Happy 47th birthday to the journeyman pinch-hit specialist, Matt Stairs. He was born in New Brunswick, Canada and he was drafted by the Montreal Expos of his native land.
His debut came 3 years later with Montreal. He played 19 seasons with 12 different teams. Stairs played for six National League teams and six American League teams.
He is also the holder of the all-time record for pinch-hit home runs with 23 in 490 pinch-hits. Although he played outfield and first base throughout his career, he is most known for his off-the-bench play.
Matt Stairs finished with 265 home runs and 1,366 hits. The highlight of his career was probably when he was apart of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team.
He spent most of that season with Toronto before being shipped to Philly towards the end of the year. He hit .294 in the 16 regular season games he played for the Phillies that year. In that postseason, he hit a go-ahead 2-run home run in the 8th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers to help the Phillies take a commanding lead in the series.
He played just one season for the San Diego Padres and mainly came off the bench. He hit .232 in 99 at-bats with 6 home runs.
The highlight of his Padres career came in a 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning against Milwaukee’s Kameron Loe. He then launched a shot into the right field seats for a two-run home run. That home run was significant because it was his 21st pinch-hit home run of his career, which broke the all-time record.
He is now considered one of the best “off-the-bench” players in history. His best overall season of his career was easily 1999. He clubbed a career-high 38 home runs with 102 RBI. He also slugged .533 with 26 doubles. That year, he out-slugged the likes of Jim Thome, Jose Canseco and Jason Giambi. From 1997 to 2006, he was basically an everyday player playing between 107 to 149 games.
Although he didn’t put up any crazy stats with the Padres, he was a good veteran presence in a clubhouse that was making a playoff push.
That was the last time the Padres even got close to the playoffs. There is something to be said about bringing in a seasoned veteran to a young club even if their 30+ home run days are gone. Perhaps Matt Kemp can play that role this year. Although I am praying he can hit more than 6 home runs and better than .232. Stairs was never an All-Star or Gold Glover, but he was good to have in the clubhouse.
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