The Detroit Tigers didn’t play today, but there was plenty of baseball happening on the official Opening Day of the 2017 season.
Even though the Detroit Tigers were not on the diamond, one of Justin Verlander‘s most memorable tweets of 2017 was in full effect today.
It involved pitchers who rake.
While there were plenty of highlights in the three games that dominated television, the most notable event involved San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. In an incredibly unlikely occurrence, he hit a home run in the top of the fifth off of none other than ace pitcher Zack Greinke. Not to be outdone by any other pitcher, Bumgarner hit a second one in the seventh off of Andrew Chafin.
Sadly for the Giants, they did not win the game. But, Bumgarner set another record, adding to his legend as one of the best around.
Bumgarner may be the first pitcher in the history of the MLB to hit two dingers on Opening Day, but he is not the only pitcher who rakes. The Tigers happen to have one on their roster by the name of Daniel Norris. He hit his first home run in his very first MLB at-bat, which happened to be at Wrigley Field in 2015. Unfortunately, he also happened to strain his left oblique (from pitching, not hitting) that same day.
Back to Justin Verlander.
In February, Verlander and Chris Archer (who also happened to have a great day today) discussed how to make baseball better. They did it over Twitter on February 23, 2017. Verlander actually responded to Archer’s request from fans on how to improve baseball. Verlander responded with his desire to have the NL and AL have the same rules, preferably the NL rules.
It was a surprising tweet from Verlander who has had only 3 hits in his 12 years in the MLB. It was also surprising because the Tigers have the iconic Victor Martinez in the DH position. But, seeing pitchers hit home runs does add some thrill to the game. While designated hitters are expected to hit them, when the pitcher does it, it’s just a bit more exciting.
Remember the unrelenting 2016 highlight film of Bartolo Colon hitting his first home run. Ever. In case you haven’t had enough of it, here it is:
It was exciting. And, he ran the bases faster than Victor Martinez usually does. Yes, someone did evaluate that.
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Verlander and Archer also discussed how using the NL rules will help their stats. JV and Archer were strikeout leaders in the AL in 2016 with 254 and 233 respectively. But, the NL pitchers had more K’s. Max Scherzer finished 2016 with 284 (with 20 of them coming from the Tigers on May 11) and Jose Fernandez finished with 253. It seems that Archer and Verlander may be on to something.
Today’s MLB pitchers look more like Jake Arrieta (who has four home runs in the past two years) than Bartolo Colon. With improved physical fitness, pitchers should be able to hit better than they ever have before. And with clever managers like Joe Maddon playing around with the lineup and putting the pitcher somewhere other than the nine hole, #PitchersWhoRake is gaining ground.
Were Verlander and Archer on to something? Possibly. Only time will tell. But, keep those NL pitchers in your peripherals, especially if home run numbers continue on their upward spike. It might just be time to start reevaluating the usefulness of the DH in the AL.