Friday, July 21, 2006

Pitchers Who Played Other Positions, An Overview

Occasionally, because of odd circumstances, a major league pitcher is called upon to play in the field. The next 5 posts list and detail those occasions.

The categories:

1. Pitchers in the starting lineup at other positions for fluky reasons, and who never actually played there.

There are four possible reasons why a pitcher would fall into this category: strategy, statistical manipulation, protests, and possible player unavailability.

2. Pitchers who moved from pitcher to another position so that a different pitcher would have the platoon advantage.

This strategy made it possible for the first pitcher to return to a mound after the replacement pitcher (usually a lefty) pitched to the next batter. It was popularized by Paul Richards, and used most often by Indians manager Alvin Dark and Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog. It became largely obsolete with the advent of deeper bullpens and shorter benches.

3. Pitchers who played in the field because the team had run out of position players.

My favorite category; there's a great story behind almost every one of these.

4. Pitchers who played in the field during the final days of the season.

The games had no impact on the standings, so why not have a little fun?

5. Pitchers who played in the field for other reasons.

Either the pitcher played in the field because he truly was the best available player or for some other unclassifiable reason.

These lists include only pitchers who played in the field, or were listed in the starting lineups at non-pitcher positions. Pitchers who merely pinch-ran (many) or pinch-hit (Rick Honeycutt) for the listed DH are not included. Same goes for pitchers who started in the majors at other positions (e.g., Brooks Kieschnick) and players who started in the majors as pitchers, but moved to other positions (e.g., Babe Ruth).

Also, I restricted the lists to games from 1957 or later. The play-by-play for games from 1956 and earlier are not easily available, and finding them would be quite time-consuming. At some point in the future, I may add such games.

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