The Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff led all of baseball with a 3.13 ERA, but it was what they did with a bat that was almost just as impressive. As a unit, the starting staff led the National League in batting average at .176 and finished in second behind the Chicago Cubs with 20 RBI.
Starter Zack Greinke won the NL Silver Slugger Award for pitchers as he hit .328 in 58 plate appearances and Clayton Kershaw got everything started with his game-winning home run against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day. Talking to Lyle Spencer of MLB.com, Greinke talked about how much fun hitting still is for him:
I always wanted to be a hitter, Greinke said. Even when I was drafted, I always wanted to hit. It’s a lot more fun than pitching. You only play once every five days [as a starter], so that gets kind of boring in between starts. I always wanted to hit and play a position every day.
Greinke was drafted as a pitcher, but also a shortstop and his athleticism certainly showed in his inaugural season with the Dodgers. Joining the staff is LA native Dan Haren and he too is savvy at the plate. In his career, the 33-year-old starter is a .215 hitter and since 2005, leads baseball in average and OBP while second in slugging.
Talking to Spencer, Haren talked about how being able to hit as a pitcher can be a huge advantage:
I always try to battle, put the ball in play. I know Zack takes a lot of pride in his hitting, in studying the other pitcher and trying to make something happen. I think it’s a huge advantage if you can get a bunt down, move a runner up, put a ball in play. It might keep you in the game longer if your manager has confidence in your ability to handle the bat.
Greinke, Haren and Kershaw, along with Hyun-Jin Ryu are all capable of cashing in a run or laying down a bunt if needed. The Dodgers figure to be near the top of most statistical categories with their stellar rotation, but their ability to handle the bat makes the lineup that much more intimidating.
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