Stat of the Day: Who are the best-hitting pitchers?

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In honor of Ross Ohlendorf smacking a three-run homer against the Dodgers last night after coming into the game with a career .070 batting average, here’s a list of the best-hitting active pitchers based on their career OPS:

                     PA      OPS
Micah Owings        217     .820
Dontrelle Willis    443     .663
Yovani Gallardo     263     .660
Carlos Zambrano     708     .646
CC Sabathia         104     .627
Mike Leake          125     .606
Daniel Hudson       106     .601
Dan Haren           291     .581

Prior to this season Micah Owings was so good at hitting and so bad at pitching that becoming a hitter who occasionally pitches seemed like a good idea, but he’s 7-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 59 innings for the Diamondbacks and is hitting just .211.

All of the other guys on the above list have impressive numbers for a pitcher, but it’s worth noting that they’re still pretty terrible at the plate in general. For instance, Dontrelle Willis has the second-best OPS at .663, which is lower than position players who’re often mocked for their lack of production like Aaron Miles (.674), Jack Wilson (.676), Miguel Cairo (.682), and Yuniesky Betancourt (.683).

Incidentally, after last night’s homer Ohlendorf boosted his career OPS from .140 to .211 (and it comes with a nifty 47/3 K/BB ratio).

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.