Carlos Zambrano beat the Phillies with 7.2 innings of one-run ball yesterday and also homered for the first time since joining the Marlins and the 24th time in his career.
That ties him with Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Walter Johnson for the seventh-most homers by a pitcher in baseball history and Zambrano has hit those 24 homers in just 732 plate appearances, whereas Gibson needed 1,489 and Johnson needed 2,520. On a per-plate appearance basis Zambrano has the third-best homer rate among all pitchers to go deep at least 20 times.
He’s now five homers from tying Don Drysdale for sixth place, but moving up any further than that will be tough. Warren Spahn and Earl Wilson are next with 35 apiece, Red Ruffing has 36, Bob Lemon has 37, and Wes Ferrell is the all-time leader with 38.
Zambrano has shown legitimate 20-homer power if given a chance to play every day for a full season, but his overall production would still be pretty modest for a position player. He’s a career .239 hitter with a .249 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage, which is good for a .640 OPS that would rank 345th among the 376 active non-pitchers with at least 700 plate appearances.
He basically hits like a backup catcher or a utility infielder, which is pretty damn good considering he’s got a 2.81 ERA and .207 opponents’ batting average in 74 innings as a pitcher this season.