For other uses, see Pinch hitter (disambiguation).

In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter. Batters can be substituted at any time while the ball is dead (not in active play); the manager may use any player who has not yet entered the game as a substitute. Unlike basketball, American football, or ice hockey, baseball does not have a "free substitution rule" and thus the replaced player in baseball is never allowed back into that game. The pinch hitter assumes the spot in the batting order of the player he replaces.

The player chosen to be a pinch hitter is often a backup infielder or outfielder. In the major leagues, catchers are less likely to be called upon because most teams have only two catchers, while pitchers are almost never used as pinch-hitters, because they tend to be worse hitters than other players on the team. The pinch hitter may not re-enter the game after being replaced with another player.

The American League of Major League Baseball, the Pacific League in Japan, and various other leagues use the designated hitter rule, such that pitchers seldom bat. This removes one possible situation where a pinch hitter may be desired.


Pinch hitters are often used to replace a starting player when the pinch hitter is thought to have a better chance of reaching base or helping other runners to score.

In the National League of Major League Baseball, the Central League in Japan, and various other minor leagues, pinch hitters are often substituted for the pitcher in the middle or late innings of a game. This is because pitchers are often poor hitters and get tired after six to seven innings of pitching. (When the manager already plans to replace the pitcher in the next inning, the major downside of using a pinch hitter - namely that the player being replaced cannot re-enter the game - is taken away.)

This use of a pinch hitter is often part of a double switch, in which a relief pitcher replaces a defensive player who will not bat soon, and a defensive player replaces the former starting pitcher that is currently up to bat.

The pinch hitter may remain in the game following a pinch-hit at-bat and need not (but may) assume the same position as the player for whom he pinch-hits as long as some other player assumes that position. For example, on 16 August 2009, the Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman pinch-hit for second baseman Alberto Gonzalez and then remained in the game at third base, with previous third baseman Ronnie Belliard switching positions to play second base after the change. (Box score: [1]) Alternatively, the manager may designate another player to replace the pinch-hitter; this scenario is common when a team pinch-hits for a pitcher without executing a double switch, such that the new pitcher then replaces the pinch hitter and assumes the previous pitcher's place in the batting order.

MLB all-time pinch hit leaders

This is a list of players with the most pinch-hits in Major League Baseball history. Names which appear in bold are active players. Includes games through July 22, 2011.

Rank Player Pinch hits
  1 Lenny Harris 212
  2 Mark Sweeney 175
  3 Manny Mota 150
  4 Smoky Burgess 145
  5 Greg Gross 143
  6 Dave Hansen 138
  7 John Vander Wal 129
  8 José Morales 123
  9 Orlando Palmeiro 120
10 Jerry Lynch 116
11 Red Lucas 114
12 Steve Braun 113
13 Terry Crowley 108
Denny Walling 108
15 Gates Brown 107
16 Matt Stairs 105
17 Jim Dwyer 103
Mike Lum 103
19 Rusty Staub 100
20 Dave Clark   96

All-time pinch hit records

  • Most pinch hit at-bats
Lenny Harris – 804
  • Most pinch hits career
Lenny Harris – 212
  • Most pinch hit grand slams
Rich Reese, Willie McCovey, Ron Northey – tied with three each
  • Most pinch hit home runs
Matt Stairs - 23
  • Most pinch hit game winning grand slams
Brooks Conrad – 2
  • Most pinch hit grand slams by one team in a season
Atlanta Braves, Brooks Conrad, Brian McCann – 3 total in 2010

Single season pinch hits records

  • Most pinch hits
John Vander Wal – 28 (1995)[2]
  • Most pinch hit at-bats
Lenny Harris – 83 (2001)
  • Most pinch hit games
Lenny Harris – 95 (2001)
  • Most consecutive pinch hits
Dave Philley and Rusty Staub – tied with eight each (1958 and 1983)
  • Most pinch hit home runs
Dave Hansen and Craig Wilson – tied with seven each (2000 and 2001)
  • Most pinch hit RBI
Joe Cronin, Jerry Lynch, Rusty Staub – tied with 25 each (1943, 1961 and 1983)
  • Most pinch hit walks
Matt Franco – 20 (1999)
  • Most pinch hit game winning grandslam home runs
Brooks Conrad – 2(2010)

Pinch hit home runs

  • The following players have been called into a game and hit a pinch-hit home run during their first ever Major League at-bat:
American League
Date Name Team Inning
04-30-1937 Ace Parker Philadelphia 9th Inning
09-05-1962 John Kennedy Washington 6th Inning
06-19-1963 Gates Brown Detroit 5th Inning
09-30-1964 Bill Roman Detroit 7th Inning
09-12-1965 Brant Alyea Washington 6th Inning
08-07-1968 Joe Keough Oakland 8th Inning
04-07-1977 Alvis Woods Toronto 5th Inning
National League
Date Name Team Inning
04-21-1898 Bill Duggleby Philadelphia 2nd inning
04-14-1936 Eddie Morgan St. Louis 7th Inning
05-21-1948 Les Layton New York 9th Inning
09-14-1950 Ted Tappe Cincinnati 8th Inning
04-12-1955 Chuck Tanner Milwaukee 8th Inning
09-08-1998 Marlon Anderson Philadelphia 7th Inning
04-17-2001 Gene Stechschulte St. Louis 6th Inning
08-21-2005 Mike Jacobs New York 5th Inning
09-01-2005 Jeremy Hermida Florida 7th Inning
09-04-2006 Charlton Jimerson Houston 6th Inning
09-08-2008 Mark Saccomanno Houston 5th Inning
08-28-2009 John Hester Arizona 6th Inning

See also

Baseball portal


External links

  • Pinch hitting record from the Baseball Almanac