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Post-season pinch-hit triples

Posted by Andy on November 7, 2010

Reader Kahuna Tuna brought this to my attention. There have been just 16 times that a player entered a post-season game as a pinch-hitter and hit a triple:

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO WPA BOP Pos. Summary
1 Aaron Rowand 2010-10-28 WS 2 SFG TEX W 9-0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0.002 9 PH
2 Brendan Harris 2009-10-09 ALDS 2 MIN NYY L 3-4 4 4 1 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0.005 8 PH 3B
3 Ruben Sierra 2003-10-22 WS 4 NYY FLA L 3-4 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0.403 7 PH
4 Tom Goodwin 2003-10-10 NLCS 3 CHC FLA W 5-4 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.169 8 PH
5 Doug Glanville 2003-10-10 NLCS 3 CHC FLA W 5-4 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0.380 2 PH LF
6 Pedro Feliz 2003-10-01 NLDS 2 SFG FLA L 5-9 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.126 9 PH
7 Al Martin 2001-10-20 ALCS 3 SEA NYY W 14-3 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 4 PH DH
8 John Vander Wal 1998-10-04 NLDS 4 SDP HOU W 6-1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0.069 5 PH
9 Dmitri Young 1996-10-13 NLCS 4 STL ATL W 4-3 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0.217 8 PH
10 Lonnie Smith 1992-10-11 NLCS 5 ATL PIT L 1-7 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.004 9 PH
11 Candy Maldonado 1989-10-28 WS 4 SFG OAK L 6-9 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.031 9 PH
12 Lenny Dykstra 1986-10-15 NLCS 6 NYM HOU W 7-6 5 4 1 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 -0.016 9 PH CF
13 Lynn Jones 1985-10-19 WS 1 KCR STL L 1-3 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.060 8 PH
14 Ty Cline 1970-10-03 NLCS 1 CIN PIT W 3-0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.286 9 PH LF
15 Andy Carey 1955-09-30 WS 3 NYY BRO L 3-8 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0.046 9 PH
16 Gene Woodling 1952-10-01 WS 1 NYY BRO L 2-4 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.121 9 PH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/7/2010.

Brendan Harris entered his game as a pinch-hitter in the 6th and indeed tripled immediately, driving in the first run of the game. This was the game that later featured a 2-run HR by A-Rod in the bottom of the 9th and a walk-off homer by Mark Teixeira in the 11th.

Lenny Dykstra also tripled in his first PA, coming in the top of the 9th of his game. The Mets rallied for 3 runs that inning, sending the game to extra innings. Many of you will remember this epic playoff game that went 16 innings in the end.

Notice that as rare an event as a post-season pinch-hit triple is, it still happened twice in the same game when speedsters Tom Goodwin and Doug Glanville both did it for the Cubs in 2003 against the Marlins. That was Game 3 of the NLCS, a few games before Steve Bartman became famous.

Of the 6 pinch-hit triples to come in the World Series, Aaron Rowand's this year was the first time it actually helped the team win the game. All of the previous ones came in losses.

Thanks to reader Kahuna Tuna for emailing me the post idea and most of the analysis too.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 7th, 2010 at 6:54 am and is filed under Game Finders, Postseason. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Post-season pinch-hit triples”

  1. The Marlins gave up *4* in one post-season, all coming off different pitchers!

  2. Granted, the are more rounds of playoffs now than ever, so more chances for unusual feats, and pinch-hitters are a more modern phenomena (not the "set it and forget it" lineup strategy of the early decades of baseball), but nothing before 1952? That's just sort of incredible to me, given that triples weren't an advent of the modern game.

    13/16 in the last 25 years.

    I suppose we could count the instances of a PH being used in the playoffs and it would follow the same frequency curve....

  3. Oh, and Lonnie Smith makes two incredible lists in the same month. This one, and the "players who played for both eventual world series teams in the same season" list, though this was a different WS.

  4. Dmitri Young's triple not only sparked the 3 run rally for the Cardinals in that game, but it was his first extra base hit in the Majors! Had the Cards not gone on to blow that 3-1 series lead, it would be up there among the franchise's greatest postseason moments...

  5. DoubleDiamond Says:

    At least four guys who played centerfield for the Phillies at some point in their career are on the list, although Lonnie Smith mainly played in left field. The others, of course, are Rowand, Glanville, and Dykstra.

  6. Fun list. But the only one of these that ultimately made a difference in his team winning or losing the series was Dykstra's in '86, game 6 of the NLCS. With the Mets trailing 3-0, he opened the 9th with a PH triple, and NYM rallied to send the game into extra innings. (And in the 16th, Dykstra's RBI single provided an insurance run that turned out to be crucial, as the Astros scored twice in the bottom half.)

    Dykstra played in 5 postseason series, and his lowest slugging average was .519; combined, he slugged .661 with a 1.094 OPS.

  7. @2, Zack -- I had the same gut feeling re: no PH triples before 1952, especially considering that triples were much more frequent in the dead-ball era. I thought it might be a general lack of triples in dead-ball WS, due to overflow crowds standing in the outfield, with consequent grounds rules turning potential triples into doubles. But a quick check reveals that the rate of triples in the WS through 1919 was roughly the same as it was during those regular seasons.

    So presumably it was a paucity of pinch-hitting, although that, too, sounds fishy. I'll report back....

  8. Update to mine @7 above....

    As someone speculated, there were a lot less pinch-hitters used in the World Series in the first half of the 20th century; the rate has more than doubled from what it was in the dead-ball era.

    -- In dead-ball WS (1903-19), there was an average of 0.68 PH-PA per team-game (128 PAs by players who entered as pinch-hitters, in 188 team-games).
    -- From 1920-51, there was an average of 1.11 PH-PA per team-game (408 PH-PA in 368 team-games).
    -- From 1952-2010, there was an average of 1.54 PH-PA per team-game (1043 PH-PA in 678 team-games).

    The main thing, though, is that the sample size is small enough to easily explain the variations in PH triples. For instance, based on the general rate of triples in the dead-ball era, there "should" have been about 2 WS PH triples. So the fact that there were none is not actually surprising.