Non-Batting Batters: A History

Last time, we focused on players given the very specialized role of being deployed in almost no role except pinch-hitter. This time, we’ll take a look at the mirror image guy next to him at the far end of the bench: instead of being used for almost nothing except his bat, this is a non-pitcher deployed in a manner that assiduously avoids him using his bat at all.

We’ll examine all non-pitchers in Major League Baseball history who have played in at least 30 games in a season, but with no more than 0.9 plate appearances per game. Clearly, such players very rarely start a game, and when they are inserted into the lineup, it’s rarely to pinch-hit, but instead is generally as a pinch-runner and/or defensive replacement.

As we discussed in the case of pinch-hitting specialists, in the early decades of MLB, teams rarely deployed bench specialists of any kind, as in-game substitutions were rare. Bench players were primarily deployed as full-game substitutes, filling in for injured regulars, or sometimes beating out regulars and taking over their starting jobs in mid-season.

Pinch-hitting specialists began to appear in the 1910s, but non-batting batters didn’t come along until a few years later. The first manager to deploy a bench player in such a mode was, perhaps not surprisingly, the Giants’ John McGraw, who had also been among the early adopters of the pinch-hitting specialist. In 1923, McGraw used 24-year-old rookie infielder Freddie Maguire in a novel manner: occasionally as a late-inning defensive replacement at second base (apparently in a maneuver in which regular second baseman Frankie Frisch was shifted to third base, spelling veteran third baseman Heinie Groh), and also occasionally as a pinch-runner, but very rarely coming to bat.

Unlike the case of the pinch-hitting specialist, which following its initial appearance pretty quickly caught on as a frequently-used role, the non-batting batter wasn’t readily embraced. McGraw would never use another player that way. Only one other was seen in the 1920s: another 24-year-old rookie, Pepper Martin with the Cardinals (managed by Bill McKechnie), was used primarily as a pinch-runner in 1928, garnering just 0.41 plate appearances per game. A few years later, Martin would emerge as a star.

Year  Player          Team B Age  G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1923  Freddie Maguire NY-N R 24   2B16 3B1 0.83  41 34 11  6   1   2  1  0  2  4 .200  29
1928  Pepper Martin  STL-N R 24        OF4 0.41  39 16 11  4   0   0  2  ?  1  2 .308  86
1931  Myril Hoag      NY-A R 24   OF23 3B1 0.66  44 29  6  4   2   3  0  0  1  8 .143   4
      Average 1920s-30s      24            0.64  41 26  9  5   1   2  1  0  1  5 .197  31

Only one non-batting batter appeared in the 1930s. Interestingly, this was the decade in which the Yankees employed Sammy Byrd, an outfielder who earned the nickname of “Babe Ruth’s Legs” for the frequency with which he was inserted late in games as a pinch-runner and/or defensive replacement for the aging Bambino—yet Byrd was never a non-batting batter, or close to it. “Babe Ruth’s Legs” also started a fair amount of games, and typically had over 200 plate appearances in his seasons with the Yankees. The only non-batting batter the Yankees featured was 23-year-old rookie Myril Hoag in 1931.

The near-disappearance of the non-batting batter in the 1930s, as well as the infrequent use of pinch-hitting specialists in that decade (and a decline in the use of platooning) may be at least partially explained by the reduction in roster sizes from 25 players to 23 that was adopted through most of the ’30s as a depression-induced cost-cutting move.

The 1940s

The life of the non-batting batter maintained a pulse, but just barely. In the wartime season of 1943, Cincinnati Reds’ manager Bill McKechnie deployed the second non-batting batter of his career: catcher Tony DePhillips was used as a pure defensive replacement, spelling regular Ray Mueller in late innings.

