Coming in Cold 3: October, in a Pinch

Delmon Young had the seventh-best single pinch-hit plate appearance ever in 2014. (via Keith Allison)

Delmon Young had the seventh-best single postseason pinch-hit plate appearance ever in 2014. (via Keith Allison)

A couple months ago, I wrote an article profiling some of recent baseball history’s most prolific pinch-hitters, looking at how well they performed those duties off the bench. In the comments, one reader asked whether I might take a similar look at postseason play. I demurred at the time, thinking I was done with the topic.

One piece on the pinch-hitting penalty later, I decided I might as well take a look at that idea while I was in the neighborhood. So today I’ll be discussing pinch-hitting in the playoffs, with my own takes on who has been best and worst at it.

There are two ways I will be calculating postseason performances. The first is with Win Percentage Added (WPA), which I prefer to Run Expectancy (RE24). As I’ve observed before, some deprecate WPA as a “story” stat, but I consider that a plus in this situation. Pinch-hitters are used with deliberate awareness of the leverage of the game situation, so a statistic like WPA that provides greater rewards for success in high-leverage spots strikes me as a fair measure.

The second metric is a house specialty here at The Hardball Times: Championships Added. It starts with WPA, then multiplies that by Championship Value of each postseason game, which is how much each game affects the probabilities of who will win the World Series. Championship Value is essentially a Leverage Index on a larger scale, measuring whole games rather than in-game events. A few examples will illustrate the concept.

Game Seven of the World Series has a Championship Value of 1: whoever wins it wins the title. Game Six has a Championship Value of 0.5, the margin between one team winning it all or a 50/50 proposition in Game Seven. Other games have differing values depending on the stage of the series and how far ahead one team is. Games in earlier playoff series generally will have lower values , though not always. For example, a Wild Card game has a 0.125 value, which beats the 0.09375 of Game One in a Division Series.

Championships Added (or ChampAdded, as I’ll be abbreviating it) is a good way of looking at postseason pinch-hitting, but it isn’t perfect. You don’t have to hold a pinch-hitter out of a lower-leverage game to use him in a high-leverage one, the way you might save him for maximum effect within a game. His ChampAdded leverage will have an extra layer of luck to it, partly due to whether his team even plays the high-leverage games instead of winning (or losing) early.

To see the effect of luck, consider Dusty Rhodes. (I had wished to consider his pinch-hitting work in the first installment of this series, but regular-season records were too incomplete.) He got into a single World Series with the Giants in 1954 and was inserted as a pinch-hitter three times, replacing left fielder Monte Irvin each time.

Rhodes exploited all those chances. In Game One, he broke a 10th-inning tie with a walk-off three-run homer. In Game Two, his fifth-inning RBI single tied the game at one. In Game Three, a two-run single in the third stretched his Giants’ lead from one run to three.

With three pinch-hitting chances in three tight games, Rhodes got run-producing hits each time. (This doesn’t include three non-pinch PAs, in which he struck out twice and got another homer.) You can’t beat that performance, right? Wrong.

By WPA, Rhodes doesn’t make the top 15 of postseason pinch-hitters. He appeared too early in Games Two and Three for really huge swings in Win Expectancy, and with the winning run at second with one gone in Game One, his home run ended up being overkill. Going by Championships Added, he fares even worse, as the Giants’ sweep precluded any truly pivotal games. Rhodes made the most of his opportunities, but they weren’t quite the right opportunities.

I could try using RE24 instead, measuring how batters perform in their specific base-out states without the situational leverage entering the equation. The hitch is that, as noted in Part One, I cannot comb out separate REs for each plate appearance when a pinch-hitter bats again that game. This happens for a lot of postseason pinch-hitters, including Rhodes himself in two games. This is why I will stick with ChampAdded and WPA and not go beyond them.

Ground Rules

This leads me to setting out the bounds of the data, starting with using pinch-hit chances only. A player who pinch-hits and then stays in the game for one or more subsequent plate appearances will have only his first time up counted. For a non-Rhodes example, in Game Five of the 1917 World Series, White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte relieved Reb Russell three batters into the game. John McGraw then lifted Jim Thorpe for his platoon-mate Dave Robertson, still in the top of the first. Robertson would bat five times, but I count only the first. (It was an RBI single, worth 0.11 WPA and 0.055 ChampAdded.)

I make an exception I mentioned in Part One of this series for players whose teams bat around. Someone who bats twice in an inning where he pinch-hits gets both counted, because I consider that he hasn’t “fully” entered the flow of the game by fielding a position. (This criterion gets awkward for designated hitters, but I’m sticking with it.) A great historical instance is George Burns hitting sixth and 15th in the historic bottom of the seventh in Game Four of the 1929 A’s-Cubs World Series. (He popped out and struck out, or Philly might still be playing that inning.)

Also, a player who enters as a defensive replacement does not count as a pinch-hitter the first time he comes to the plate. This is rather a pity for Pirates fans, otherwise Hal Smith would be the all-time Championships Added pinch-hitting king. He clouted a three-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth in Game Seven of the 1960 Series, putting Pittsburgh up 9-7 and garnering both 0.636 WPA and 0.636 ChampAdded. Too bad he’d taken over as catcher in the top of the eighth. Well, bad from the perspective of pinch-hitting. And of the Yankees.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Lastly, I count only the hitting element of the player’s first time up. If he then steals a base or otherwise gains (or loses) value before the sides change, that does not count. This seems an obvious rule, but without it Kevin Mitchell would find himself on a couple of leaderboards.

