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DH rule takes away D-backs’ advantage of having Madison Bumgarner hit

MIAMI, FL - MAY 28: Pitcher Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants takes batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

There are not many pitchers who arrive to a team with a fanbase that is excited to see them do something else besides pitch, but Madison Bumgarner qualifies.

The new Arizona Diamondbacks ace is one of the most prolific power-hitting pitchers ever. Among all pitchers since 1975, Bumgarner is second in homers with 19, only trailing Carlos Zambrano’s 24.

In the last decade, Bumgarner among pitchers is second in hits (105), first in runs scored (51), tied for third in doubles (18) and had eight more homers (19) than anyone else.

The D-backs are going to have far less opportunities to put that power to real use, though, with a universal DH being implemented for the shortened 2020 season.

Beyond how much fun it is, there’s obviously an edge the D-backs no longer have in National League games with Bumgarner’s hitting compared to the opposing starting pitcher.

“Playing by the NL rules with Madison Bumgarner hitting would be an incredible advantage to the Diamondbacks,” manager Torey Lovullo said Thursday.

Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen both fancy themselves as baseball traditionalists, and you couldn’t help but notice Hazen being a bit bummed out that baseball took this element out of the game.

“I love watching MadBum go out there and swing it,” Hazen said Wednesday. “Same with (Zack) Greinke and others. I’m not going to lie. It’s part of the game that I think is unique.”

But that doesn’t prevent Lovullo from using Bumgarner still as a pinch-hitter and even pinch-runner. The question, however, is if he will, and the manager didn’t sound like he was leaning in that direction for the short term.

“Madison Bumgarner for right now is going to be one of our five starting pitchers and I want him to focus on that,” Lovullo said. “As far as his hitting, I think we might have to compartmentalize that for a little while and talk about him hitting next year in 2021.

“But I don’t want to take everything off the table. This guy can bang the baseball, and I saw it first-hand in 2017 to open the season. I don’t want to say that he’s not going to hit but I’m gonna say that I want him to focus on one thing and that’s getting ready to take the mound every fifth day.”

All statistics via Baseball-Reference

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