Mains: The vanishing vanishing pinch-hitter

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on April 5, 2018:

Last month, I wrote about how batters enjoy a platoon advantage far less frequently now than they did in the past. Specifically, I found that in 1990, batters had a platoon advantage in 61 percent of plate appearances. Last year, it was 52 percent. I blamed this on growing pitching staffs. More pitchers on the roster mean more opportunities to match up relievers with the opposing team’s batters, and fewer bench players available to get a platoon advantage.

That article, in turn, was based on a comment by reader JFranco77 on another article of mine about pinch-hitting. We engaged in a discussion, during which he said:

So bring in your LH bat, the other team brings in a LH RP, you burn your LH PH and just immediately put in a righty. Now you can’t possibly burn 2 players on one move.

JFranco77, the official muse of the Flu-Like Symptoms column.

JFranco77’s point was that, given shorter benches, managers can’t afford to do what Scioscia did last July 4 on a regular basis. If you’ve got only three or four position players in reserve, and one of them is your emergency catcher, you can’t waste one by bringing him into a game but giving him no plate appearance.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 5, 2018. Last Updated: April 5, 2018.