Tuesday, January 2, 2018

From the Handbook: Pinch-hitting

Darn near a half-century ago I was fascinated by a piece about the history of pinch-hitting. I can't remember who wrote it or when it was published, but I know it's hopelessly outdated today as a source of information about pinch-hitting accomplishments.

But the topic of pinch-hitting -- the art of coming off the bench for one at-bat -- is fascinating. It's a difficult task. The average MLB hitter last season hit .255 with a .750 OPS (On-base Plus Slugging). The average pinch-hitter hit .223 with a .648 OPS.

Four members of the 2017 Twins had at least 10 pinch-hit appearances.

Ehrie Adrianaza went 1-for-13 with a walk as a pinch-hitter. Eduardo Escobar when 2-for-9 with five walks (!), two of them intentional, so he had a really good on-base percentage. Neither had an extra base hit. Robbie Grossman was 2-for-10 with three walks and a double -- good OBP, but again, not much power.

And then there was Kennys Vargas. Vargas went 4-for-11 with a walk and a homer. He drove in four runs. Batting average .364, OBP .417, SLG 636. Not bad at all, Mr. Vargas.

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