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Zack Greinke is hitting .340 (oh, and he also took a shutout into the ninth inning)

Aug 27, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers Getty Images

Not only did Zack Greinke take a shutout into the ninth inning against the Cubs last night to improve to 13-3 with a 2.86 ERA, he also went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a walk at the plate to continue a remarkable season offensively.

Greinke is hitting .340 with a .426 on-base percentage in 59 plate appearances. For some context, Yadier Molina leads the league with a .332 batting average and Joey Votto leads the league with a .438 on-base percentage.

Greinke has an .809 OPS, which is higher than, among other NL hitters, Brandon Phillips, Chase Headley, Ryan Zimmerman, Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez, Jason Heyward, Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier, Adam LaRoche, David Freese, and Pablo Sandoval. Dodgers teammate Adrian Gonzalez is also on that list and in fact Greinke has a higher OPS than every Dodgers hitter except Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, and Scott Van Slyke.

As for pitchers hitting, the last one to get at least 50 plate appearances and post an on-base percentage above Greinke’s current .426 mark was fellow Dodgers star Don Newcombe at .434 in 1958. That was the Dodgers’ first season in Los Angeles and they traded the former MVP and Cy Young winner to the Reds in June.

And here’s the really weird part: Prior to this season Greinke was a career .170 hitter with 23 strikeouts versus three walks in 123 plate appearances, although he did have three homers and five doubles. This year he has the same number of walks (6) as strikeouts (6) and zero homers.

  1. goskinsvt - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    blah blah sample size blah blah….Still pretty impressive.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      Well, he obviously started taking steroids. It’s just like Warren Spahn’s 1958 season. There’s no other explanation.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    I recall an interviewer asking Greinke what makes him (as a pitcher) so tough to hit. Greinke responded that he doesn’t know, and added “I think I could hit me.” At the time I wasn’t quite sure if he was bragging about his hitting or being humble about his pitching. Now we know.

    • bfunk1978 - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM


    • drewsylvania - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      From what I remember, I thought that people used that interview as an indication of Greinke’s (past?) anxiety problems.

    • scottolstad - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      Whenever I hear about Greinke and hitting, I remember the 2009 SI cover story from Joe Posnanski:

      Maybe it was because Greinke never wanted to pitch. He got a kick out of hitting home runs—one of his favorite stories involves a home run derby he won in high school. Greinke only became a fulltime pitcher during his senior year at Apopka (Fla.) High because he was too good not to become one. That season he had an 0.55 ERA, struck out 118 and walked eight, and he was named the Gatorade national high school player of the year.

      It didn’t mean all that much to him, though. Before he even made it to the big leagues, he had told reporters that his first win would be O.K., but that his first home run would be special. It would certainly prove to be memorable, occurring as it did on perhaps the worst pitching day of his life, in June 2005 against Arizona. He gave up 15 hits and 11 runs in just 4 1/3 innings. But on Greinke’s first at bat he hit a long fly ball to the wall in right. In his next at bat Greinke crushed a long home run to left.

      “I remember when he hit that home run, [manager] Buddy [Bell] walked to the top step and looked up at me in the press box with his hands out,” Baird says. “And it was like, You have got to be kidding me.”

      Zack was still Zack, though. Another story: In 2007, when third baseman Alex Gordon was a rookie, he struggled terribly at the start. Before Gordon’s seventh game, Greinke pulled his teammate into the video room and showed him a clip. It was of Greinke hitting his home run. “In case you forgot,” Greinke said, “this is what a home run looks like.” Gordon hit his first big league homer that night.

  3. sdelmonte - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Like I always say, I love seeing pitchers hit. Death to the DH!

    Which, given the stats of the DH in the AL right now, seems to be happening anyway.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      I would love to see pitchers hit, too.

      Here on earth, here’s what they do: (Hint: they strikeout about half the time (12.5 strikeout for every walk) and get a hit (almost always a single) 10 percent of the time.

      • sophiethegreatdane - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        @18thstreet — thanks for providing a little context here. Can’t wait to see 50 more comments holding up Greinke — a clear anomaly — as a reason for banishing the DH in the AL. As if that was just exactly what baseball needs — twice as many guys hitting .112.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        No, man — it’s awesome when they intentionally walk the No. 8 hitter. That’s what baseball is all about.

  4. sleepyirv - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    There’s something annoying when a good hitting pitcher gets stuck in the AL. I want to see a player be used to his full advantage, even if it’s as minor as a pitcher’s hitting.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      He’s not a good hitting pitcher. In 59 plate appearances, he is having a good year as a hitter. That does not make him a good hitter.

      He’s a bad hitter having a lucky streak. Enjoy it (especially if you’re a Dodger fan). But don’t say he’s a good hitter.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        So when may we anoint Zack Greinke as a good hitting pitcher? 3 seasons? Doesn’t seem very fair.

