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Ltlabner
03-14-2007, 08:19 PM
...no managers show a consistent ability to select pitch hitters from year to year. In fact, the correlation in the adjusted pitch hitter performance...from season to season is so close to zero as to be completey random...it's clear that no manager has shown the tallent to put his pinch hitters in a situation to succed more than any other managers.

Baseball Between the numbers, page 151.

Agree? Dissagree?

What players, if any, have been "successfull" as pinch hitters? Furthermore, how would you define "success" as a pinch hitter?

Any managers shown a knack for pitch hitting, despite the concluions drawn by the authors of the book cited above?

Other thoughts regarding pinch hitting?

ND_redsfan10
03-14-2007, 08:31 PM
I think an evaluation of a manager's pinch-hitting choices must recognize the body of knowledge from which a manager can base his decision. When a manager sees the pitcher due up and looks down the bench, what does he have to consider in a pinch-hit candidate?

-Candidate's history versus current pitcher
-Candidate's performance versus left/right handed pitching
-Candidate's ability to perform in similar clutch situations
-Candidate's general ability...to perform the task at hand (move a runner, get on base, lay down a bunt)
-Risk factor involved with "losing" a potential backup at the candidate's position (pinch hitting with a catcher, ex.)

Often times it seems like a manager is randomly running out different pinch hitters. I don't have the stats to back this up, but Jerry Narron is awfully fond of Javier Valentin - for good reason.

When it's all said and done, the fact that bench players are not good enough to be starters likely limits a manager's long-term potential to really have any sort of "knack" for selecting pinch-hitters.

Conclusion? It's really easy to to mis-use a pinch hit opportunity, and really difficult - and prone to chance - to successfully utilize the opportunity.

texasdave
03-14-2007, 08:42 PM
According to retrosheet.org here are the major league PHing numbers for the last five years:


2002 - .305/.342/.647 (obp/slg/ops)
2003 - .306/.344/.650
2004 - .312/.359/.671
2005 - .311/.338/.649
2006 - .302/.357/.659

I didn't realize pinch hitters did such a poor job. With these numbers pinch hitting for the pitcher is alright; but pinch hitting for just about anyone else doesn't seem like much of an idea.

HumnHilghtFreel
03-14-2007, 09:05 PM
What players, if any, have been "successfull" as pinch hitters? Furthermore, how would you define "success" as a pinch hitter?

Lenny Harris was pretty much a career PH

pedro
03-14-2007, 09:09 PM
In a Pinch
Baseball's Best One-Hit Wonders

by Robert Nishihara

On October 6, 2001, in a meaningless late season game between the New York Mets and the Montreal Expos, the Mets' utility infielder Lenny Harris lined a single into right field. Play was halted, and Harris' New York teammates rushed the field to greet him at first base.

The reason? Leonard Anthony Harris had just etched his name into the record books. Under the category "Most pinch-hits, career", the entry now reads, "Harris, Lenny ­ 151".

To better understand what Harris' record means, perhaps, it is best to first look at the unusual world of the pinch-hitter in baseball.

One of the keys to being a successful pinch-hitter is simply being available. That is, a player has to have demonstrated enough talent to be on the roster but not enough to be in the starting lineup and is, thus, available as a sub off the bench. However, the player also has to be good enough and poised enough to earn his manager's confidence to call on him regularly as a substitute. Indeed, it is this combination of a given player's availability for substitute duty and his manager's willingness to call on him that creates repeated pinch-hit opportunities.

Of course, the space between those opportunities is heavily punctuated by inactivity. Bench players often must wait. And wait. And wait for that elusive nod from a manager to get into a game. The ability to conjure up the patience required for all of this waiting mixed with the ability to instantaneously concentrate when called upon is something that some players do better than others. The steely nerves necessary for such a balancing act, weighing tedium and intense focus in equal terms, are not shared by all.

And a pinch-hitter's opportunity is distilled into a single at-bat per game, usually under some significant game situation pressure. At a moment's notice, he is expected to grab a helmet and bat, take a practice swing or two in the on-deck circle, and step into the batter's box ready to hit. It is baseball's equivalent of going from 0 to 60. And he must perform this task knowing that the spotlight will rarely if ever be his and that he will spend so much more time watching others play the game rather than be on the field himself taking part in the action.

And in this instance, at least, it seems harder to be the understudy than the star.

So, how did Lenny Harris, he of the most pinch-hits in baseball history, reach his particular crossroad with history?

Well, for openers, Harris has been good enough to be a major leaguer for fourteen years (and counting) but not good enough to be a major league starter. Hence, in his fourteen seasons in the big leagues, he's only topped the 400 at-bat mark in a season twice while failing to have as many as 200 at-bats in a season seven times. Thus, for most of his career he's had to be content with adding to his career totals in increments of a single at-bat per game. And those career totals, while serviceable at the major league level, are hardly the stuff of greatness. His career batting average is .271 (career slugging percentage, a paltry .350). He has 31 career homers, and 126 career steals.

So, what has kept Lenny Harris in the major leagues long enough for him to collect 151 pinch-hits?

