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Carlos Zambrano ties Bob Gibson and Walter Johnson for seventh-most homers by a pitcher

Jun 4, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

Carlos Zambrano beat the Phillies with 7.2 innings of one-run ball yesterday and also homered for the first time since joining the Marlins and the 24th time in his career.

That ties him with Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Walter Johnson for the seventh-most homers by a pitcher in baseball history and Zambrano has hit those 24 homers in just 732 plate appearances, whereas Gibson needed 1,489 and Johnson needed 2,520. On a per-plate appearance basis Zambrano has the third-best homer rate among all pitchers to go deep at least 20 times.

He’s now five homers from tying Don Drysdale for sixth place, but moving up any further than that will be tough. Warren Spahn and Earl Wilson are next with 35 apiece, Red Ruffing has 36, Bob Lemon has 37, and Wes Ferrell is the all-time leader with 38.

Zambrano has shown legitimate 20-homer power if given a chance to play every day for a full season, but his overall production would still be pretty modest for a position player. He’s a career .239 hitter with a .249 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage, which is good for a .640 OPS that would rank 345th among the 376 active non-pitchers with at least 700 plate appearances.

He basically hits like a backup catcher or a utility infielder, which is pretty damn good considering he’s got a 2.81 ERA and .207 opponents’ batting average in 74 innings as a pitcher this season.

  1. danaking - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Could it be Zambrano and Ozzie are the same kind of crazy? Or is it Big Z no longer feels the pressure of having to be the craziest guy in the dugout? This is a hell of a comeback for him.

    • Old Gator - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Now let the snide insinuations about steroids start pouring in.

      There was an episode during yesterday’s game which, I think, points up the temporary transformation in Krazy Karlos’ psyche even more than his restored peetching focus and failure to take down even a plastic bottle of Gatorade so far this season. I don’t remember which inning it was – fairly early in the game, I think – he got a terrific pitch right on the outside corner of the strike zone called a ball and lost a batter (he got the next one anyway and closed out the frame). At the call, he stood there bent over with his hands on his knees staring at the umpire – and cracked a huge, goofy, discernibly wry grin. Then he went back to work.

      If you look at the brain, it appears to the naked eye to be a complete mess. So it should be no surprise, really, that most of the minds that are encased in it should be a mess too. Yet somehow, no less likely a figure than Slobbering Ozzie himself appears to have brought some form of orderliness to Krazy Karlos’ topside. Aye, matey, life is a strange strange thing.

  2. heyblueyoustink - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Blanton should get an assist on the one from yesterday. Right down the pipe to a guy you know can put one out of the park from time to time.

    Nice job Heavy B, nice work.

    • prophet215 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      Blanton has the same motto as Hunter Pence: let’s go eat. He just has a different approach to getting to the buffet table.

  3. aceshigh11 - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Zambrano’s affinity for hitting with power was already evident to anyone who saw the video of him taking a baseball bat to a Gatorade dispenser in the Cubs’ dugout.

    • Old Gator - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Gatorade dispensers, next to Kevin Youkilis’ face, are the ugliest things in baseball. They deserve to die.

  4. raysfan1 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Of course Johnson played in the dead-ball era.

  5. Jonny 5 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Big Z owned the Phillies this game. Beat them all by himself he did.

  6. prophet215 - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Bob Gibson can still pick up his 25th at the age of 76 if somebody signs him to DH against the Phils in Blanton’s next start.

  7. anythingbutyanks - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    He only hit 5 dingers in his carrer, but I can’t remember being more excited to see a pitcher hit a home run than when it was Greg Maddux.

  8. clydeserra - Jun 4, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    He would be the 2nd best batter on the A’s

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