Year  Player          Team B Age  G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1943  T. DePhillips  CIN-N R 30        C35 0.63  35 22  0  2   1   2  0  ?  1  5 .100 -15
1947  Chuck Diering  STL-N R 24       OF75 0.92 105 97 22 16   6  11  3  ? 19 22 .216  96
      Average 1940s          27            0.85  70 60 11  9   4   7  2  ? 10 14 .191  75

Chuck Diering’s 1947 season violates our definition of non-batting batter: he picked up 0.92 plate appearances per game, which is over our limit of 0.9. But I’m including him here anyway, because (a) he’s just barely over the limit, and (b) his deployment in such a manner in a 105-game workload was extremely novel. Cardinals’ manager Eddie Dyer made a very frequent practice of inserting Diering as a late-inning defensive sub, spelling either right fielder Ron Northey (who was a terrific hitter with limited defensive aptitude, and later became a pure pinch-hitting specialist, as we saw last time) or center fielder Terry Moore (who had been a longtime defensive star, but was now 35 years old).

The 1950s

As with pinch-hitting specialists, the 1950s was the period in which managers began to widely embrace the role of non-batting batters. Specialization of roles, platooning, active bullpen use, and generally assertive in-game managerial tactics became the norm as never before.

In distinct contrast to the pinch-hitting specialists of the period, who were almost exclusively left-handed batters, the non-batting batters were almost all right-handed batters, clearly illustrating the degree to which managers were actively seeking the platoon advantage.

Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1950 Putsy Caballero PHI-N R 22    2B5 3B4 SS2 0.57  46 26 12  4   0   0  1  ?  2  2 .167   7
1952 Chuck Diering    NY-N R 29           OF36 0.66  41 27  2  4   2   2  0  2  4  3 .174  66
1953 Sibby Sisti     MIL-N R 32   2B13 SS6 3B4 0.74  38 28  8  5   1   4  0  0  5  2 .217  69
1953 P. Castiglione  STL-N R 32   3B51 2B9 SS3 0.82  67 55  9  9   2   3  0  0  2  5 .170   8
1954 Dick Schofield  STL-N B 19           SS11 0.16  43  7 17  1   1   1  1  1  0  3 .143  42
1954 Reno Bertoia    DET-A R 19   2B15 3B8 SS3 0.78  54 42 13  6   3   2  1  0  5  9 .162  55
1955 Joey Amalfitano  NY-N R 21        SS5 3B2 0.67  36 24  8  5   2   1  0  0  2  2 .227  73
1956 Billy Consolo   BOS-A R 21           2B25 0.29  48 14 13  2   0   1  0  0  3  5 .182  40
1956 Rocky Bridges   CIN-N R 28  3B51 MI15 OF1 0.32  71 23  9  4   0   1  1  2  4  3 .211  52
1956 Tommy Carroll    NY-A R 19       3B11 SS1 0.50  36 18 11  6   0   0  1  0  1  3 .353 100
1956 Gino Cimoli     BKN-N R 26           OF62 0.52  73 38  3  4   1   4  1  0  1  8 .111 -28
1956 Gene Stephens   BOS-A L 23           OF71 0.72 104 75 22 17   3   7  0  1 12 12 .270  87
1957 J. Schoonmaker  WAS-A R 23           OF13 0.83  30 25  5  2   1   0  0  0  2 11 .087 -19
1957 Marv Blaylock   PHI-N L 27       1B12 OF1 0.86  37 32  5  4   2   4  0  0  3  8 .154  89
1958 Eddie Miksis  BAL-CIN R 31 OF32 CI15 MI13 0.85  72 61 15  7   0   4  1  1  5  6 .135  -7
1959 Jim Mahoney     BOS-A R 25           SS30 0.84  31 26 10  3   1   4  0  0  3  7 .130  32
      Average 1950s          25                0.63  52 33 10  5   1   2  0  0  3  6 .181  39

In addition, a roster-management rule that was in place from 1953 through 1957 had an impact. It was the Bonus Baby era, in which many managers were forced to carry extremely inexperienced youngsters on their roster all season long, and often these managers found that pinch-running and late-inning defense were the only suitable roles for the kids. Schofield, Bertoia, Amalfitano, and Carroll were all Bonus Babies in these seasons.

The 1956 Boston Red Sox, managed by Pinky Higgins, became the first team to deploy two non-batting batters: 23-year-old outfielder Gene Stephens, who was the late-innings caddy for Ted Williams, and 21-year-old infielder Billy Consolo, who was deployed in an extremely limited role as a defensive sub at second base for Billy Goodman and Ted Lepcio. The odd thing about Consolo is that he had already been a Bonus Baby, in 1953-54, yet in those years he was given dramatically greater playing time than he was in ’56, despite the fact that the Red Sox were free to choose to farm him out in ’56.

