What Ever Happened to Pinch Hitters?
I got pinch hitters into to my head today, and I again noticed to my dismay that it is very difficult to find any information on pinch-hitting on baseball reference, at least if you are not willing to pay to find it. It got me thinking about how much it feels like you just don’t hear anywhere near as much about pinch-hitters and pinch-hitting as I remember hearing as a kid in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
In those days, the purported ability to come in cold and pinch hit successfully was highly valued, and there were more players at the bottom of active rosters who were thought to hold their roster spots due specifically to their ability as pinch-hitters. Since then, the conversation has decidedly turned toward discussion of performance by bench players when hitting with the platoon advantage, rather than as pinch-hitters. Also, there are fewer roster spots for the “pure” pinch-hitter in today’s game, since just about every club now carries 12 pitchers.
In fact, it feels like conversation about pinch-hitters has nearly disappeared since Matt Stairs retired. However, the miracle that is the internet (and I’m old enough to know it really is amazing relative to what came before), means that more information about pinch-hitters is only a google search away.