Not only did Livan Hernandez shut out the Braves for eight innings last night, he went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer at the plate in an 6-0 victory.
Hernandez now has 10 career homers, which ranks third among all active pitchers:
Carlos Zambrano 650 21
Mike Hampton 845 16
LIVAN HERNANDEZ 1042 10
Micah Owings 198 9
Yovani Gallardo 181 8
Dontrelle Willis 413 8
Hernandez has more plate appearances than everyone else on that list, so it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison. For instance, Hernandez ranks just 10th in OPS among active pitchers with at least 150 plate appearances:
Micah Owings 198 .861
Yovani Gallardo 181 .690
Mike Hampton 845 .650
Carlos Zambrano 650 .637
Dontrelle Willis 413 .634
Adam Wainwright 331 .588
Dan Haren 287 .580
Russ Ortiz 608 .549
Darren Oliver 243 .543
LIVAN HERNANDEZ 1042 .532
On the other hand, Hernandez is the active hit king among pitchers with 204 and no one else is within 25 hits.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.