I have a fascination with pitchers who show some consistency with the bat. I don’t mean who get one lucky swing for a homerun. I’m talking about those Carlos Zambranos, Mike Stantons, and Livan Hernandezes who break the mold of the stereotype of a weak hitting pitcher.
Steve Dunning was one of those. Or rather, he could have been one those. Drafted #2 overall by Cleveland in 1970 out of Stanford, Dunning showed he could pitch okay but really showed something with his bat. In his second year, he drove in seven runs with a double and a homer. Then in 1972, he hit three homeruns in 33 at-bats for the Indians.
Then the worst thing for a good hitting AL pitcher happened. Major League Baseball adopted the Designated Hitter. It wasn’t until four years later when Steve Dunning was picked up by the Montreal Expos did he pick up another bat. He did manage to hit two singles in fifteen at-bats that year but the luster was gone from Dunning’s swing apparently.
Regardless, Steve Dunning’s 1972 card is quite fun. Aside from the 1-1-1-6, he’s got a 44-7 and three 14s. As a plus, he is rated (F)ast too which quite honestly is always a plus (an extra pinch runner is always nice).
I’m interested in Dunning’s Grade C too. This is based on his 3.26 ERA and 6-4 record in 105 innings pitched. The AL ERA in 1972 was 3.06 so perhaps it wasn’t out of line. But I do think there is an element of downgrading due to limited playing time that we don’t see as much any more.
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