The 1960s

The role was now a well-established feature of the roster-management landscape. The 1962 Twins, managed by Sam Mele, became the second team to deploy two non-batting batters: Marty Martinez and Johnny Goryl.

Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1960 Jim Rivera      CHI-A L 37           OF24 0.42  48 20 17  5   1   1  4  0  3  3 .294 124
1960 Joe DeMaestri    NY-A R 31      2B19 SS17 0.71  49 35  8  8   1   2  0  0  0  9 .229  35
1962 Jack Reed        NY-A R 29           OF75 0.55  88 48 17 13   4   4  2  1  4  7 .302 124
1962 Marty Martinez  MIN-A B 20       SS11 3B1 0.65  37 24 13  3   1   3  0  0  3  4 .167  50
1962 Johnny Goryl    MIN-A R 28        2B4 SS1 0.78  37 29  6  5   4   2  0  0  2  6 .192  93
1962 Tim Harkness     LA-N L 24           1B59 0.79  92 73  9 16   4   7  1  0 10 20 .258 110
1963 Jack Reed        NY-A R 30           OF89 0.77 106 82 18 15   4   1  5  1  9 14 .205  61
1964 Dal Maxvill     STL-N R 25   MI28 3B1 OF1 0.73  37 27  4  6   0   4  1  0  0  7 .231  26
1964 Bob Saverine    BAL-A B 23       SS15 OF2 0.80  46 37 14  5   1   0  3  1  3  6 .147  11
1964 Lee Walls        LA-N R 31         OF6 C1 0.81  37 30  1  5   1   3  0  0  2 12 .179  31
1964 Archie Moore     NY-A L 22        OF8 1B7 0.81  31 25  4  4   2   1  0  0  2  9 .174  39
1965 Ross Moschitto   NY-A R 20           OF89 0.29  96 28 12  5   1   3  0  0  0 12 .185  33
1965 Bob Schroder     SF-N L 20        2B4 3B1 0.32  31 10  4  2   0   1  0  0  1  1 .222  48
1965 Willie Crawford  LA-N L 18            OF8 0.56  52 29 10  4   0   0  2  0  2  8 .148   5
1965 Marty Keough    CIN-N L 30       1B32 OF4 0.77  62 48 14  5   0   3  0  0  3 14 .116 -13
1966 J. Hernandez    CAL-A R 25  3B11 MI16 OF3 0.45  58 26 19  1   0   2  1  1  1  4 .043 -63
1966 Don Mason        SF-N L 21            2B9 0.62  42 26  8  3   1   1  0  1  0  2 .120  -4
1967 Allan Lewis     OAK-A B 25                0.18  34  6  7  1   0   0 14  5  0  3 .167   0
1969 Gary Holman     WAS-A L 25       1B11 OF3 0.85  41 35  1  5   1   2  0  0  4  7 .161  31
     Average 1960s           25                0.62  54 34 10  6   1   2  2  1  3  8 .193  47

The Bonus Baby rule was rescinded from 1958 through 1961, but returned in a modified form in 1962-65. It yielded non-batting batters Bob Schroder and Willie Crawford, both in ’65. And Don Mason of the 1966 Giants wasn’t a Bonus Baby, but he was in a similar status, as a player acquired in something called the “first-year draft”, who had to be retained on the active major league roster for a full season, or else surrendered (the same provision as the Rule V draft).

Neither was nicknamed “Mickey Mantle’s Legs,” but both Jack Reed of the 1962-63 Yankees and Ross Moschitto of the ’65 Yankees well deserved it.

With Charlie Finley’s Kansas City A’s of 1967, an entirely new specimen of non-batting batter appeared: Allan Lewis, “The Panamanian Express,” who was deployed almost exclusively as a pinch-runner. Could it be the beginning of a trend?

The 1970s

Leave it to Finley to start a trend that only he followed. Finley’s A’s (now moved to Oakland), whether his field managers agreed with it or not, deployed pinch-running specialists most every season through the 1970s. Lewis was just the first. Then came Herb Washington, who wasn’t a baseball player at all, but instead was a sprinting star who Finley boldly and unsuccessfully attempted to convert to an ace base stealer. The rest were all legitimate ballplayers, but all with limited major league experience outside of the extreme pinch-running specialist role in Oakland: Don Hopkins, Larry Lintz, Matt Alexander, and Darrell Woodard.

