Pinch hitter

For other uses, see Pinch hitter (cricket).

In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter. Batters can be substituted at any time while the ball is dead (not in active play); the manager may use any player that has not yet entered the game as a substitute. Unlike basketball, American football, or ice hockey however, baseball does not have a "free substitution rule" and thus the replaced player in baseball is never allowed back into that game.

Pinch hitters are often used to replace a starting player when the pinch hitter is thought to have a better chance of reaching base or helping other runners to score. (In slang, a " pinch" is a desperate situation.)

In the National League of Major League Baseball, the Central League in Japan, and various other minor leagues, pinch hitters are often substituted for the pitcher in the middle or late innings of a game. This is because pitchers are often poor hitters and get tired after six to seven innings of pitching. This use of a pinch hitter is often part of a double switch, in which a relief pitcher replaces a defensive player who will not bat soon, and a defensive player replaces the former starting pitcher that is currently up to bat. This strengthens the lineup in the short term by preventing the relief pitcher from batting and allowing a better hitter to bat. Compared to a single substitution of a pinch hitter for a pitcher, this allows the relief pitcher to pitch additional innings. A Pinch Hitter can be substituted at any time in an at-bat.

The American League of Major League Baseball, the Pacific League in Japan, and various other leagues use the designated hitter rule; thus pitchers seldom bat, removing a possible situation where a pinch hitter may be desired.

MLB all-time pinch hit leaders

This is a list of pinch hitters with the most hits in Major League Baseball. (Names which appear in bold are active players. Includes games through September 30, 2007.)

Lenny Harris 212
Mark Sweeney 163
Manny Mota 150
Smoky Burgess 145
Greg Gross 143
Dave Hansen 138
John Vander Wal     129
José Morales 123
Orlando Palmeiro 120
Jerry Lynch 116
Red Lucas 114
Steve Braun 113
Terry Crowley 108
Denny Walling 108
Gates Brown 107
Jim Dwyer 103
Mike Lum 103
Rusty Staub 100
Dave Clark   96
Larry Biittner   95
Vic Davalillo   95
Gerald Perry   95
Jerry Hairston   94
Dave Philley   93
Joel Youngblood   93
Jay Johnstone   92
Dave Magadan   92
Elmer Valo   90

All-time pinch hit records

  • Most pinch hit at-bat

Lenny Harris – 804

  • Most pinch hits career

Lenny Harris – 212

  • Most pinch hit grand slams

Rich Reese, Willie McCovey, Ron Northey – tied with three each

  • Most pinch hit home runs

Cliff Johnson – 20

Single season pinch hits records

  • Most pinch hits

John Vander Wal – 28 (1995)

  • Most pinch hit at-bats

Lenny Harris – 83 (2001)

  • Most pinch hit games

Lenny Harris – 95 (2001)

  • Most consecutive pinch hits

Dave Philley and Rusty Staub – tied with eight each (1958 and 1983)

  • Most pinch hit home runs

Dave Hansen and Craig Wilson – tied with seven each (2000 and 2001)

  • Most pinch hit RBI

Joe Cronin, Jerry Lynch, Rusty Staub – tied with 25 each (1943, 1961 and 1983)

  • Most pinch hit walks

Matt Franco – 20 (1999)

Pinch hit home runs

  • The following players have been called into a game and hit a pinch-hit home run during their first ever Major League at-bat:

American League
Date Name Team Inning
04-30-1937 Ace Parker Philadelphia 9th Inning
09-05-1962 John Kennedy Washington 6th Inning
06-19-1963 Gates Brown Detroit 5th Inning
09-30-1964 Bill Roman Detroit 7th Inning
09-12-1965 Brant Alyea Washington 6th Inning
08-07-1968 Joe Keough Oakland 8th Inning
04-07-1977 Al Woods Toronto 5th Inning

National League
Date Name Team Inning
4-21-1898 Bill Duggleby Philadelphia
04-14-1936 Eddie Morgan St. Louis 7th Inning
05-21-1948 Les Layton New York 9th Inning
09-14-1950 Ted Tappe Cincinnati 8th Inning
04-12-1955 Chuck Tanner Milwaukee 8th Inning
09-08-1998 Marlon Anderson Philadelphia 7th Inning
04-17-2001 Gene Stechschulte St. Louis 6th Inning
08-21-2005 Mike Jacobs New York 5th Inning
09-01-2005 Jeremy Hermida Florida 7th Inning
09-11-2007 Justin Maxwell Washington 4th Inning
09-08-2008 Mark Saccomanno Houston 5th Inning

Pinch hitting in cricket

In the 1996 Cricket World Cup an aggressive style of batting was created by Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, the opening pair for Sri Lanka. The strategy was to attack the bowling from the first ball and therefore take advantage of the fielding restrictions in the early overs. It was a risky approach as the batting side could lose early wickets; however, if it paid off (as it did for the Sri Lankan openers), it allowed a devastating start which would unsettle the bowlers and take the pressure off the middle order, often ensuring high scores. This method revolutionised the one day game as Sri Lanka won the World Cup against the odds. It has since been used throughout limited-over cricket, with the aggressive batsmen known as "pinch-hitters."

However, "pinch hitter" usually refers to an aggressive batsman moved up the batting order from his usual place, used in situations where scoring runs quickly becomes more important than keeping wickets in hand.

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See also


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