Taylor Jungmann & Best-Hitting Brewers Pitchers

Taylor Jungmann went from possibly a failed prospect to arguably this season’s best pitcher. Even after a rough start in his last outing, he is currently sporting a delightful 3.05 ERA. The really fun part about his performance this year is that he’s shown skill with his bat as well. He’s hitting .281/.303/.344 with a 72 wRC+ in 39 plate appearances. That may not look amazing on the surface, but league-average for pitchers in 2015 is a measly .131/.158/.168.

In context of other pitchers, Jungmann has been an offensive juggernaut in his 18 starts this season. The right-hander has just 39 plate appearances, but among those with at least 40 PA, he ranks second in baseball after Madison Bumgarner, who is hitting .243/.264/.486 with a 108 wRC+. It’s been fun to watch because pitchers are almost always universally horrible at the plate.

This got me thinking about the best hitting pitchers in Brewers history. I decided to sort the Brewers pitchers by wRC+ and only those that have accumulated a minimum of 100 plate appearances. The Brewers have technically been a team since 1969, but they only came to the National League in 1998. As such, the list is only 26 players long. Here is the top-ten list:

Brooks Kieschnick 144  286 340  496 114
Glendon Rusch 122  260 288  290 53
Chris Narveson 130  229  270  257  44
Yovani Gallardo 466  195  220  329  40
Bill Parsons 166  165  224  216  28
Manny Parra 161  183  225  275  27
Randy Wolf  195  197  203  236  11
Shaun Marcum  120  134  200  196  7
Skip Lockwood  211  137  183  183  5
Marco Estrada  142  143  184  176  -5

By wRC+, which attempts to normalize for many contextual factors, Brooks Kieshnick is leagues ahead of the rest. He also has the unique distinction as being the only dual-threat player on this list. He donned a Brewers uniform in 2003 and 2004. While he was solely a pitcher for them in his second season with the team, in 2003 he played 26 innings in the outfield and 56 innings as a pitcher.

I think Yovani Gallardo has a strong argument as the truly best hitting pitcher. He has the second-most plate appearances among Brewers after Ben Sheets (496 PA). Only one other pitcher comes within 200 plate appearances — Dave Bush with 299 PA. Gallardo is also far and away the leader in home runs by a pitcher. His 12 home runs are 10 more than any other pure pitcher. In fact, his 12 home runs are more than every other pure pitcher combined. Brooks Kieshnick did have 8 home runs, but he was also a part time position player.

While Taylor Jungmann only has 39 plate appearances thus far in his young career breaking into this top ten list is not a difficult task. We don’t even get out of the top ten before we see a negative contributor — Marco Estrada’s -5 wRC+. However with just those 39 plate appearances under his belt, we have no real idea what to expect from him going forward. Next season will be Jungmann’s first full season in the majors. Even though it’s not important, I’m going to enjoy tracking his offense to determine where he ends up on this list once he surpasses 100 plate appearances.

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