I was reading something today after I got home from work about how Chris Von der Ahe acquired Dave Foutz in 1884 and I went to Baseball-Reference to see if they had anything about the transaction. Scrolling down to the transactions section of Foutz's B-R page, I noticed a few things. First, the two most similiar pitchers to Foutz are Dizzy Dean and Mort Cooper. I thought that was pretty neat. The second thing I noticed though was that, at a glance, Foutz had a lot of top ten finishes in various catagories but didn't have much black ink or gray ink. I thought that was kind of odd and went back to look at it in detail.
While I knew that Foutz was a good hitter what I found surprised me. Foutz wasn't just a good hitter. Foutz was a great hitter and between 1886 and 1890 he was one of the best hitters in the game. During his five year peak as a hitter, Foutz posted an OPS+ of 111, 138, 119, 110, and 132. He was in the top five in RBI's every year between 1887 and 1890. He was also in the top ten in runs created during that period.
Those are rather extraordinary numbers when you consider that Foutz was also an elite pitcher. While his peak as a pitcher didn't exactly overlap with his peak as a hitter, from 1886 to 1888 Foutz must have been something to see. From 1886 to 1888, he finished in the top ten in ERA every year, winning the ERA title in 1886. He was also finished in the top ten in wins in 1886 and 1887.
Think about it. In 1887, Foutz finished in the top ten in RBI, runs created, ERA, and wins. In 1888, he finished in the top ten in RBI, runs created, and RBI. For two years, Foutz was both an elite pitcher and hitter. Off the top of my head, the only other person I can think of who did something comparable is Babe Ruth in 1918. Certainly, in the history of baseball, there have been pitchers who were good hitters. There have been pitchers who also played in the field. But besides Foutz and Ruth, I can't think of any player since the advent of "organized" baseball who was both an elite pitcher and an elite hitter.