San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy recently revealed that he was pleasantly surprised by a certain offensive strategy the Giants began toying with during Spring Training this year.
To be more specific, San Francisco began hitting the pitcher in the batting order’s number eight spot rather than number nine. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, the strategy, although not a first for the entirety of the MLB, was very unconventional. Pitchers are usually terrible hitters, and although San Francisco does host one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time in Madison Bumgarner, no one was expecting the unusual batting configuration.
Giants fan just turned to me and asked "why is your pitcher batting eighth?!" Cuz we gangsta like that DAMN!— Beezy (@ambeezy10) May 13, 2014
Despite its unorthodox nature, however, San Francisco’s hitting strategy has been working out very nicely, a fact which Giants skipper Bochy was eager to bring to the attention of the public on the San Francisco Giants official site.
“Overall, I think it’s worked out a little better than I expected,” Bochy said.
And he is certainly not wrong. The Giants pitching staff is collectively batting.171, their site reports – the ninth highest out of the 30 teams in the MLB – and their slugging percentage is.286, the fourth highest. The San Francisco speedster who has generally been hitting in the number nine spot, Angel Pagan, has also benefitted by hitting for an average of.351, fifth highest of any player in the National League.
Bochy also made it clear that the “pitcher eighth” strategy is not San Francisco’s attempt at a gimmick to stand out or draw fans; if the gambit did not provide a tactical advantage, he would not hesitate to abandon it.
“Overall, it’s gone well. If it hadn’t, I would switch,” he noted.
“I’ve said that if it came up too many times where I regretted hitting the pitcher eighth, then I’ll switch them off.”
Of course, the strategy has not paid off 100 percent of the time for San Francisco, Bochy admits, but what strategy does?
“There have been moments in the game where it’s come up and you say, ‘Well, we would have been better served with the pitcher batting ninth,’ which is going to happen.”
If the heart-of-the-lineup Giants batters get some momentum going, for instance, it might be difficult for the pitcher to drive them home. In fact, he will more than likely put a stop to San Francisco’s roll with an out and, even if that is not the third out of the inning, it will be less likely for Pagan to pick up those RBIs with the Giants’ offensive momentum having been quashed.
But much more common are instances like those that happened in San Francisco’s April 4 opener against the Milwaukee Brewers. In that game, Giants ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner, hitting eighth, made the last out of the second inning. That paved the way for San Francisco to hit the ground running in the third inning, with the number nine hitter, Angel Pagan, and the leadoff hitter, Denard Span, both getting hits to kick off a game-changing rally.
“The more I see it, the more I like it,” said Bochy at the time, and the Giants’ continual cashing in on the strategy has only strengthened his faith in it since then.
As SF Gate reports, Bochy was very skeptical of the strategy at first and only conceded to its use by the Giants after some convincing. After all, points out FOX Sports, there have only been about 800 games in the MLB since 1900 that have not seen the pitcher bat last (and over 400 of those games were coached by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Tony Larussa).
But after the roaring success of the “pitcher in the eight spot” strategy during the 2016 San Francisco Giants season, Bochy has become a huge fan of the philosophy. In fact, it may very well be a notable feature of the Giants for years to come.
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]