There is nothing more out of body than a home run. It doesn’t matter if you’re the guy trotting around the bases or a fan spilling beer on himself. Yet when a pitcher hits one, it feels more like a freak show. A pitcher is supposed to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Anything else is considered a bonus.
The best hitting pitcher was probably Babe Ruth, but he was simply too good of a hitter to waste away on the bench between starts. And so Ruth became a full time outfielder and well, you know the rest.
Wes Ferrel hit the most home runs as a pitcher with 38 in 1176 at bats. In 1931, he hit 9 for the season in a mere 116 at bats, but what makes it even more amazing is that he allowed the same number of home runs as a pitcher. That number 9 seems much smaller in 275 innings of work. He also threw a no hitter that year.
That potent mix of hitting home runs and throwing a no-hitter may be the greatest all around individual performance in the history of baseball. Rick Wise stands alone as the master.
On June 21, 1971, Wise threw a no-hitter. No big deal right? There’s been plenty of those. He also hit two home runs. No other pitcher has ever done that. Two months later, Wise hit two home runs in the same game again, yet for his career, he only hit 15.
Yovani Gallardo leads all active pitchers with 12 career home runs in 342 at bats or one every 28 trips to the plate. If the 27-year old Milwaukee Brewer stays healthy, he could catch Wes Ferrel.
He’s also hitting .242 for his career including .270 this season. The Brewers as a team are batting .257 in 2013. Hmmmm. Makes me wonder about him playing third base from time to time.