The Washington Nationals have one of the best pitching staffs in the MLB. But teams and fans often forget they are to be feared at the plate.
The Washington Nationals pitching staff is a group to fear. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark all bring unique talents to a game. As a fan, it’s a blast getting to see them pitch a combined 120 times each season.
But as fans, we often forget their jobs don’t start and end on the pitcher’s mound. Pitchers are hitters too!
Last season, Scherzer edged out Strasburg to claim the title as “Nationals Best Hitting Pitcher.” Scherzer collected ten hits en route to a .161 batting average. He hit his only career home run in what then became the infamous “strained neck” game.
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And make no mistake, Scherzer got all of that baseball. And he hit it right after showing bunt! It’s the epitome of Coach Kent Murphy’s “Never Bunt, Hit Dingers” catchphrase.
Both Scherzer and Strasburg have been reasonably competent hitters throughout their careers. Scherzer is a career .182 hitter, and Strasburg is a career .152 hitter. Scherzer’s 51 career hits edge Strasburg by two. Scherzer’s on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) is also slightly higher at .423 (with Strasburg at .404).
But Strasburg does have a leg up in one area: The hardware. In 2012, Strasburg won the National League’s pitchers Silver Slugger award. He batted .277 with five extra-base hits and seven RBI’s. That season, his batting average was higher than fellow teammates Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche, both of whom received MVP votes.
Gonzalez and Roark, however, did not fare well at the plate. Both pitchers posted a .091 batting average and zero home runs. Gonzalez recorded six hits while Roark recorded five.
Neither pitcher’s career splits get better. However, Gonzalez is tied with Strasburg with three career home runs.
Gonzalez’s most recent home run occurred in 2014 against the Mets, but like his two teammates, he also went yard against the Miami Marlins.
With the way the Marlins have configured their rotation and bullpen, it is likely that the Nationals pitchers will continue to have success against them.
As for the pitchers themselves, it seems Scherzer and Strasburg are geared up for another head-to-head battle. But who will win?
My vote goes to Strasburg. Strasburg’s history of success and slight power boost give him the edge over Scherzer.
As long as Strasburg can stay healthy, he is a favorite to win not only the NL Cy Young but the highly coveted “Nationals Best Hitting Pitcher” award.