The magic continues and this time I turn to a hitter that has always been pretty good with the bat but has turned it on in a big way this year. He was never known as someone that would make a run at the batting title but this year he has shown people that he could compete, kind of. There is only one small problem. He is a pitcher and only bats once every five days at best. I probably don’t have to tell you that I am talking about Carlos Zambrano. Now all Cubs fans and all baseball fans for that matter know what Big Z can do on the mound. What has been magical for me this year is his use of the bat. Pitchers are usually a near automatic out but with Zambrano you feel as confident in him getting a hit as you do with Alfonso Soriano when he is “on fire“.
Including this year, Carlos Zambrano is a career .239 hitter. That is definitely not bad for a pitcher. There are everyday starters that fall below that level. What is impressive is that Zambrano has a current average of .362. He also has three home runs, 12 RBI’s and eight runs scored. The numbers aren’t impressive, other than the batting average, but what if we did an apples to apples comparison. With that in mind I thought I would take his stats and compare them with a top hitter from this year.
When I thought of players that got a lot of early press about their hitting this year the person that came to mind was Chipper Jones. He has been out recently but he has been swinging the bat well this year and seemed like a good choice. Since Zambrano doesn’t play as often my goal was to try and match-up the number of at-bats so they were as close as possible. I was very lucky on this part because Zambrano has 66 AB’s while Jones has 330 AB’s, at least when I wrote this they did. Using my analytical mind I figured out that Jones has exactly five times the AB’s of Zambrano.
Here is what I started with. These are the stats as they were before the calculations were done.
I removed stats like triples, stolen bases, and caught stealing because they aren’t that common for either player. Now as you look at the stats you aren’t that impressed. It really isn’t close but it shouldn’t be with one player having five times the AB’s of the other player. Now let’s do our calculations and equal things out a little.
Once you match the AB’s of Zambrano to Jones it makes a big difference in the comparison. Zambrano is behind in runs, walks and OBP and he has double the strikeouts of Jones. The other stats are very comparable. Now am I telling you that if Zambrano played every day he would be in the same league as Chipper Jones? No, I am not saying that at all. I think we all know that regular hitters deal with slumps, adjustments and other issues that pitchers don’t deal with on a regular basis.
Big Z’s hitting has been magical this year to go along with his usually solid pitching. I was at the game last Saturday versus the Cards and although he didn’t pitch well, he did smack another home run. Zambrano is fun to watch not only for what he does on the mound but for what he brings to each at bat. That is why I included Carlos Zambrano, the hitter, in my list of this year’s magical players.