    -j

  6. Chris

    I think Prospectus looked at Harang’s hitting a few years back – the year he was 2 for 74, I believe. That sort of futility had a significant effect on his value, as I recall.