Sometimes, leaderboards can be shocking. Take, for instance, the Brewers leading hitters by OPS.
That’s right – Yovani Gallardo is currently the Brewers leader in OPS. He trails Prince Fielder by all of 1 point in wOBA, .389 vs. .388. In 60 plate appearances, Gallardo has seven singles, three doubles, four home runs, eight walks, and two hit by pitches. Really, the only aspect of hitting in which Gallardo hasn’t excelled this year is contact – he’s struck out 15 times – but when it’s backed up by this kind of performance, that’s unimportant for any hitter, much less a pitcher.
Of course, this is Gallardo’s best season at the plate. However, solid hitting is nothing new for Gallardo. The would-be slugger posted a .800 OPS in the minor leagues and a .256 wOBA in his first two full seasons as a starter. That’s right between Cezar Izturis and Jose Lopez on the 2010 leaderboard, and well above the league average for starting pitchers.
With this year’s crazy numbers, particularly the .288 ISO – nearly double the league average! – Gallardo has raised his overall MLB hitting line to .220/.260/.428. The OBP isn’t enough to make him a good hitter, but with those kinds of power numbers as a hitter, Gallardo’s career wOBA of .296 is only about 20 points higher than Jason Kendall’s, and that’s extremely valuable, especially considering Gallardo is typically pitching in low scoring games.
One of the reasons that Carlos Zambrano has been so valuable for the Cubs is the fact that he’s also an excellent hitter. Yovani Gallardo has the same potential, particularly the way he’s been hitting this year, and he’s as good a pitcher as Zambrano used to be (if not better) without being completely insane. It’s an extraordinarily underrated part of his game, and it greatly increases his value to the Brewers.