Mains: Coming through in a pinch

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on May 21, 2019:

A week or two ago, somebody asked me something about pinch-hitters. Or maybe it came up in an online conversation. (You can tell from those sentences how well I recall the exact circumstances.) Having previously written about pinch-hitting, I related a couple trends:

  • This season in the National League, the use of pinch-hitters is near an Expansion Era high.
  • Despite that, pinch-hitters are doing poorly. There’s a well-established pinch-hitter penalty, but as my article linked above explains, the gap between pinch-hitters and other hitters has generally widened in recent years.

Take this year, for example. Across baseball, pinch-hitters, per the Baseball-Reference Play Index, are hitting .214/.305/.370. That’s a .675 OPS. That’s basically Kevin Kiermaier this year. You don’t need me to tell you that’s bad. Baseball-Reference calculates park- and season-adjusted OPS, with 100 as the average. For pinch-hitters so far this year, it’s 84. In other words, pinch-hitters are 84 percent as good as, or 16 percent worse than, league average.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 21, 2019. Last Updated: May 21, 2019.