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2021 Dodgers set a record that might never be broken

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks
Yefry Ramírez was one of 26 Dodgers pitchers to bat in 2021, the most pitcher batters by one team in major league history.
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

With the designated hitter expected to come to the National League for good with a new collective bargaining agreement, that means that — except in rare instances — the days of pitchers hitting are behind us.

That means the 2021 Dodgers hold a record that might never be broken.

It’s not that Los Angeles had 39 different pitchers last season. That was eight more pitchers than the Dodgers have used in any other season in franchise history, but six MLB teams used more pitchers in 2021, a byproduct of going from a 60-game schedule to 162 games.

But where the 2021 Dodgers stand out is that 26 different pitchers batted. This only counts batting as a pitcher, so the total isn’t inflated by the end-game pitching appearances by position players Andy Burns and Justin Turner.

No team in major league history has used more pitchers to bat than last year’s Dodgers. The previous mark was 25 different pitcher batters, set by the 2006 Nationals and matched by the 2017 Reds.

Twenty-six pitcher batters is a lot, and it means a lot of relief pitchers bringing a bat to the plate. Three Dodgers relievers picked up their first major league hits in 2021 — Garrett Cleavinger (a double, on July 10), Phil Bickford (July 16), and Edwin Uceta (August 15). Reliever Justin Bruihl walked in his first — and to date, only — major league plate appearance, on August 10 in Philadelphia, which he was sure to note on Thursday.

Links

  • This passage from Jeff Passan at ESPN nicely encapsulates MLB’s current labor divide, with respect to commissioner Rob Manfred: “Over the past two decades, MLB, with Manfred leading its negotiations, flipped the power dynamics that had tilted in favor of players. The league’s strategy worked to great effect, and the results played out over the past five years of the basic agreement that expired in December. Industry revenue grew. Salaries decreased. This simple fact underpins the radicalization of players, who see Manfred as the avatar for the ownership class he represents.”
  • Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs dug deep into Hall of Fame voting, and found that the 1969-92 period is underrepresented in Cooperstown, and that even more recent elections have produced even fewer Hall of Famers.
  • Patrick Dubuque at Baseball Prospectus aimed at finding the modern equivalent of the Mendoza Line, and came across a pair of Mariners catcher teammates.