As a Brewers fan what their favorite recent postseason memory is and you could get a number of different answers. It should surprise no one that one of those answers actually involves a pitcher providing some timely offense.
Back in the 2018 NLCS, Brandon Woodruff infamously cranked a deep homer off of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, sending the (then) Miller Park crowd into a frenzy. It was unlikely a hit as it was breathtaking.
And Brewers fans may not see anything like it ever again. That is because as part of the CBA negotiations (or lack thereof) that currently have MLB in a lockout, one of the rule changes on the table is the permanent addition of the universal designated hitter. It’s a change that has a high likelihood of passing.
Outside of some rare circumstances, that would mean the end of the excitement fans get when a pitcher actually puts forth a positive contribution toward the team’s offense for the day. So, to honor those moments, let’s look back at some Milwaukee pitchers (50 plate appearances minimum) who were a bit more successful at the plate.
Here are some Brewers pitchers who were among the top hitters in franchise history by three different stats.
Best Hitting Brewers Pitcher by fWAR: Yovani Gallardo
With fWAR being a cumulative stat, it helped that late 2000s and early 2010s pitcher Yovani Gallardo had the second most plate appearances for a pitcher in franchise history, helping him to a 3.0 fWAR. Still, he is the only Brewer to even crack 1.0 fWAR for his career.
Plenty of other cumulative stats speak to Gallardo’s competence at the plate as well. The right-hander leads all Brewers pitchers in career home runs (12), RBIs (42), runs scored (36), and doubles (20) as well.
But perhaps Gallardo’s most notable achievement at the plate was when he took Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson deep back in 2009. He was the only pitcher to do so in The Big Unit’s storied MLB career.
Runner-up: Glendon Rusch (0.9 fWAR)
Best Hitting Brewers Pitcher by OPS: Brooks Kieschnick
Now while Gallardo had the cumulative stats locked down, his career averages weren’t exactly the best. The same can’t be said of Brooks Kieschnick, who more than held his own at the plate with a franchise best OPS of .837 for his Brewers career.
Now some might want to give Kieschnick an asterisk here seeing as he wasn’t just a full-time pitcher. Not only did he dabble in the outfield, he nearly had as many pinch hit appearances for Milwaukee (72) as pitching appearances (74). Still, he was a pitcher by trade, so he makes the list.
Kieschnick doesn’t just top the list in OPS among Brewers pitchers. He takes the slash line triple crown by leading in career batting average (.286), on base percentage (.340), and slugging percentage (.496), not to mention career wRC+ (114).
Runner-up: Wes Obermueller (.633 OPS)
Best Hitting Brewers Pitcher by Sacrifice Hits: Ben Sheets
Let’s get one thing straight, Ben Sheets was in the game to pitch. He was a four-time All-Star, has the second best bWAR in franchise history (25.6), and has the best strikeout to walk ratio (3.853) in Brewers history, as a pitcher.
That talent on the mound, though, certainly did not translate to the plate. Sheets, who sits just above Gallardo with the most plate appearances ever for a Brewers pitcher, compiled just a .076 batting average for his career and struck out 41.5% of the time.
But there’s more than one way to move a runner over. Sheets had more sacrifice hits (41) than any pitcher in Brewers history. Additionally, that actually ranks eighth best among all career Milwaukee hitters, just behind Mark Loretta and just above Stormin’ Gorman Thomas.
Runner-up: Yovani Gallardo (35)
Pitcher hits may be rare but often that’s what makes them so exciting, Now, they may mostly become a thing of the past.