Madison Bumgarner’s Dominance Isn’t Limited to the Mound


On Monday, San Francisco Giants‘ ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner added another honor to his already impressive résumé, as he was named the National League Player of the Week. There’s no doubt that Bumgarner earned that award, as he dominated in his two starts last week. He completed nine innings in both outings, allowing a single run on eight hits, with 26 strikeouts and one, lonely walk.

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But Bumgarner wasn’t just named Pitcher of the Week, and for good reason. On Sunday, when Bumgarner threw his first complete game shutout of 2015, he added a run-scoring double, as well as a solo home run that piled the final straw that broke the camel’s back in the seventh inning.

That’s nothing new for the country strong hurler. He has long been considered the best hitting pitcher in baseball, and he just further established that notion. He has dominated at the plate just as much as he has on the mound over the past two seasons.

In Sunday’s game against the Nationals, eighth-place hitter Kelby Tomlinson led off the inning with an infield single. Conventional wisdom says that with a runner on first and no one out, the pitcher takes one for the team and bunts his runner into scoring position. But Bumgarner throws conventional wisdom out the window when a bat is placed in his hands. Bumgarner doubled to right field (impressive in its own right, for a pitcher), and when Bryce Harper misplayed the ball, Tomlinson’s speed allowed him to score easily.

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Bumgarner has been in bunting situations (runners on first and/or second, less than two outs) 29 times over the past two years. He’s bunted the runner along just eight times, and has totaled six hits. Not many pitchers are adept enough at the plate to get that kind of green light.

Bumgarner drove in more runs than he allowed on Sunday for the sixth time in his career, and the second time this year. In his third start of the 2014 season, Bumgarner allowed four runs, but outdid that by driving in five, including hitting his first career grand slam.

Among active pitchers, only Yovani Gallardo (12) has more home runs than Bumgarner’s 10. But since 2010, Bumgarner’s first full season in the big leagues, no pitcher has more home runs than his 10, and no pitcher has totaled more than his 38 RBI. Since 2014 started, Bumgarner’s .252 average is 35 points higher than any other pitcher in the game (at least 40 plate appearances).

Over the last two years, Bumgarner’s .479 slugging percentage would be tied for the Giants’ team lead, matched only by Brandon Belt, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. His slugging percentage in that span is higher than Chris Davis (who has hit 60 home runs since 2014 started), Justin Upton, Adrian Beltre, Yoenis Cespedes, and Yasiel Puig, just to name a few.

Bumgarner has shown the ability to hit pitches other than straight fastballs for home runs as well. His home run on Sunday came when Casey Janssen hung a slider over the middle of the plate. Earlier this year, he hit an 82 mile-per-hour changeup from Christian Bergman over the fence. Another home run came off a 90-mph sinker from Chris Bassitt.

Those home runs don’t just come against mop-up guys either. He’s taken both of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ big arms, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, deep over the past two seasons. The home run against Greinke last year came on a 0-2 count, when Greinke put a slider down and away. Greinke didn’t get the pitch down as far as he probably would have liked, but Bumgarner still put a good swing on it, and crushed it for a two-run homer.

Manager Bruce Bochy knows what a special hitter he has with Bumgarner. Before Monday’s game, Bochy said that he considered using Bumgarner as the designated hitter during the series finale with the Texas Rangers in Arlington earlier this month. He had some high praise for his slugger.

"“He’s a legit hitter. He’s not a pitcher I think you hit eighth. He could hit seventh.”"

A “legit hitter”, Bumgarner very much is. While the 26-year-old lefty strikes fear into hitters when he toes the rubber, no pitcher strikes fear into his counterparts like Bumgarner when he takes his place in the batter’s box. He’s as much of a dual threat as there is in baseball.

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