What is a Pinch Hitter in Baseball?

what is a pinch hitter in baseball

Last updated on November 3rd, 2023 at 08:26 am

A pinch hitter is a substitute player that replaces a hitter in the lineup during a game. For example, these players tend to have better offensive hitting skills than the person they are replacing in the lineup to hit, like a pitcher. Pinch hitters occur in both Major League and Minor League baseball for a wide range of reasons. Usually, they come off the bench to give their team the best chance at getting a hit late in a game to help score runs.


So, what is the purpose of having a pinch hitter come into a baseball game? What is the difference between a pinch hitter and pinch runner? What is the difference between a pinch hitter and a designated hitter?


Here is the complete guide to what a pinch hitter is in baseball.


What Is the Purpose of a Pinch Hitter?

what is the purpose of a pinch hitter

Pinch hitters are valuable weapons off a bench for a manager to use during a game. Pinch hitters typically come in during the offensive inning to replace a starting player towards the end of a game. At the end of the offensive inning, the hitter will usually take over the defensive role of the player they bat for in the lineup.


Also, pinch hitters can be a starting baseball player getting a half-day off. For example, you might give your starting first baseman a half-day off so they can rest. If the game is close, you might see the baseball manager call them off the bench to hit in a critical part of the game since their bat is that good.


Finally, baseball teams tend to carry a few players on the bench who can substitute as a pinch hitter late in the game for someone else. The player that the pinch hitter is replacing can’t return to the game later. However, the team can substitute at the end of the offensive inning to ensure a skilled player takes the field for a defensive position. Typically speaking, this strategic change is a double switch.


How is a Pinch Hit Recorded on Scorecard?

There are a few ways that baseball teams record pinch hitters and pinch-hitting in the box score. First, players who slot in as pinch hitters receive a “PH” next to their name. When a pinch hitter hits the ball, they receive a pinch-hit as the recording. Similarly, if they hit a home run or grand slam, they achieve a pinch-hit home run or a pinch-hit grand slam.


Famous Pinch Hitters in Major League Baseball

New York Yankees hitter Yogi Berra hit the first pinch-hit home run in a World Series in 1947 during game three against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Berra slotted in for Sherm Lollar during the seventh inning of the game when the Yankees were trailing 9-7 behind the Dodgers. His run cut the deficit to one run, but the Yankees eventually lost the game.


The Baseball almanac has several records regarding pitch hitters. Lenny Harris is one of the most well-accomplished pinch hitters, with 804 at-bats and 212 pinch hits. His career batting average was .269, and he had a total of 369 RBI.


Conclusion: What is a Pinch Hitter in Baseball?

It’s not unusual for baseball teams to substitute players during an offensive inning to benefit from someone’s offensive potential. When a team makes a substitution during the batting order, the player is called a pinch hitter. These players have an essential role in the offensive diversity of the group, helping them make dramatic plays and win games.


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