A New Record for Stolen Bases by a Pinch Runner
Apparently, they still like to keep roster spaces for pinch runners in Japan. 36-year old Takahiro Suzuki set the NPB record yesterday with his 106th stolen base as a pinch-runner, breaking Shiro Fujise‘s record set back in 1983. Suzuki apparently also plays as a late-inning defensive replacement and bench player, as he manages to get at least 20 plate appearances every season.
The MLB record for stolen bases by a pinch runner is held by Matt Alexander at 91 stolen bases. Alexander was Charlie Finley’s designated pinch runner on the 1975 to 1977 A’s and then went on to a similar role with Chuck Tanner‘s Pirates. I am going to assume that Takahiro Suzuki is now the all-time leader in career stolen bases by a pinch runner.
In a piece I wrote a couple of years ago, I noted that Tanner, who managed the A’s in 1976, was one of the few baseball men who adopted Charlie Finley’s full-time pinch runner concept. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see these kinds of exclusive pinch-runners in the MLB in the future given the need to use those bottom-of-the-roster spot for all the relievers used in today’s game.
Matt Alexander is also the all-time MLB leader in pinch-running appearances (271) and runs scored as a pinch-runner (89). SABR even has a bio on him. Needless to say, Alexander regretted the fact that he didn’t get enough opportunities at the major league level to show that he could do other things on the baseball field than just run.