Daily Archives: June 17, 2008

Pitchers hitting

There is all kinds of “conventional wisdom” in the game of softball. You’ll often hear you should never make the first or last out at third base, that you should always bunt a runner to second with nobody out, and other such ideas. Some of them make sense, some do not.

Another common one is that you should DH for the pitcher. The reasoning is pitchers can’t hit because they spend all their time working on hitting. (Or in some cases there is a fear that the pitcher will get hurt batting or running the bases and then be out of the game, perhaps even down for the season.)

Yet let’s think about it for a minute. Pitching in fastpitch softball is an extremely difficult position. It requires great dedication and great concentration. Pitchers often continue to practice their craft after the field players have been sent on their way. Hmmmm. What attributes would we like in hitters? How about dedication in the off season and concentration at the plate? Get where I’m going?

Here’s an extreme example. When the 2004 National team was making its run toward the Olympics, their cleanup hitter in most games was a lady named Lisa Fernandez. She was either playing third or DHing for someone, and hitting the heck out of the ball. Yet when she was in the circle, the coaching staff would have someone hit for her. One day Coach Mike Candrea stopped to think about it and realized that was just silly. He then let Lisa hit for herself when she was pitching, and she helped the team win its third Olympic gold medal.

On my own team we’re seeing a microcosm of that scenario. Currently three out of the top four hitters are also my pitchers. (The fourth is an ex-pitcher, incidentally.) We’ll see how it goes during the season, but those three are leading or close to leading most offensive categories. Why on earth would I want to DH for them?

I’d be interested to hear from others who let their pitchers hit, to see if they are also at the top of the stats. Maybe we’re on oddity. But I don’t think so. Dedication and focus are required to hit well. Good pitchers have both in abundance.

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