July, 22, 2014
By Doug Mittler | ESPN Insider
In an era of increased specialization, one of baseball's unique jobs is not faring well in general. While offense is down throughout the game, pinch hitters are struggling at an even higher rate in 2014.
Entering Tuesday, pinch hitters were hitting a mere .211 this season, a full 41 points below baseball's batting average for all hitters, and last year pinch hitters batted just .217.
That is something to keep in mind as July 31 approaches. All teams looking to add a backup position player hope the new player can provide value as a pinch hitter. Here are some veterans who might be available with their pinch-hitting prowess in mind:
- Travis Snider, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: The promotion of Gregory Polanco has cut into Snider's at-bats, and Snider could be a bargaining chip as the Pirates look to add another reliever. Snider is tied for the major league lead with 11 pinch hits, including a run-scoring double against the Rockies last Friday that snapped an eighth-inning tie.
- Ryan Doumit, OF/C, Atlanta Braves: Evan Gattis returned from the disabled list Monday, moving Doumit further down the depth chart in Atlanta. Doumit has a .248 BA and four home runs in 149 career pinch-hit at-bats.
- Bobby Abreu, OF, New York Mets: Even if the Mets are not major sellers at the deadline, they could look to deal the 40-year outfielder. But a word of caution: Abreu may be hitting .259 overall, but he's just 2-for-27 (.074) as a pinch hitter, his primary role for any contender.