SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 26: Mike Hampton #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields on February 26, 2011in Scottsdale, Arizona.. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
One thing about Mike Hampton that made him valuable but wasn't related to his pitching? His hitting ability.
Hampton may have been one of the best hitting pitchers in team history. He could put down bunts, he was athletic enough to get around the bases and even had a little bit of pop.
I mean, he didn't have as much pop as J.R. Richard, who holds the team record for most HRs by a pitcher. No, Hampy was just a pretty good hitter at the plate. In seven season and 406 plate appearances with Houston, he had a .232/.298/.295 line with the second-most walks by a pitcher in team history.
Only five pitchers have more hits than Hampy's 78 in his Astros career and all of them had over 200 more plate appearances than him. He had solid bat control and good speed on the basepaths. How fast was he?
In his best season at the plate for Houston (1999), Hampton had a line of .311/.373/.432, which figured into an OPS+ of 105. Part of that was because Hampton had three triples in 88 plate appearances that season. He also had seven walks and a career-high 23 hits.
Did I mention that his two career stolen bases are tied for the most in team history by a pitcher? Only Richard, Danny Darwin and Mike Scott have as many.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about his ability to put down the sac bunt, only 13 pitchers had more than his 34 and he had by far the best career batting average of those guys.
It's a funny thing, asking pitchers to hit. The good ones are still pretty bad position players, if you compare their stats. But, I always liked seeing a good-hitting pitcher like Hampy, and I'll miss that once the Astros are in the AL.