We just debuted “McDeep Dive”, our new series that will spotlight one Giants player every day for a week. We’ll move backwards and forwards through time, look at on the field stuff, off the field stuff, and see if we can learn something new about them. Here’s part 7, this week’s last look at Madison Bumgarner.
The top 100 hitting pitchers of all time (as told by bWAR) includes names like Babe Ruth (1st), Schoolboy Rowe (24th and not to be confused with School Boy Row, which is what minimum security prisons put all the day traders), Tom Glavine (35th), and Christy Mathewson (38th). There are also guys like Steve Carlton (ranked 46th and whom you’ll recall was mentioned in Part 5 as Madison Bumgarner’s closest Hall of Fame comp), Doc Gooden (66th), and Orel Hershiser (67th) on that list — players we don’t think of as all-timers at the dish.
In our little corner of the baseball world, Livan Hernandez: Great Hitting Pitcher has always felt like an inside joke. Something that was objectively a whatever thought, but it’s actually true. He’s ranked 55th — in the history of Major League Baseball — in pitcher hitting wins above replacement with 5.4 bWAR. It wasn’t all just that 4-for-4 game he had against the Cubs back in 2001!
Livan accumulated that much value over 17 seasons and 1,113 plate appearances. Madison Bumgarner won’t wind up being a top 10 hitting pitcher in baseball history (even if you exclude the pitchers who switched over to hitting full time such as Babe Ruth), but his exactly 4.0 bWAR (good for 88th place) has been accomplished in just 567 plate appearances across 10 seasons.
We know Madison Bumgarner loves to hit and gets really obnoxious about it.
Livan had 215 hits and 10 home runs in his career. Bumgarner is at 90 and 17. Tom Glavine (remember, 35th) reached 6.8 war in 1,645 plate appearances and hit only 1 home run in 246 hits.
Bumgarner really can do everything, which includes topping Livan and Tom Glavine when it’s all said and done. When he starts mixing in an opposite field approach, he’ll become the best-hitting pitcher of the modern era.