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Do Me a Favor … Nevermind

Posted by Raphy on February 28, 2008

A recent comment by fabio in my "Unexpected At-Bats" post got me thinking about pinch hitters who were pulled. Unless I'm missing something (please let me know) a pinch hitter can end a game with 0 plate appearances in one of 5 ways.

1) His only plate appearance can be the completion of a previous batter's strikeout. Here is a sample made mostly of such at bats.

2) A base runner could be put out, ending the inning or game.

3) A base runner could score, ending the game.

4) The game could be called in the middle of his plate appearance.

5) The pinch hitter himself is pinch hit for.

Clearly #5 is much more common than 1-4. Here are the career leaders for games as a PA-less pinch hitter.

 Dave Hansen          63 Ind. Games
 Lenny Harris         44 Ind. Games
 John Vander Wal      35 Ind. Games
 Matt Franco          29 Ind. Games
 Terry Crowley        27 Ind. Games

As you would expect, this list consists of players who could only hit from one side of the plate and whose managers pulled them as soon as there was a pitching change made.

However, it is interesting to note that this strategy seems to have lost popularity in recent seasons. As this list shows, this event has become a lot less common in the last few seasons than it was less than a decade ago.

7 Responses to “Do Me a Favor … Nevermind”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Big bullpens --> short bench --> less pinch hitting, esp. twice in one AB.

  2. Raphy Says:

    Johnny, is that less pinch hitting part true? I took a quick look at 2007 as compared to 1996 and the number of games with multiple pinch hitters isn't any less.

  3. Samurai Sam Says:

    I don't fully understand situation number one. Are you saying that if a batter is pinch-hit for in the middle of a count, and the pinch-hitter strikes out, the original batter is given the strikeout?

  4. Raphy Says:

    mlb rule 10.15(b):
    When a batter leaves the game with two strikes against him, and the substitute batter
    completes a strikeout, the official scorer shall charge the strikeout and the time at
    bat to the first batter. If the substitute batter completes the turn at bat in any other
    manner, including a base on balls, the official scorer shall score the action as having
    been that of the substitute batter."

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Raphy, how do you get those breakouts? I tried running Batter Events for a year, all teams, and all plate appearances. I assume you can break it down to PH appearances after that? But trying to pull up all PA seems too much for the server and it just spins its wheels for a long time. Does it eventually come up after 15 minutes or something?

  6. Raphy Says:

    Johnny- Try searching for triples first, then apply the pinch hitter filter. Once you've done that you can change triples to PA without a problem.

  7. Johnny Twisto Says:

    According to your 2007 chart, more than 2 PH were used in a game 20.8% of the time, and there was an average of 1.14 PH per game. I checked 1977, and more than 2 PH were used in a game only 18.8% of the time, and 1.13 per game. But back in 1957, more than 2 PH were used 25.5% of the time, with 1.36 per game. So that's pretty surprising. From this small sample, it looks like smaller benches may not be resulting in fewer PH used. The DH is probably a much bigger influence.