The concept of a pure pinch-running specialist is, to say the least, questionable. This is a player who must depend upon a teammate to get on base before he even enters the game, and then must be replaced by another teammate in the next half-inning. In order to justify this extremely narrow range of contribution, a pinch-running specialist would have to be a near-lock to steal both second base and third in every appearance (and stealing home wouldn’t be a bad idea either), but of course, as blazing fast as these guys were, none of them could do that. And Washington couldn’t do much except get picked off.

Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO  BA  OPS+
1970 Don Mason        SF-N L 25           2B14 0.89  46 41  4  5   0   1  0  0  5  7 .139   6
1970 Cesar Geronimo  HOU-N L 22           OF26 0.89  47 42  5  9   0   2  0  0  2  5 .243  48
1971 Chico Ruiz      CAL-A B 32        3B3 2B2 0.77  31 24  4  5   0   0  1  0  2  7 .263  77
1972 Bobby Wine      MON-N R 33   3B21 SS4 2B1 0.53  34 18  2  4   1   0  0  0  0  2 .222  41
1972 Damaso Blanco    SF-N R 30   3B19 SS8 2B3 0.64  39 25  5  7   1   2  2  1  4  3 .350 140
1973 Allan Lewis     OAK-A B 31        DH6 OF1 0.00  35  0 16  0   0   0  7  4  0  0   NA  NA
1974 Herb Washington OAK-A R 22                0.00  92  0 29  0   0   0 29 16  0  0   NA  NA
1974 Rod Gaspar       SD-N B 28        OF8 1B2 0.55  33 18  4  3   0   1  0  0  4  3 .214  76
1974 Dave Campbell   HOU-N R 32    2B9 CI8 OF1 0.71  35 25  4  2   1   2  1  0  1  8 .087 -27
1975 Don Hopkins     OAK-A L 23       DH20 OF5 0.10  82  8 25  1   0   0 21  9  2  0 .167  60
1975 Matt Alexander  OAK-A B 28  DH17 OF11 IF5 0.17  63 11 16  1   0   0 17 10  1  1 .100 -17
1975 Rodney Scott     KC-A B 21   DH22 2B9 SS8 0.38  48 18 13  1   0   0  4  2  1  3 .067 -45
1975 Larry Haney     OAK-A R 32        C43 3B4 0.57  47 27  3  5   1   2  0  0  1  4 .192  50
1975 Tom Shopay      BAL-A L 30    OF13 DH3 C1 0.90  40 36  4  5   1   2  3  0  4  7 .161  33
1976 Larry Lintz     OAK-A B 26   DH19 2B5 OF3 0.06  68  4 21  0   0   0 31 11  2  0 .000 112
1976 Matt Alexander  OAK-A B 29      OF23 DH19 0.49  61 30 16  1   0   0 20  7  0  5 .033 -80
1977 Matt Alexander  OAK-A B 30  OF31 IF17 DH1 0.52  90 47 24 10   1   2 26 14  4  6 .238  57
1977 Mike Anderson   BAL-A R 27           OF47 0.68  53 36  2  3   1   3  0  0  3 10 .094  -4
1977 Ike Hampton     CAL-A B 25        C47 DH2 0.90  52 47  5 13   4   9  0  0  2 10 .295 136
1978 Pepe Frias      MON-N R 29  2B16 SS14 3B1 0.23  73 17  5  4   3   5  0  0  0  3 .267 115
1978 Darrell Woodard OAK-A R 21   2B14 3B1 DH1 0.30  33 10 10  0   0   0  3  4  1  1 .000 -69
1978 Skip James       SF-N L 28           1B27 0.63  41 26  5  2   1   3  1  0  4  5 .095  12
1978 Rudy Meoli      CHI-N L 27        2B6 3B5 0.74  47 35 10  3   1   2  1  0  6  4 .103  17
1978 Ray Knight      CIN-N R 25   CI61 MI5 OF3 0.82  83 68  7 13   4   4  0  0  3 13 .200  47
1978 Sam Mejias      MON-N R 26        OF52 P1 0.88  67 59  9 13   1   6  0  0  2  5 .232  44
1979 Sergio Ferrer    NY-N B 28   3B12 SS5 2B4 0.28  32  9  7  0   0   0  0  2  2  3 .000 -32
1979 Matt Alexander  PIT-N B 32       OF11 SS1 0.30  44 13 16  7   1   1 13  1  0  0 .538 228
1979 Sam Mejias    CHC-CIN R 27           OF28 0.42  38 16  5  3   0   0  0  0  2  5 .231  52
     Average 1970s           27                0.49  52 25 10  4   0   2  6  3  2  4 .190  42

