These are the men who have made the Padres the most prodigiously powerful pinch-hitting team in the majors.
That’s right, the Padres lead the majors in an offensive category: pinch-hit home runs. They’re running away with it, too, with 11 pinch-hit blasts on the season. No other team has more than eight.
Spangy, Yasi, and Carlos? They’ve each hit two. Spangenberg’s bomb on Saturday was the team’s 11th, and his second, in only his fifth game as a major-leaguer.
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So, are the Padres pinch-hitters are the best in the bigs? Well, no. As a team, they’re still hitting .216 in this substitute role. But pinch-hitting averages are considerably lower than BAs as a whole. The league average for pinch hitters is .221. But when it comes to putting balls into the seats, San Diego has no peer this year.
The Padres have more pinch-hit ABs than any other team, too. When much of your starting lineup has spent most of the year below the Mendoza line, it’s easy to understand why you’d want to put someone else up to hit. And on a team where many of the power hitters play only first base or left field, there have often been players with some pop on the bench late in the game.
A cynical fan might then say that this accomplishment is partially the result of a poorly constructed team, one in which the most powerful hitters often remain on the bench because their only position is already filled with another power hitter.
But we’ve had too much cynicism this year. Let’s celebrate this accomplishment instead. Bud Black attributed the achievement to several factors:
"“It’s something we talk about and plan for. With the second hitting coach, the ballpark with underneath batting cages, the ability to take swings, video of pitching, you can get a guy or guys dialed in as best as you can,” Black said. “I think our guys do a great job.”"
In addition to home runs, Padres pinch-hitters are also first in the majors in runs scored, and are second in RBI.
The 11 home runs set a new team record, breaking the old record of 10, set in 1995.
And with players like Spangenberg, Medica, and Grandal coming off the bench, we might just see some more late-inning home runs from the reserves before the year is over.
Keep the Faith.