Fish Bites: Pitch Hitting for the Marlins, Carlos Zambrano

You wanted me to be more serious right? I went real life on you. Be prepared to see more action than usual next season at the bottom of the batting order for the Miami Marlins. There are no more cheap outs when the pitcher comes up to bat. These starting pitchers are so talented, they can even bat a little.

In the National League, teams don't expect much from the last spot in the batting order. That is when pitchers come to bat. In fact, opposing pitchers love the number nine hitter because it usually translates to an easier out. The only exceptions in recent years are Mike Hampton, Micah Owings, or Tony La Russa. The first two can hit. In the case of the now retired ex-manager of the Cardinals, he kept things interesting by batting pitchers in the eighth spot during the regular season.

However, through free agency and trade, the Marlins this off season have added two starting pitchers that can hit (Buehrle and Big Z). And now that you can pair them with Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, the manager has a formidable hitting crew. Let me show you their career batting numbers.

1, Mr. All or Nothing, Carlos Zambrano: .646 OPS, 23 HR, 69 RBI in 708 PA (plate appearances)

2. Mr. RBI, Josh Johnson: .372 OPS, 3 HR, 23 RBI in 256 PA

3. Mr. Finally, Mark Buehrle: .316 OPS, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 8 SH (sacrifice hits) in 56 PA

4. Mr. Sacrifice, Ricky Nolasco: .349 OPS, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 44 SH in 319 PA

Big Z's 23 home runs lead all active players by a huge margin. He goes up there looking for it. Speaking of homers, many Marlins fans remember the bomb Josh Johnson hit to dead center a few years ago. He is a big guy and has the power to spare form the left side. As for Buehrle, for years baseball people said that if he ever went to the National League, it would get interesting. Aside from being an exceptional fielder, Buehrle loves to hit. Now he'll get to show it for a full season, and not just interleague. Lastly, Nolasco is a great story. He finished with 11 sacrifice hits in 2011 (five away from the leader for pitchers, Doc Halladay who finished with 16). In fact, since 2008, Ricky has averaged more than nine sacrifice hits (bunts) a season.

Starting pitchers who bat a few times a game mean very little in the pursuit of 90-95 wins for the season. However, its a nice luxury to have for any manager. Especially when you can use these bats as pitch hitters in an extra inning game, or when you go into a game with a light bench because of injuries or suspensions. Just another great thing to look forward to this season.

- For fun, who do you think is the best Marlins hitting pitcher of all time? Without question its Dontrelle Willis (who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this off season by the way). But would anyone consider Alex Fernandez, Ryan Dempster, Livan Hernandez, or Pat Rapp as worthy contenders? What's even more amazing is that for only being in business since 1992, the Marlins have had a great hitting pitchers throughout. This year will be no different.

- Back to the Marlins recent acquisition from the Cubs... For anyone who thinks Carlos Zambrano is insane, I do too. But that is only on the field. He has a soft side to him. Juan C. Rodriguez reports Big Z is in Guatemala right now trying to finalize an adoption of a young boy named Kenneth. What's not crazy is how much this boy will love Zambrano and his new family. Just a great thing some athletes do.

- Just five weeks after he had surgery on his knee, Joe Capozzi says LoMo is walking around without a limp. Which is great news. Hopefully we can see him at the start of spring training.

- Where will I be Wednesday, April 4 at 7pm? Hopefully in the new stadium getting ready to witness the first pitch of the regular season against the Cardinals.

- Recent Ozzie Guillen tweet about the new line-up that includes Hanley sliding to third base, "we be nasty." Ozzie, I agree with you. The Marlins batting order one through six should wreak havoc.

Around the League

- Very interesting article I came across from Bill Petti this week. The more powerful the hitter, the less clutch they are. Some of it has to do with how much they strike out. So if your looking for clutch, look for a ground ball hitter instead.

- The Astros, who are in rebuilding mode, have claimed ex-phenom Fernando Martinez off of waivers from the Mets. Good move because Martinez is only 23 years old.

- Scott Boras is being shut out on Prince Fielder. MLB is tired of the guy and his antics with free agents. So teams are not caving into his demands. However, he is working his magic with another player. He met with Hal Steinbrenner recently about Edwin Jackson. Yanks need pitching.

At Fish Stripes

- Mr. Jong writes about the key edition this off season for the Marlins, pitchers. Its the hurlers that could translate to more wins next season.

- Please vote for the Florida Marlins all time shortstop below. Interesting, all three are still active players.

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