Earlier this season, we learned that San Francisco Giants ace (and multiple Silver Slugger) Madison Bumgarner was pushing to be in the 2016 Home Run Derby. The comments spawned from the revelation that – at the time – each of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Bumgarner had exactly 11 home runs in their last 190 plate appearances.
The comments (and the idea) made their way to other pitchers around the league, including Jake Arrieta, Adam Wainwright and Jacob deGrom – each of whom indicated their interest in participating. While that dream remains alive (but dormant), there’s another, perhaps more interesting story developing: Bumgarner wants to hit for himself in the American League.
At 9:05 ET, the San Francisco Giants (an NL team) will travel over to the Oakland Coliseum (an AL Park) to take on the Athletics. Because the series will be held in the American League, though, the Giants are permitted to use a designated hitter, per the rules.
EXCEPT THEY AREN’T GOING TO.
That’s right, tonight, when Madison Bumgarner takes the mound for the Giants, he will also be hitting for himself when his turn comes up in the lineup.
Once it happens, it will be the first time since 1976, when the Chicago White Sox allowed starter Ken Brett to hit for himself. It’s a pretty fascinating development (and ballsy strategy), given the obvious benefit of getting an actual hitter in there, but Bumgarner’s got the a) desire and b) pull to make this sort of thing happen.
On the season, Bumgarner is slashing .175/.261/.350 with an impressive 10.9% walk rate and .175 ISO (but a 37.0% strikeout rate). That said, he hasn’t been the best hitting pitcher in baseball this year. That distinction lies with 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who is slashing an utterly ridiculous .294/.368/.500 for the Cubs, with two home runs already.
I wonder if he’ll start getting any ideas.