Versatility is the key element to his longevity. At one time or another in his career, Harris has manned every position on the field except pitcher and catcher. And in this day and age of baseball rosters carrying eleven and sometimes even twelve pitchers, it is not surprising that a player who has at least a yeoman's knowledge of every position on the diamond, save pitcher and catcher, can find himself a spot on a major league roster. Of course, when Harris broke into the majors in 1988, there was much more unknown about his abilities than known. As with any young player, Harris' promotion to the major league level was accompanied by equal parts expectation and optimism, his value left to be determined over time. Harris ultimately defined his ability level, though: ordinary at the plate, versatile in the field, and possessing the uncanny knack for collecting pinch-hits. It turned out to be a legacy that was good enough to enable him to topple a record that stood for 21 seasons.

And what of the player Harris passed on his way to the top of the all-time pinch-hit list?

The previous record holder was Manny Mota, who had 150 career pinch-hits. Unlike Harris, Mota saw considerable playing time for much of his career as a fourth outfielder. He regularly accumulated between 300 and 400 at-bats a season and consistently batted over .300. His greatest season likely was 1966 when he hit .332 in 322 at-bats and finished with a .472 slugging percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After Mota lost a step in the field, he became a pinch-hitter exclusively. From 1973 to 1979, Manny Mota became something of an icon for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A Clark Kent of sorts, if you will. This creaky, old man sitting at the end of the bench would grab a bat and helmet, walk to the plate and somehow turn into Superman. His timely line drive base hits would routinely break the hearts of countless numbers of teams. Manny Mota finished his career with over 1,100 hits and a .304 lifetime average.

Prior to Mota, Forrest Burgess was the standard bearer for pinch-hitters. Fans of the 1950s and 1960s may better remember him as "Smoky" Burgess. And Burgess, of reasonable defensive prowess, appeared as a catcher, starting or otherwise, for most of his career. However, he also found time, among his stints with the Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, and Reds to acquire a legitimate reputation for delivering pinch-hits. By the time he retired, Burgess had accumulated 145 pinch-hits, a record that stood for over a decade. Smoky Burgess finished his career with over 1,300 hits, a .295 lifetime average, and 126 career homers.

Perhaps, the most interesting man to appear on the list of top pinch-hitters is the player ranked eighth, Red Lucas. Lucas was somewhat Ruthian in his achievements, that is, if you can truly describe someone with three career home runs as being "Ruthian". In this case, the term applies merely to the dual service of being both an accomplished pitcher and an accomplished batter during a given player's career and not to the gargantuan proportions of the Babe's batting heroics. Indeed, Red Lucas won 157 games over his 16-year career (1923-1938) and also managed to finish with a .281 lifetime batting average. In fact, Lucas' proficiency with the bat earned him the rare distinction of being a pitcher who was also a viable pinch-hitting option. And Lucas made the most of his opportunities, rapping out 114 pinch-hits in the course of his unique career.

However, the truth is that the most famous pinch-hitters are not measured by volume but rather by delivering a single hit (or handful of hits) at the right moment. Thus, Bernie Carbo is forever remembered for delivering a dramatic 3-run, pinch-homer for the Boston Red Sox late in Game Six of the 1976 World Series, and Dusty Rhodes is still remembered for his four clutch pinch-hits (including a game-winning, pinch-homer in Game One) in the 1954 World Series for the victorious New York Giants. But the man who holds the record for most pinch-homers, Cliff Johnson, is lost to time because none of his 20 pinch-home runs occurred during a game worthy of enduring memory. And the current record holder for career pinch-hits, Lenny Harris, continues to plod along in relative obscurity.

If you should happen to go to a game this season involving the Milwaukee Brewers and you see Lenny Harris grab a bat and helmet and walk to the plate in the familiar role of pinch-hitter, give him a hand. He has, after all, survived in the shadows long enough to write his own line, however obscure, in baseball's record book. Besides, a polite round of applause just might let him know that it was worth all the wait.

Sources:
"MLB All Time Pinch Hit Leaders"

sonny
03-16-2007, 05:00 AM
great find!:thumbup:

MississippiRed
03-16-2007, 10:40 AM
According to retrosheet.org here are the major league PHing numbers for the last five years:



I didn't realize pinch hitters did such a poor job. With these numbers pinch hitting for the pitcher is alright; but pinch hitting for just about anyone else doesn't seem like much of an idea.

I agree TXdave, the numbers are right, too, in my opinion. Pinch-hitting is so hard to do consistently well, nobody is that good at it. The people you think of as being good pinch hitters are almost always the ones who got many ab's during a season, we just remember the relatively few times they came through. Javier Valentin had a great year as a pinch hitter last year, right? He hit four home runs, etc. His average was .231 and his OBP was .273 (12 hits and 3 walks in 55 plate appearances).

hebroncougar
03-16-2007, 10:58 AM
Pinch hitting is largely a matter of perception. Look at Jacob Cruz. One year he's invaluable, the next year he's expendable.

dfs
03-16-2007, 11:16 AM
pinch hitting for the pitcher is alright; but pinch hitting for just about anyone else doesn't seem like much of an idea.

Quoted for truth.

jojo
03-16-2007, 03:39 PM
I agree TXdave, the numbers are right, too, in my opinion. Pinch-hitting is so hard to do consistently well, nobody is that good at it. The people you think of as being good pinch hitters are almost always the ones who got many ab's during a season, we just remember the relatively few times they came through. Javier Valentin had a great year as a pinch hitter last year, right? He hit four home runs, etc. His average was .231 and his OBP was .273 (12 hits and 3 walks in 55 plate appearances).


To me its simple really.....if you could hit consistently well, you'd most likely be starting.... :cool: