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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top-10 Pinch Hitters in MLB History

Top-10 Pinch Hitters in MLB History

Baseball's greatest PHs
Publish Date: 01/19/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

10) Harold Baines

Harold Baines as a baseball player could do just about anything offensively, and that includes pinch-hitting. In 276 plate appearances as a pinch hitter, he had a batting average of .316, an OBP of .380, and a .480 slugging percentage.

Video: Harold Baines' final Major League home run

Harold Baines’ final Major League home run

9) Dave Hansen

From 1991-2000, Hansen hit .281/.388/.433 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 13 home runs and 60 RBI in 423 pinch-hit appearances. In 2000, he set a single-season record with seven pinch homers, tied the next year by Craig Wilson. Hansen is fourth all-time in pinch-hit appearances and sixth in hits.

Video: FLA@CHC: Hansen breaks up no-hitter in 9th

FLA@CHC: Hansen breaks up no-hitter in 9th

8) Merv Rettenmund

As a pinch-hitter, his greatest weapon was his eye at the plate, which allowed him to post a .422 on-base percentage in those situations, first all-time among players with at least 200 chances. In 1977, he drew 16 pinch walks, with a .463 OBP.

Video: 1970 WS Gm5: Rettenmund hits opposite-field solo shot

1970 WS Gm5: Rettenmund hits opposite-field solo shot

7) Willie McCovey

The Hall of Famer smacked 16 of his 521 career home runs off the bench, including a record-tying three grand slams, while his slugging percentage (.490) and OPS (.848) are both the second-highest among players with that many pinch-hit chances.

Video: Willie McCovey hits a pinch-hit, walk-off double

Willie McCovey hits a pinch-hit, walk-off double

6) Matt Stairs

The stocky Canadian slugger walloped a record 23 of his 265 career home runs as a pinch-hitter, including 15 in his age 38-42 seasons. That doesn’t count his go-ahead two-run blast into the right-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium that lifted the Phillies to victory in Game 4 of the 2008 National League Championship Series.

Video: SD@MIL: Stairs homers, becomes all-time PH homer king

SD@MIL: Stairs homers, becomes all-time PH homer king

5) Jerry Lynch

He put together several good seasons as a pinch-hitter, but his 1961 campaign for the Reds may be one of the best, as he helped lead the Reds to an improbable National League Championship. In 59 plate appearances, he batted .404/.525/.851 with 12 walks, four doubles, a triple, five home runs, and a record 25 RBI.

Video: The Complete 1961 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook

The Complete 1961 Cincinnati Reds Yearbook

4) Manny Mota

The record holder for career pinch hits for more than 20 years; Mota still ranks third all-time in that category. His .300 average as a pinch-hitter survives as the best in history for players with at least 350 chances, including a .327 mark during the 1970s.

Video: NLCS Gm2: Manny Mota throws out the first pitch

NLCS Gm2: Manny Mota throws out the first pitch

3) Smokey Burgess

His 146 pinch-hit RBI are 31 more than any other player, including six seasons of 10 or more. In 1965, he drove in 24 runs in a pinch, just one off the single-season record. The six-time All-Star catcher held the record for pinch hits with 145 when he retired in 1967.

Video: 1961 Baseball - 221555-37 | Footage Farm Sports

1961 Baseball – 221555-37 | Footage Farm Sports

2) Cliff Johnson

No player who has pinch-hit 300 times can close to Johnson’s .876 OPS, compiled from 1972-86. His 20 pinch-hit bombs stood as the record for 24 years after his retirement.

Video: September 4, 1977-Cliff Johnson hits Grand Slam for Yankees (WPIX Clip)

September 4, 1977-Cliff Johnson hits Grand Slam for Yankees (WPIX Clip)

1) Lenny Harris

He collected 84 more plate appearances and 37 more hits in that role than any other player, carving out an 18-year career despite never getting more than 333 plate appearances in a season from 1993-2005. On Oct. 7, 2001, he broke Manny Mota’s record with his 151st pinch-hit.

Video: 2001 MLB Record Breaker LENNY HARRIS All Time Career Pinch Hits Original FSNY Broadcasts

2001 MLB Record Breaker LENNY HARRIS All Time Career Pinch Hits Original FSNY Broadcasts

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