So, the pinch-running specialist didn’t catch on. The only team other than Finley’s A’s who employed one was the Pittsburgh Pirates, managed by Chuck Tanner, who apparently became enamored with Matt Alexander during his stint managing Oakland, and took Alexander on with the Pirates.

No other team was so inclined. Most of these other guys did quite a bit of pinch-running, of course, but they were deployed on defense as well. And aside from the A’s, no team in this era deployed more than one non-batting batter in the same season, while the 1975 Oakland team, managed by Alvin Dark, set the all-time record with three (Hopkins, Alexander, and defensive-replacement catcher Larry Haney.)

The 1980s

Not only did the pure pinch-running specialist largely disappear in this decade, but the deployment of non-batting batters distinctly declined as well. Despite the fact that there were now 26 teams in MLB, there were just 16 non-batting batters deployed, the same number as in the 1950s, when there were only 16 teams.

Plus, you may note that I only got to 16 non-batting batters here by stretching the 0.90 plate appearances/game limit to include Bobby Clark of the 1982 Angels. Like Chuck Diering in 1947, Clark is just barely over the line, and the fact that he was deployed in this extreme mode in over 100 games is extraordinary. The ’82 Angels, managed by Gene Mauch, had a starting outfield of converted catcher Brian Downing, ever-brittle Fred Lynn, and 36-year-old Reggie Jackson—a perfect storm, one might say, of opportunities for outfield defensive replacement.

Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1980 Matt Alexander  PIT-N B 33        OF4 2B1 0.08  37  3 13  1   1   0 10  3  0  0 .333 171
1980 Joe Cannon      TOR-A L 26       OF33 DH1 0.73  70 51 16  4   0   4  2  2  0 14 .080 -51
1980 George Vukovich PHI-N L 24           OF28 0.82  78 64  6 13   2   8  0  0  6  9 .224  58
1981 Sam Mejias      CIN-N R 29           OF58 0.85  66 56  6 14   2   7  1  0  2  9 .286  77
1981 Ramon Aviles    PHI-N R 29  2B20 3B13 SS5 0.89  38 34  2  6   1   3  0  0  3  5 .214  53
1982 Dennis Werth     KC-A R 29        1B35 C2 0.46  41 19  5  2   0   2  0  0  4  2 .133  29
1982 Dave Edwards     SD-N R 28       OF45 1B1 0.79  71 56  7 10   3   2  0  0  1 14 .182  33
1982 Bobby Clark     CAL-A R 27          OF102 0.91 102 93 11 19   3   8  1  0  0 29 .211  35
1983 Ken Smith       ATL-N L 25           1B13 0.43  30 13  2  2   1   2  1  0  1  5 .167  71
1983 Rafael Santana  STL-N R 25    2B9 SS6 3B4 0.57  30 17  1  3   0   2  0  1  2  2 .214  61
1983 M. Jorgensen  NYM-ATL L 34       1B38 OF6 0.88  95 84 10 18   6  11  0  1 10 12 .250 100
1984 Mike Squires    CHI-A L 32    CI90 OF3 P1 0.86 104 89  9 15   1   6  2  2  6  7 .183  20
1985 Manny Lee       TOR-A B 20  MI46  DH8 3B5 0.67  64 43  9  8   0   0  1  4  2  9 .200  21
1986 Lynn Jones       KC-A R 33   OF62 DH3 2B1 0.81  67 54  1  6   2   1  0  0  6  5 .128  10
1988 Jose Gonzalez    LA-N R 23           OF24 0.70  37 26  7  2   1   0  3  0  2 10 .083 -18
1989 Jim Lindeman    STL-N R 27       1B42 OF5 0.68  73 50  8  5   1   2  0  0  3 18 .111 -15
     Average 1980s           28                0.75  63 47  7  8   1   4  1  1  3  9 .187  34

