Madison Bumgarner Could Bat Clean-Up for the San Diego Padres
At this point in his career, it's admittedly a bit boring to talk about how dope Madison Bumgarner is as a pitcher. He almost single-handedly won a World Series a few years ago, and his career ERA is below 3.00. Yada, yada, yada. He's good. We get it.
But his abilities as a hitter? Those will never get old.
Madison Bumgarner helping himself! #Giants #MLB pic.twitter.com/rUNcnnIGlk
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) May 23, 2016
It's a whole lot easier to swallow the whole "pitcher wins" statistic when the pitcher legitimately has to do everything himself. That was Bumgarner on Sunday, driving home the only run of the game as the San Francisco Giants defeated the mighty Chicago Cubs, 1-0. The win gave the Giants a series victory, and it was their 10th win in the past 11 games.
It might not have happened without the bad man with the ball-crushing plan.
Driving in the only run in a game you win obviously isn't a common feat, as Bumgarner became only the second pitcher to do so this year. The other? That would be his fellow lefty down south, Clayton Kershaw.
Madison Bumgarner joins Clayton Kershaw as only pitchers this year to win 1-0 game in which they drove in only run. pic.twitter.com/0VL5ElkwHl
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 23, 2016
Now, you may think that this would put MadBum and Kershaw on equal footing when it comes to their stick skills. That would be correct if Bumgarner hadn't done his old friend so dirty earlier in the year.
Buster Posey's good friend Madison Bumgarner homered off of Clayton Kershaw...again. (via @MLB) https://t.co/rN0Kler5HG
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) April 9, 2016
Bumgarner is one of only 18 players with multiple career dingers off of Kershaw. Kershaw is 3-for-20 with no long balls, no walks, and 8 strikeouts when facing Bumgarner. I think we know who wins this contest.
Kershaw shouldn't feel bad for falling short against a guy like Bumgarner, though. Most pitchers do, and Bumgarner's feats actually exceed those of some entire teams.
Since the start of the 2014 season, Bumgarner has recorded 187 plate appearances in total. He has turned that into a .237/.270/.444 slash with a 28.8% hard-hit rate and 25.6% home run to fly-ball ratio. If we were to compare him to all 30 MLB teams over that same span, here's how he'd rank in some of those categories.
|Category||Slugging Percentage||Hard-Hit Rate||Soft-Hit Rate||HR/FB Ratio|
When you're excelling in categories such as slugging percentage -- which take his 36.4% strikeout rate into account -- you know you're doing something right. And all of this nastiness from Bumgarner should get the wheels turning for another division rival once you see how they compare to his exploits.
The table below looks again at this three-season span of Bumgarner's domination at the plate and measures it head-to-head with the San Diego Padres' offense over that time. You can choose one or the other; which side you got?
|San Diego Padres||0.233||0.294||0.362||0.289|
I don't know about y'all, but I'm taking Bumgarner 10 times out of 10 when Alexei Ramirez is the alternative.
Maybe it isn't fair, though, to compare Bumgarner to the Padres' offense as a whole. Playing at Petco Park is a bit of a buzzkill, and that would include the hitting stats of their mere-mortal pitchers. Instead, let's put Bumgarner up against their clean-up hitters. Surely, that'll swing things in the Padres' favor, right?
|Padres' Clean-Up Hitters||0.225||0.301||0.403||0.307|
You can beat 'em, MadBum, but you ain't gotta kill 'em. Show some mercy, home slice.
With this, we come to a proposition. When Bumgarner isn't pitching for the Giants, he should be allowed to bat clean-up for the Padres. This way, the Padres get an improvement in the middle of their order, and the world gets to marvel at Bumgarner's illitude more than just once every five days. Everybody wins.
Do the right thing, Giants. Free Bumgarner's bat from its bench-riding prison and let it frolick in an environment desperate for anything rivaling competence. Give the people what they want, which is to see this bad mamma jamma come to the dish and do his thang as often as humanly possible.