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Pinch-hitting in each of the first 11 games of the season

Posted by Andy on March 14, 2011

Since 1920, two players are tied for the record for pinch-hitting in each of his team's first 11 games of the season.

1 John Vander Wal 1995 11 Ind. Games 10 8 5 2 0 1 6 2 2 .625 .700 1.250 1.950 0 0 0 0 0
2 Frank Catalanotto 2010 11 Ind. Games 10 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .100 .100 .100 .200 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/13/2011.

Technically, I guess what I wrote above is wrong, since each guy is credited with 11 pinch-hitting appearances but didn't actually bat in one of the 11 games.

For Vander Wal, he pinch-hit in the crazy 1995 Opening Day game between the Mets and Rockies. I'm guessing the pitcher was relieved right after Vander Wal was announced, as Eric Young (Sr.) then immediately hit for Vander Wal.

It looks to be a similar deal for Catalanotto in the Mets' second game of the season last year.

The next-longest streaks are:

9 games by Greg Norton in 2009


8 games by Jerry Turner in 1978 and Jack Howell in 1996.

11 Responses to “Pinch-hitting in each of the first 11 games of the season”

  1. mikeyjax Says:

    Looking at JVW's career stats - one thing comes to mind that would be interesting to research is his G to PA ratio. He averaged LESS than 3 per game. Not counting P'ers, I'm thinking this has to be pretty unique especially with the # of appearences.

  2. dukeofflatbush Says:

    In Vander's first 1000 games, he had 2024 PAs, then became a semi-regular through the 2000-2001 seasons. But before then, 1991-1999 had 1504 PA in 849 Gs. If you add g=his first 26 games of the 2000 season, he has only 55 PA.
    So his career starts off at 1559 PA in 875 G in his first 9+ seasons. That's less than 2 a game.
    Then has a stretch of 4 years of 1555 in 455 Gs. More than 3 a game in his mid thirties. Which is just n audition in the small market, to be used as trade bait to go back to a pinch hitter in NY and SF.

  3. Artie Z Says:

    @mikeyjax - It looks like Vander Wal has a shade over 2.3 PAs per game. The only players that I find, with at least 2000 PAs, with less per game are:

    Mark Sweeney, 1.75
    Lenny Harris, 2.25
    Gene Stephens, 2.28
    Dave Hansen, 1.71
    Orlando Palmeiro, 2.24
    Ty Cline, 2.29
    Rafael Belliard, 2.19

    Dave Bergman is under 2.31 but slightly above Vander Wal. I don't know much about Cline or Stephens, but the rest seem to be basically "career pinch-hitters". Except for Belliard of course - he seems to be a "career defensive replacement". Cline seems to have had about 15% of his career PAs as a pinch hitter, while Dave Hansen had about 1/3 of his (not sure if that makes Cline a "career pinch hitter").

  4. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Gregg Gross had a similar career after '76.
    His first 3 full seasons he played in 416 Gs with 1735 PAs, or 4 per G.
    Then 77-89 Gross played in 1379 Gs with just 2577 PAs. Again fewer than 2 a game.
    I can't imagine a guy relegated to a switch hitter's status remaining as sharp as Gross did for so long. 13 years with maybe only a dozen starts a year.
    I guess Giambi is fine with his role as Pinch Hitter deluxe for the Rox.
    Its just a bit stranger that Giambi probably could be a full time DH in a small market central club - KC or CL. Maybe even make a run at 500.

  5. Mike Says:

    "Today is gonna be the day
    That they're gonna pinch hit for you,
    By know you should've somehow
    Realized it's gonna be Vander Wal
    I don't believe that anybody
    Feels that you can come through

    Backbeat the word thoughout the league
    Is that the fire in your bat is out
    I'm sure, you've heard it all before
    But the manager has his doubts
    don't believe that anybody
    Feels that you can come through"

    Ok people stop me, or help complete this song!

  6. John Autin Says:

    Interesting that Vander Wal played for 7 different teams in the last 7 years of his career, while posting a composite 114 OPS+.

    Mike @5 -- You don't need our help, you're doing just fine!
    (But what have you got for Catalanotto?)

  7. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Vander Wall also did a pretty unique thing in '95. He became just the 16th player to appear in > 100 Gs while having G>AB.
    One player whom really stands out on that list is Jerry Martin of the 76 Phils, whom appeared in 130 Gs with only 121 AB. That's over 80% of the Phils' games that year, with only about 18% of a regular's ABs. He also had just 129 PA in 130 G.

  8. Doug Says:

    If you include the end of 2009, Catalanatto had 18 consecutive PH appearances.

    And 31 of last 32 career appearances were PH (as of now, but I think Frank's career is probably done, or should be).

    For 2009 and 2010, Catalanatto had 58 PH appearances, with a 0.425 OPS in those appearances. Ouch. He certainly was given a reasonable chance to prolong his career as a PH, but it hasn't worked.

  9. John H. Says:

    Anyone know who had the most PH appearances in a season?

  10. Thomas Says:

    Lenny Harris in 2001 had 95 games that he entered as a pinch hitter.

    If you limit it to ONLY played in the game as a pinch hitter, meaning the player didn't pinch hit then go play a position it's Rusty Staub in 1983 with 94. Lenny Harris' 2001 season drops to 10th with 'only' 81 appearances.

  11. John Autin Says:

    Jack Howell's 8-game PH streak to start the 1996 season included a pinch-hit HR on Opening Day that marked his return to American baseball after 4 years in Japan. That was also the last HR ever allowed by Cris (not Chris) Carpenter.