        He practices hitting. He hits the ball hard. You can’t say he’s not a good hitter if you don’t watch him bat.

      • Paul White - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        He’s a bad hitter only by the standards of position players. His career OPS+ of 62 is actually exceptional for a pitcher. If a shortstop posted that mark but provided with his glove a similar amount of run prevention as Greinke does with his arm, he’d be a good everyday player, along the same lines as Pedro Florimon or Alcides Escobar, only with even better defense. During Greinke’s struggles with anxiety disorder, he openly talked about giving up pitching in favor of becoming a position player, because he enjoyed hitting more and was an exceptional prep hitter, good enough that he supposedly warranted being drafted out of high school even if he’d chosen not to pitch. So is .340 probably somewhat lucky? Yes. But is it a complete fluke? No, not really.

      • louderthanwords1 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Sleepyirv never said Greinke was a good hitter he said he was a good hitting pitcher. Lets try reading comprehension 18thstreet. Sleepy is right in that he’s a good hitting pitcher. Since coming to the NL and getting a chance to hit consistently he has improved his average each yr going from 143 to 212 to his current rate of 340. Is he going to bat 340 each yr? Probably not but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him consistently above 250. Also when Zack came out of high school there were a lot of teams scouting him as a hitter not a pitcher.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        He went to the NL three years ago and he’s had 156 plate appearances. That’s not “getting a chance to hit consistently.” That’s 60 plate appearance per year. A baseball season in 6 months.

        10 times a month, he gets a chance to get a hit. So, no, he’s not getting a chance to hit consistently.

      • louderthanwords1 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Sorry I didn’t realize I had to spell everything out for you in detail 18thstreet. Getting a chance to hit consistently as a pitcher. Better? The whole conversation stems from you trying to compare him to a position players stats as opposed to a pitcher who is hitting which once again no one is saying he’s a good hitter or getting a chance to hit consistently as a position player but yes he is a good hitting pitcher and yes he is getting a chance to hit consistently as a pitcher.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2013 at 2:07 PM

        Whatever. If he does this again next year, I’ll eat my hat. There’s no such thing as a pitcher who hits well. Sometimes, they get lucky for a month or two. Jose Iglesias, through 46 at bats, had a batting average of .450 and an OPS of 950.

        It happens. It doesn’t mean that Jose Iglesias or Zach Grienke is a good hitter. It means that cool stuff happens over short periods when you play 162 games in a season.

  5. charlutes - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Quite amazing. Good read. I guess it won’t get any comments cuz it’s not a Calcaterra whine fest.

    • jimeejohnson - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      You don’t get that POS DirtydipweedHarry, which is a HUGE plus.

  6. ptfu - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Even in such a small sample size, Greinke’s hitting has been worth about 1 WAR. It’s a significant contribution to his overall value, as his pitching has been worth about 2 WAR this season.

  7. xjokerz - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Cool. When will the girl nl pick up the dh? As a tiger fan Im not interested in watching Verlander, Sanchez, scherZer, fister or porcello swing a bat. Lol at this story

    • hasbeen5 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Then don’t watch. I don’t get why people complain about it so much. We have 2 leagues, each uses one of the options, we get to see both every night. If you prefer one, watch that one.

  8. nbjays - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    What? He went from a .170 career average to hitting .340 this year?

    Someone’s on the juice!


  9. gallaghedj311 - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I knew Craig wasn’t behind this literature when there were no phillies mentioned regarding who Greinke has higher offensive numbers than…

  10. bigblue86 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I’m going to say what we’re all thinking… He’s obviously on PEDs hahaha

  11. thebullforever - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Greinke was a very good hitter before he became a pitcher. Then he spent his early years in KC where he never had a chance to hit. Only in the last few years since he was on the Brewers and now the Dodgers has he been given consistent chances to hit. Obviously he’s worked on it and its paid off.

  12. aceshigh11 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    So Rain Man is a pretty good hitter, eh?

  13. losanginsight - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    This is to all the intellectuals who try pick apart every story related to the
    Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers (Kobe).

    – The moral of this story is that Greinke is the best hitting pitcher in the MLB right now plus he’s pitching good this year too.

  14. michaelle123 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    what Marcus implied I didn’t know that a stay at home mom able to get paid $4252 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you read …????

  15. henderboy - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:41 AM

    as a dodger fan, I’m concerned. one run in 22 innings is not a world series type of ball club… that being said, this is baseball, and anything can happen. wainwright could have some bad sushi sunday night, and yasiel puig could get the day off. oh well, one out of two isn’t bad. mattingly is a great ball player… the jury is still out on the coaching thing. the truth is, I don’t know shit… I’m just hoping for a dodger miracle.

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