Physical casualties are not the norm, but it’s rare for anything good to happen when denizens of the hill have to heft lumber. Across the major leagues, pitchers bat a collective .091 — or less than half what the worst-hitting position players achieve.
More than 40 percent of the time, pitchers simply strike out. That figure would be higher if they didn’t take so many opportunities to bunt, on the theory that it’s the only productive possibility open to them. Not productive in the sense of actually trying to reach base — only in the sense of advancing a runner while making the inevitable out. But watching someone lay down a sacrifice bunt is a poor use of our cruelly brief time on Earth.
Besides the pitiful spectacle they present, batting pitchers distort the game, at least when the game is between an American League squad and a National League opponent. This year, under the expanded interleague schedule, that is just about every day.
The designated hitter rule does not apply in NL parks, which creates a serious disadvantage for AL teams: Their pitchers are especially terrible in an offensive role because they so rarely fill it.