These days, it's fairly rare for pitchers to get big at-bats in games. What I really mean is that when the score is close late in a game, especially when there are runners on base, in most cases the pitcher up at bat will be removed for a pinch-hitter. In the National League, these situations are often avoided altogether by use of double-switches late in games to ensure that the pitcher will not come to bat unless there has already been a significant rally.
Sometimes, however, pitchers do bat with runners on base late in games. Most often, this happens in cases where the pitcher is actually a good hitter and may be a better option than any of the bench players (when adding in the consideration that he'll return to the mound to pitch the next inning) or very late in a game when the manager is loathe to relieve the pitcher and would prefer to take his chances letting him hit.
Here are the instances in the 2009 season when a pitcher batted from the 7th inning onwards with at least one runner on base and produced an RBI for his team.
|1||1||2009-04-18||Will Ohman||LAD||COL||Ryan Speier||ahead 8-3||1B||b 7||1-3||2||5 (2-2)||1||Single to RF (Ground Ball thru 2B-1B); Kemp Scores/Team unER; Ausmus to 3B|
|2||1||2009-05-09||Eric Stults||LAD||SFG||Osiris Matos||ahead 6-0||1B||b 8||-23||1||1 (0-0)||1||Single to RF (Line Drive to Short CF-RF); Blake Scores/unER; Castro to 3B|
|3||1||2009-05-11||Osiris Matos||SFG||WSN||Joel Hanrahan||ahead 10-4||1B||b 8||1-3||2||3 (1-1)||1||Single to 2B (Ground Ball to 2B-1B); Rowand Scores; Lewis to 2B|
|4||1||2009-05-21||Aaron Cook||COL||@ATL||James Parr||ahead 8-0||Out||t 7||--3||1||5 (0-2)||1||Flyball: CF/Sacrifice Fly (Deep CF); Barmes Scores|
|5||1||2009-06-05||Jorge de la Rosa||COL||@STL||Dennys Reyes||ahead 2-1||BB||t 7||123||0||5 (3-1)||1||Walk; Stewart Scores; Smith to 3B; Phillips to 2B|
|6||1||2009-06-28||Mariano Rivera||NYY||@NYM||Francisco Rodrig||ahead 3-2||BB||t 9||123||2||7 (3-2)||1||Walk; Cabrera Scores; Gardner to 3B; Jeter to 2B|
|8||2||2009-06-30||Jason Marquis||COL||@LAD||Chad Billingsley||ahead 1-0||1B||t 7||123||2||2 (1-0)||2||Single to LF (Line Drive); Hawpe Scores; Stewart Scores; Iannetta out at 3B/LF-3B-SS|
|10||2||2009-07-05||Roy Oswalt||HOU||@SFG||Merkin Valdez||ahead 5-0||1B||t 8||-23||2||6 (3-2)||2||Single to LF (Line Drive to LF-CF); Michaels Scores; Keppinger Scores; Oswalt out at 2B/P-2B|
|11||1||2009-07-11||Craig Stammen||WSN||@HOU||Jeff Fulchino||ahead 9-2||2B||t 7||-2-||0||1 (0-0)||1||Double to RF (Ground Ball); Gonzalez Scores|
|12||1||2009-07-18||Dan Haren||ARI||@STL||Josh Kinney||ahead 2-1||BB||t 8||123||2||5 (3-1)||1||Walk; Reynolds Scores; Montero to 3B; Young to 2B|
|13||1||2009-08-04||Guillermo Mota||LAD||MIL||R.J. Swindle||ahead 16-4||1B||b 8||-2-||2||1 (0-0)||1||Single to RF (Line Drive to Deep CF-RF); Ethier Scores|
|14||1||2009-08-16||Randy Wolf||LAD||@ARI||Blaine Boyer||ahead 7-0||2B||t 8||1--||0||2 (0-1)||1||Double to RF (Ground Ball); Castro Scores|
|15||1||2009-08-24||Adam Eaton||COL||SFG||Justin Miller||down 1-4||BB||b14||123||1||5 (3-1)||1||Walk; Fowler Scores; Iannetta to 3B; Tulowitzki to 2B|
|16||1||2009-09-06||Micah Owings||CIN||@ATL||Kenshin Kawakami||tied 2-2||HBP||t12||123||1||2 (0-1)||1||Hit By Pitch; Votto Scores; Rolen to 3B; Balentien to 2B|
|17||1||2009-09-08||Ryan Dempster||CHC||@PIT||Virgil Vasquez||ahead 8-2||1B||t 7||-23||1||1 (0-0)||1||Single to LF (Ground Ball); Soto Scores; Fukudome to 3B|
|18||1||2009-09-25||Carlos Zambrano||CHC||@SFG||Tim Lincecum||ahead 1-0||Out||t 7||1-3||1||1 (0-0)||1||Groundout: SS-2B/Forceout at 2B (Weak SS); Scales Scores|
|19||2||2009-09-25||Carlos Zambrano||CHC||@SFG||Randy Johnson||ahead 2-0||2B||t 9||1--||2||2 (0-1)||1||Double to LF (Line Drive to Deep LF-CF); Fuld Scores|
Because of the rarity of this event, as we might expect, we see some strange instances on this list.
Here are some observations on this group:
- Indeed there are a number of good-hitting pitchers in this group, including Zambrando, Marquis, and Owings.
- Zambrano is the only player to do it twice this season and he managed to do it twice in the same game, which is pretty amazing. That must be a pretty memorable game for Zambrano. He got RBIs off Tim Lincecum and Randy Johnson and pitched a 3-0 shutout. Nice.
- Four of the RBI were bases-loaded walks, which can be blamed entirely on the pitcher (the one who was pitching, I mean, not the pitcher who was hitting.) The RBI walk by Mariano Rivera is especially egregious, given that it was only his 3rd career plate appearance.
- Owings got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the 12th inning, a +19% WPA play, and batted in the eventual winning run.
- Perhaps the weird entry of all on this list is Adam Eaton's. He came to bat in the bottom of the 14th inning after having given up 3 runs in the top of the inning. The Rockies came to bat in the bottom of the 14th with just a 5% chance to win by the Win Expectancy measure. With 2 singles and a walk sandwiching an out, the Rockies loaded the bases but increased their chances to just 21%. Eaton batted and walked, driving in a run and pushing the odds to 34%. The Ryan Spilborghs hit a walk-off grand slam, adding in the extra 66% and giving the win to the Rockies. That means that despite pitching only one inning, Eaton had a -31% contribution to the win but at the plate he had a +13%.
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