For some reason, a high proportion of these guys in the ’80s were first base defensive specialists. Two deserve particular mention. Ken Smith of the 1983 Braves was deployed by manager Joe Torre as a defensive replacement 13 times, a pinch-runner 8 times, and a pinch-hitter 11 times. Yet the previous year, Torre had used Smith as an extreme pinch-hitting specialist, pinch-hitting in 41 of his 48 games, and never pinch-running.

And Mike Squires of the 1984 White Sox was deployed by manager Tony LaRussa in an extraordinarily unusual manner: despite the fact that Squires threw left-handed, he was deployed at third base in 13 games (where he handled 12 fielding chances without an error), making Squires one of the very, very few left-handed-throwing third basemen in modern major league history. LaRussa had previously used Squires as a catcher in two games in 1980, making Squires also one of the very, very few left-handed-throwing catchers in modern major league history.

The 1990s

The incidence of non-batting batters declined further, to just 13, despite the fact that there were 30 teams in MLB by decade’s end.

Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1990 Rodney McCray   CHI-A R 26       OF13 DH7 0.22  32  7  8  0   0   0  6  0  1  4 .000 -56
1990 Dave Collins    STL-N B 37      1B49 OF12 0.75  99 74 12 13   1   3  7  1 13 10 .224  72
1991 Jose Gonzalez    LA-N R 26           OF27 0.71  42 30  3  0   0   0  0  0  2  9 .000 -79
1992 Jarvis Brown    MIN-A R 25       OF31 DH2 0.51  35 18  8  1   0   0  2  2  2  4 .067 -16
1993 Bill Pecota     ATL-N R 33   3B23 2B4 OF1 0.90  72 65 17 20   3   5  1  1  2  5 .323  94
1994 Tim Spehr       MON-N R 27        C46 OF2 0.79  52 41  8  9   4   5  2  0  4 11 .250  85
1995 Rene Gonzales   CAL-A R 34   3B18 2B6 SS1 0.60  30 18  1  6   2   3  0  0  0  4 .333 127
1996 Miguel Mejia    STL-N R 21           OF21 0.51  45 23 10  2   0   0  6  3  0 10 .087 -54
1996 Tim Spehr       MON-N R 29        C58 OF1 0.78  63 49  4  4   2   3  1  0  3 15 .091  -9
1996 Tyler Houston   ATL-N L 25       1B11 OF1 0.85  33 28  3  6   4   8  0  0  1  9 .222  83
1997 Tim Unroe       MIL-A R 26   CI25 OF2 2B1 0.56  32 18  3  4   3   5  2  0  2  9 .250 157
1999 Melvin Mora      NY-N R 27   OF45 MI5 3B3 0.59  66 39  6  5   0   1  2  1  4  7 .161  18
1999 Jorge Velandia  OAK-A R 24   MI60 3B2 DH1 0.81  63 51  4  9   1   2  2  0  2 13 .188  15
     Average 1990s           28                0.69  51 35  7  6   1   3  2  1  3  8 .192  41

Rodney McCray of the 1990 White Sox, managed by Jeff Torborg, was deployed in something close to the old Finley-style pinch-running specialist mode.

The most impressive story here, and probably the most impressive story among any of the non-batting batters in history, is that of Melvin Mora. Signed by the Mets as a scrap-heap 27-year-old free agent with no major league experience, Mora was used by manager Bobby Valentine in 1999 in a last-guy-on-the-bench garbage-time non-batting batter mode. But the next season, Mora played his way into a semi-regular role, and after being traded to Baltimore, he has emerged in his thirties as an outstanding player, a two-time All-Star.

The 2000s

The incidence of non-batting batters remains down, but it isn’t out. Despite ever-larger bullpens creating ever-shorter benches, the use of this role stubbornly persists.

Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
2000 Charles Gipson  SEA-A R 27  OF48 IF10 DH1 0.56  59 33  7  9   2   3  2  3  4  9 .310 114
2000 M. Christensen  CHI-A L 24           OF29 0.69  32 22  4  2   0   1  1  1  2  6 .105 -13
2000 T. Hubbard      BAL-A R 36       OF24 DH6 0.87  31 27  3  5   1   0  2  1  0  3 .185  14
2001 Glen Barker     HOU-N R 30           OF60 0.43  70 30 12  2   0   1  4  6  3  6 .083 -14
2001 Charles Gipson  SEA-A R 28 OF65 DH11 IF16 0.77  94 72 16 14   4   5  1  1  4 20 .200  62
2002 Luis Ugueto     SEA-A B 23  DH16 MI19 3B1 0.40  62 25 19  5   1   1  8  4  2  8 .217  72
2002 Gerald Williams  NY-A R 35       OF30 DH1 0.58  33 19  6  0   0   0  2  0  2  4 .000 -68
2005 Adam Stern      BOS-A L 25           OF21 0.44  36 16  4  2   1   2  1  1  0  4 .133  34
2005 Gerald Williams  NY-N R 38           OF27 0.82  39 32  9  7   3   3  2  0  1  7 .233  70
     Average 2000s           30                0.61  51 31  9  5   1   2  3  2  2  7 .185  41

As with pure pinch-hitting specialists, the wisdom of devoting a roster spot to a player to be used in such a limited capacity is highly questionable. If indeed a player’s bat is so feeble as to warrant being limited to so few plate appearances, he really doesn’t belong on a major league roster. And if a player has reasonable batting skill, limiting him to such infrequent opportunities with the bat unquestionably undermines his capacity to perform with the bat. I’m of the opinion that every player on the bench ought to get a start, get two or three or four plate appearances, at least once a week or so, in order to remain sharp. Relegating a player to a role in which he almost never comes to bat seems to pretty much ensure that, when needed to hit, he won’t be able to hit well.

Top Ten Fewest Plate Appearances Per Game
Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1974 Herb Washington OAK-A R 22                0.00  92  0 29  0   0   0 29 16  0  0   NA  NA
1973 Allan Lewis     OAK-A B 31        DH6 OF1 0.00  35  0 16  0   0   0  7  4  0  0   NA  NA
1976 Larry Lintz     OAK-A B 26   DH19 2B5 OF3 0.06  68  4 21  0   0   0 31 11  2  0 .000 112
1980 Matt Alexander  PIT-N B 33        OF4 2B1 0.08  37  3 13  1   1   0 10  3  0  0 .333 171
1975 Don Hopkins     OAK-A L 23       DH20 OF5 0.10  82  8 25  1   0   0 21  9  2  0 .167  60
1954 Dick Schofield  STL-N B 19           SS11 0.16  43  7 17  1   1   1  1  1  0  3 .143  42
1975 Matt Alexander  OAK-A B 28  DH17 OF11 IF5 0.17  63 11 16  1   0   0 17 10  1  1 .100 -17
1967 Allan Lewis     OAK-A B 25                0.18  34  6  7  1   0   0 14  5  0  3 .167   0
1990 Rodney McCray   CHI-A R 26       OF13 DH7 0.22  32  7  8  0   0   0  6  0  1  4 .000 -56
1978 Pepe Frias      MON-N R 29  2B16 SS14 3B1 0.23  73 17  5  4   3   5  0  0  0  3 .267 115

