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Mailbag: Pitchers whose first PA of a game came before their first pitch

Posted by Neil Paine on April 20, 2011

B-R reader Blake had an interesting question this morning:

"You folks are great at acquiring information like this, so I would like to ask:

Could you produce a list of the occasions when a visiting team starting pitcher has had an AB before he has thrown his first pitch in a ballgame?"

Using the Play Index Batting Event Finder, you can set up a search for all PAs in a given year range by a visiting pitcher in the 1st inning:

All of MLB: 189 Plate Appearances in 2003-2011, during 1st Inning, Away Games and As P

Of those 189 instances since 2003:

  • All but two teams -- the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays -- had a pitcher bat before throwing a pitch. The leaders, predictably, are all NL teams; St. Louis saw this happen an MLB-high 15 times, while the Padres and D-Backs had it happen 14 times apiece. The Twins and Angels led the AL with 3 instances apiece.
  • Pittsburgh pitchers allowed it to happen the most, as they saw their counterpart in the top of the 1st 25 times. Right behind them were the Rockies (20) and Reds (17).
  • The visiting pitcher hit .110/.148/.134, which sort of hampers your chances of making it all the way back to the top of the order -- although away leadoff men also saw a second 1st-inning PA 96 times over the same time span.

Here's how often it happened each season:

Year Count
2003 25
2004 26
2005 21
2006 29
2007 27
2008 26
2009 15
2010 16
2011 4

Finally, here are all of the pitchers since 2003 who had multiple games where they either batted before throwing a pitch, or allowed the opposing P to bat before throwing a pitch:

18 Responses to “Mailbag: Pitchers whose first PA of a game came before their first pitch”

  1. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Gee, I thought this might be "...start a career."

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    I see why you may have thought that. I changed the title to read "first PA of a game".

  3. BSK Says:

    "St. Louis saw this happen an MLB-high 15 times" I wonder how many of these came with the pitcher batting 8th, as LaRussa is prone to do at times.

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    Of the 189 instances, the P was in the 9-hole 178 times and the 8-hole 11 times... I'm guessing all of those 11 are LaRussa.

  5. Chris Says:

    Didn't Bronson Arroyo's first plate appearance in the majors come before he threw his first major league pitch?

  6. Logan Says:

    A more interesting case, to me, is relievers who have had a plate appearance before throwing a pitch. In this case, they would be scored as PH and P, which you can do with the Batting Game Finder. There have been 32 such games in the same timeframe. The leaders are Brooks Kieschnick (6), Joey Eischen (3), Micah Owings (3), and T.J. Tucker (3). The only AL pitchers to do it in those years were in inter-league games, although Catfish Hunter did it in 1976 and Joel Finch in 1979, both DH-era games in which the DH had left the game.

    (In Catfish's game, he PHed in the top of the 6th while being the pitcher of record. That boggles the mind. And then in the bottom of the 6th, he got back on the mound. Is this legal in some way I'm not aware of?)

  7. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    @5 - Chris: No, Arroyo's first game was a home game.

  8. pm Says:

    What about batting twice in that inning? What's the closest time it almost happened?

  9. BSK Says:

    Thanks, Neil. I didn't think it would be quite that strong a factor. Seems like they probably would be one of the low teams if we were only looking at 9-hole pitchers.

    FWIW, can we run a similar search for the AL to see how often the 9-hole hitter gets up in the 1st inning for the road team? Obviously, it doesn't have the same cache as a pitcher hitting before he pitches, but it'd give a sense of how often the general phenomenon of sending 9 or more batters to the plate in the top of the first and whether it is more common in one league than the other for any reason.

  10. Richard Chester Says:


    The game you are referring to took place on June 13, 2000. Arroyo pinch-hit on June 12.

  11. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Just a side note:
    Frankie "Father-in-Law-Fighter" Rodriguez just had his first plate appearance in over 530 + games.
    I think Mariano Rivera has never had an AB. 900+ games and counting.
    He may be the first, not counting non-players, HOF inductee to never have an AB.

  12. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Sorry, Mo Rivera has 4 PAs and 3 ABs. I think, my train of thought, may have been, first HOFer with 0 hits.

  13. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Single Season, most games no PA, is surprisingly a NLer.
    Pedro Feliciano, 92 games, 0 PA, 2010, NYM.
    All time:
    Buddy Groom, 786 G, 0 PA.
    As a starter,
    Mike Flanagan, who played in a perfect, post-DH/pre-interleague era.

  14. John Autin Says:

    The following game missed Neil's cutoff by 50 years, but it's still worth a quick look:

    On May 10, 1953, pitcher Dave Hoskins pinch-hit for Bob Feller in the top of the 7th with Cleveland down 3-0 and hit a double off Virgil Trucks. He finished the game with a batting line of 3-2-2-4 (including a 2-out, 3-run HR in the 8th that put Cleveland up 4-3) and a pitching line of 3 IP, 0 runs, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, and a win in his first MLB decision.

    That was just the 3rd MLB game for Hoskins. The year before, in the class-AA Texas League, he had gone 22-10 with a 2.12 ERA in 280 IP -- in his first full season as a professional pitcher, after 3 years playing mostly OF. He also batted .328 in '52, with 7 doubles in 128 AB.

    Not a bad showing for the first black player in Texas League history.

  15. John Autin Says:

    I forgot to add (@14) that Hoskins had a 0.582 WPA as a batter in that game, the highest for any substitute pitcher in the WPA era. (Second is 0.485 by Gene Conley in 1960.)

    P.S. The 4th highest batting WPA for a substitute pitcher is .476 by the inimitable Satchel Paige on 6/3/1952, a 3-2 win for the Browns in 17 innings. Satchel came on in the 12th with 1 out and 2 aboard and got a GDP to end the inning. He pitched scoreless ball the rest of the way, earning a pitching WPA of 0.891. Meanwhile, as a batter, he singled in each of his 3 trips, the last one plating the go-ahead run from 2nd base with 2 out in the 17th. It was the only 3-hit game of his MLB career (he went just 12 for 124), and his only game with batting WPA above 0.078.

  16. Brent Says:


    In the Catfish Hunter case, Billy Martin made the very unusual move of moving his DH into the field (Cesar Tovar started as the DH and then replaced Sandy Alomar Sr. at 2B in the 6th inning). Because of that, there was no longer a DH, so the Pitcher had to hit for himself from that point on. Since Tovar was still in the game, he continued to hit in the same spot and Hunter was inserted into the lineup in the batting position Alomar was previously hitting.

  17. oneblankspace Says:

    I remember Gary Gaetti had a PH-P game for the Cardinals, where he hit for the pitcher and stayed in to pitch (July 24, 1998 at Colorado). His other pitching appearance for the Birds on the Bat came in the bottom of the 8th in a game he had started at 3B (20 Sept '97 at Pittsburgh). For Chicago, he pitched the entire 8th, entering behind 19-8, in a game in Philadelphia that he had started at 3B.

  18. Peter Says:

    can you do the check to see if it was a player's debut? e.g. a pitcher who came up to bat even before he ever threw his first pitch in his career...