In this two Wild Card-per-league era, October beckons. The vast majority of clubs are shooting for a playoff spot in 2015, stretching payrolls to reach that sweet spot on the win curve that unlocks new revenue streams and potential pennants. The result of that gamesmanship is relative parity — a bunch of pretty good squads who could win big with good health and timely breakouts, but few super teams who could roar past 100 wins. According to projections on Fangraphs, only the Nationals and Dodgers are forecast to top 90 victories. Eighteen clubs have at least a 25 percent chance of making the postseason. With little separating division winners from also-rans, every little advantage counts.
Which brings us to pitcher hitting. When we evaluate hurlers, we rarely consider how well they themselves avoid outs. But possessing pitchers who are at least semi-competitive at the plate can be a serious advantage. The difference between the worst and best-hitting pitching staffs is two to three wins in the standings — enough to swing division and Wild Card races. Finding pitchers who are quality hitters is easier said than done, though. The apex of pitcher hitting came during the days of The Babe, World War I and illegal booze.