Diamondbacks starter Micah Owings is just about the best hitting pitcher you or I have ever seen.

How good is he? Well, last year he led the entire Diamondbacks squad with a 1.033 OPS, including a .333 batting average, 4 homers, and a .683 slugging percentage. In one incredible game against the Pirates on September 27, he went 4 for 4 with 3 doubles and 3 RBI while pitching 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball, en route to an 8-0 victory.

owingsatbat.jpgAnd this season, having gone 2-3 with a run scored in his victory yesterday, his batting average now is up to .308.

Of course, pitchers don’t get too many at bats, so these are some pretty small sample sizes we are talking about, but you can be sure that Owings is for real. For one thing, he was a star two-way pitcher/first baseman at Division-I Tulane, and would certainly have been draftable as a hitter if he hadn’t been drafted as a pitcher. There is also the fact that in his two minor-league seasons, he put up a combined line of .377 /.381/.525.

By my reckoning, Owings is presently the 5th best hitter on the entire Diamondbacks team. He is certainly better than catcher Chris Snyder, shortstop Stephen Drew, or second baseman Orlando Hudson. Which is why it is so odd that the Diamondbacks are still batting him in the traditional 9th spot. He should at least be batting 7th, and maybe even higher.

Of course, there is always the fact that as a pitcher, Owings usually does not play the full game. But this is the good ol’ National League, and that is precisely what the double-switch is made for.

The point is that the Diamondbacks have a rare two-way player on their hands, and if they are smart the should do everything in their power to get him as many at-bats as they can. One way to do that is to put him higher in the lineup, which is so obviously a smart move that it is baffling they haven’t done it already. In addition, they should also probably be pinch hitting him just about every game, and should maybe even consider sneaking him in at first base from time to time. And he should almost certainly be their DH in interleague games.

Obviously they don’t want to risk injury to him by making him play a demanding position in the field, because oh yeah he is also a pretty good pitcher, off to a 4-0 start this year with a 2.42 ERA.

But batting him 9th just because that is where all other pitchers bat is just stupid.

16 Responses to “Why the heck is Micah Owings still batting 9th?”

  1. Brian Anderson has given upper management/Ozzie a headache for 3 years? How about the headaches that Brian Anderson has given me? He runs off the field when the 2nd out is made. He’s had Scott Podsednik have to run to left-centerfield to catch the ball FOR Brian. That’s among some of the boneheaded plays he’s made when he was playing for the Sox in 2006. It was nice not seeing him in 2007. I was shocked and saddened to see Brian Anderson in the 2008 spring training games. If they want to bring him back for the sheer entertainment aspect that he brings to the table, then that’s ok with me. I have tons of Advil.

  2. The counter argument here would be to keep his focus on pitching. In his case, run prevention is a higher priority than run production. So unless he is a focus machine and is unfazed by the pressure of driving in runs, keeping him in the 9-hole might be best (I said ‘might be’!).

  3. Sarah Green says:

    In related two-way player news, Clay Buchholz is rumored to be even faster than Jacoby Ellsbury, who has 17 steals in the majors and he hasn’t been caught yet. He was also the best hitter on his college team. I would LOVE to see Buchholz swing the bat and swipe some bags in an interleague game (in fact, this may be the first time ever I have looked forward to interleague play), but will the super-cautious Red Sox let their prize do anything so reckless? I doubt it. Alas.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, as long as the whole idea that “players NEED to know where they’re consistently hitting in the lineup” goes away, it’s hard to execute. Because you know, it’s a known FACT that a guy who’s used to hitting sixth cannot POSSIBLY bat seventh. Doing such a thing would throw off the space-time continuum to the point where alternate universes would be springing about left and right.

  5. I’m sure there are some managers (*ahem, Tony LaRussa, cough*) that would move him up in a heartbeat. He should never go to an AL team and play under the baseball for idiots rules.

  6. Owings actually did bat higher in the lineup during Spring Training, so I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Bob Melvin moved him up to seventh or eighth on occasion. Not sure how position players hitting lower than him in the lineup may feel about that (they shouldn’t…but psychologically it’s a bit deflating). As for playing first base, Melvin squashed that thought early in the spring. But, yes the guy can definitely mash. You should see him take batting practice…screaming liners out of the park.

  7. I agree that Owings could definitely help his team more higher in the batting order. I would also add that having him in the 9 hole puts him on base when the heart of the order comes up thus giving the 3,4 & 5 hitters more RBI opportunities. I think most poor hitting pitchers should actually bat in the 8 hole not the 9. More NL teams should consider moving the pitcher out of the 9 hole and putting someone there more likely to get on base so the best hitters have a better chance to drive in runs. Since I think the weakest hitter should be in the 8 hole and not the 9 I don’t think it’s all that bad to have Owings in the 9 spot.

  8. Here’s a twist. Since it’s now trendy to bat the pitcher eighth instead of ninth, doesn’t hitting Micah Owings (who is no ordinary pitcher) ninth make sense?

  9. Paul Moro says:

    Coley, way to take Melissa’s contention and claim it as your own.

    Anyhow, the question isn’t really should Owings bat 8th. Nick’s saying he should be higher than that. We’re all in agreement, I think, that having a good hitter in the 6 or 7 slots is more important than having one in 8 or 9.

  10. Jojo Fireball says:

    It absolutely kills me in my fantasy league because I don’t get Owings’ OFFENSIVE STATS… Yeah it’s great that he’s 4-0 with a low era but if I could get his numbers I’d be doing much better… I wonder if there are any leagues out there that give pitchers offensive #’s any weight? Sac bunts? Moving runners over? That’s an interesting idea…

  11. from his wikipedia page:

    “Owings holds Georgia’s high school home run record with 69, third in the nation only to Drew Henson and Jeff Clement.”

  12. enrique pollazzo says:

    he is not better than drew or hudson. he gets easy pitches to hit. they get scouted, please

  13. Sarah Green says:

    It would be really stupid for opposing pitchers to throw him easy pitches to hit. I doubt this is what’s happening.

  14. Nick Kapur says:

    Man, JoJo, I am so with you. I’ve always wished that Fantasy Leagues would give credit (or in most cases, discredit) for pitchers’ batting stats. Sure, AL pitchers don’t get them much, outside of interleague, but that’s just something to take into consideration! And most NL pitchers would probably just end up hurting a teams batting average a bit anyway. But we have those stats, and it would add an interesting wrinkle, and one more thing for fantasy geeks to obsess over, so really, why not make use of them?

  15. Sarah Green says:

    Also, I think we should be allowed to yank our starters mid-game if they’re sucking, just like the real managers. I think Alejandro, proud owner of Francisco Liriano, would agree with me…

  16. Hehe Pete. Funny post. Brian Anderson is so lackadaisical that you just want to kick him HARD in the nuts. His indifference is so irritating that you just want to squeeze his head until it pops. And when he’s interviewed he shows no intensity at all. I hate that guy. He also seems to be overmatched by just about every pitcher.

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