Top Ten Fewest Plate Appearances Per Game By Players Not On Charlie Finley’s A’s
Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1980 Matt Alexander  PIT-N B 33        OF4 2B1 0.08  37  3 13  1   1   0 10  3  0  0 .333 171
1954 Dick Schofield  STL-N B 19           SS11 0.16  43  7 17  1   1   1  1  1  0  3 .143  42
1990 Rodney McCray   CHI-A R 26       OF13 DH7 0.22  32  7  8  0   0   0  6  0  1  4 .000 -56
1978 Pepe Frias      MON-N R 29  2B16 SS14 3B1 0.23  73 17  5  4   3   5  0  0  0  3 .267 115
1979 Sergio Ferrer    NY-N B 28   3B12 SS5 2B4 0.28  32  9  7  0   0   0  0  2  2  3 .000 -32
1956 Billy Consolo   BOS-A R 21           2B25 0.29  48 14 13  2   0   1  0  0  3  5 .182  40
1965 Ross Moschitto   NY-A R 20           OF89 0.29  96 28 12  5   1   3  0  0  0 12 .185  33
1979 Matt Alexander  PIT-N B 32       OF11 SS1 0.30  44 13 16  7   1   1 13  1  0  0 .538 228
1965 Bob Schroder     SF-N L 20        2B4 3B1 0.32  31 10  4  2   0   1  0  0  1  1 .222  48
1956 Rocky Bridges   CIN-N R 28  3B51 MI15 OF1 0.32  71 23  9  4   0   1  1  2  4  3 .211  52

Top Ten Most Games By Non-Batting Batters
Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1963 Jack Reed        NY-A R 30           OF89 0.77 106 82 18 15   4   1  5  1  9 14 .205  61
1947 Chuck Diering   STL-N R 24           OF75 0.92 105 97 22 16   6  11  3  ? 19 22 .216  96
1984 Mike Squires    CHI-A L 32    CI90 OF3 P1 0.86 104 89  9 15   1   6  2  2  6  7 .183  20
1956 Gene Stephens   BOS-A L 23           OF71 0.72 104 75 22 17   3   7  0  1 12 12 .270  87
1982 Bobby Clark     CAL-A R 27          OF102 0.91 102 93 11 19   3   8  1  0  0 29 .211  35
1990 Dave Collins    STL-N B 37      1B49 OF12 0.75  99 74 12 13   1   3  7  1 13 10 .224  72
1965 Ross Moschitto   NY-A R 20           OF89 0.29  96 28 12  5   1   3  0  0  0 12 .185  33
1983 M. Jorgensen  NYM-ATL L 34       1B38 OF6 0.88  95 84 10 18   6  11  0  1 10 12 .250 100
2001 Charles Gipson  SEA-A R 28 OF65 DH11 IF16 0.77  94 72 16 14   4   5  1  1  4 20 .200  62
1962 Tim Harkness     LA-N L 24           1B59 0.79  92 73  9 16   4   7  1  0 10 20 .258 110

Top Ten Lowest OPS+ By Non-Batting Batters
Year Player           Team B Age      G by POS PA/G   G PA  R  H XBH RBI SB CS BB SO   BA OPS+
1976 Matt Alexander  OAK-A B 29      OF23 DH19 0.49  61 30 16  1   0   0 20  7  0  5 .033 -80
1991 Jose Gonzalez    LA-N R 26           OF27 0.71  42 30  3  0   0   0  0  0  2  9 .000 -79
1978 Darrell Woodard OAK-A R 21   2B14 3B1 DH1 0.30  33 10 10  0   0   0  3  4  1  1 .000 -69
2002 Gerald Williams  NY-A R 35       OF30 DH1 0.58  33 19  6  0   0   0  2  0  2  4 .000 -68
1966 J. Hernandez    CAL-A R 25  3B11 MI16 OF3 0.45  58 26 19  1   0   2  1  1  1  4 .043 -63
1990 Rodney McCray   CHI-A R 26       OF13 DH7 0.22  32  7  8  0   0   0  6  0  1  4 .000 -56
1996 Miguel Mejia    STL-N R 21           OF21 0.51  45 23 10  2   0   0  6  3  0 10 .087 -54
1980 Joe Cannon      TOR-A L 26       OF33 DH1 0.73  70 51 16  4   0   4  2  2  0 14 .080 -51
1975 Rodney Scott     KC-A B 21   DH22 2B9 SS8 0.38  48 18 13  1   0   0  4  2  1  3 .067 -45
1979 Sergio Ferrer    NY-N B 28   3B12 SS5 2B4 0.28  32  9  7  0   0   0  0  2  2  3 .000 -32

References & Resources
After this piece was published, an alert reader contacted me and informed me that I had overlooked a non-batting batter … and not just any non-batting batter, but the authentic first in history! See THT Notes for the Errata.

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Cannons and Popguns — Rating Outfield Arms
Next: Around the Majors: Tino Martinez retires »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>