Mitchell’s pinch-hit single in Game Six of the 1986 World Series kept his New York Mets alive, but only to the tune of about 0.04 WPA and 0.02 ChampAdded. Two batters later, he came home on Bob Stanley’s wild pitch to tie the Red Sox. That’s where he piled up points, as WPA for that play is credited to the lead runner advancing. (Ray Knight was out of luck, for the moment.)

Had I counted Mitchell’s run, he would have had the eighth-biggest single-PA ChampAdded, and 10th-highest for his career. But I didn’t credit him with what, in this case, wasn’t much his doing. One can only hope his World Series ring is adequate compensation for his exclusion here.

Quantity Before Quality

Who’s done the most postseason pinch-hitting? The list obviously is stacked with recent players who had more rounds and more chances. Some of history’s most prolific pinch-hitters get spaces high on the list, including Lenny Harris (with 12 PAs), Mark Sweeney (14), Danny Heep (13), Lee Mazzilli (13), Terry Crowley (12), and Vic Davalillo (15). Greg Colbrunn stands in third place with 16, but beyond him is an amazing jump to the tie for first.

Orlando Palmeiro and Luis Polonia were sent up to pinch-hit 25 times each in postseason play, over 50 percent more than any other player. Palmeiro did so in a concentrated time span, from 2002 to 2005. He got five PAs with the Angels in 2002, four of those in the World Series. Then with Houston in 2004, he pinch-hit in all 12 of the Astros’ postseason games before the Cardinals eliminated them. Eight more with the Astros the next year finished off Palmeiro’s dash to the top.

Polonia took the longer approach. He got three pinch-hit PAs during Oakland’s 1988 playoff run, then nothing else until he fetched up with the Atlanta Braves in 1995. That was a good time and place for frequent October baseball. That year and the next, Polonia compiled 18 pinch-hit attempts in a pair of three-round runs. He slipped out of the majors for two years after that but climbed back in and capped his October pinch-hitting career with four for the 2000 Yankees.

It’s a little ironic that, in three stints with the Yanks, Polonia got just one playoff trip. One might expect a huge advantage in postseason opportunities for New York Yankees, since they’ve been there so often. While they do get some players on the PH leaderboard (Jim Leyritz, Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra), it’s not at all overwhelming. There is plenty of luck. One season as a role player on a team making a deep run can spin the counter fast.

First the Bad News

Finished with the most, we’ll now look at the best and worst. Since I’m a ‘vegetables before dessert’ fellow, we’ll start with the worst, beginning with career totals.

Worst Postseason PH Production for Career
Player WPA Place Player ChAdd
Danny Heep -0.579 1 Paul Sorrento -0.2061
Cliff Bolton -0.547 2 Cliff Bolton -0.2051
Orlando Palmeiro -0.493 3 Luis Polonia -0.1940
John Vander Wal -0.485 4 Jay Bell -0.1929
Jorge Posada -0.464 5 Danny Heep -0.1869
Jeff Blauser -0.442 6 Brian Hunter -0.1794
Earl Smith -0.404 7 Tom McBride -0.1766
Paul Sorrento -0.402 8 Merv Rettenmund -0.1568
Hernan Perez -0.401 9 Vic Davalillo -0.1508
Vic Davalillo -0.400 10 Jeff Blauser -0.1434

Kindly observe our postseason pinch-hit attempt leaders, Palmeiro and Polonia. They both come in at number three, on different scales. Just because you are getting lots of chances doesn’t necessarily prove you are justifying getting them. Other players high on the all-time ranks of regular-season pinch-hitting — including Heep, Vander Wal, Davalillo, and Rettenmund — also make the laggard-boards.

None of the pinch-hitters coughed up a whole game or championship, or anything close to it. It is tougher to lose a huge amount of WPA or ChampAdded than to gain a huge amount. This is because it’s more common for a batter to fail in baseball than to succeed. WPA is thus centered on a presumed probability of failure, meaning actual failure moves the needle less than actual success.

On to single-game results. The teams in question usually lost the games with these PH failures, but not always.

Worst Single-PA Postseason PH Result (By WPA)
Place Player Game WPA
10 Bobby Murcer 1981 WS Gm. 3 (NYYvLAD) -0.254
9 Turner Barber 1918 WS Gm. 4 (CHCvBOS) -0.26
8 Brian Hunter 1992 NLCS Gm. 7 (ATLvPIT)* -0.263
7 Earl Smith 1922 WS Gm. 1 (NYGvNYY)* -0.267
6 Terrence Long 2003 ALDS Gm. 5 (OAKvBOS) -0.28
5 Sibby Sisti 1948 WS Gm. 6 (BSNvCLE) -0.286
4 Lance Painter 1995 NLDS Gm. 1 (COLvATL) -0.301
3 Adam Melhuse 2003 ALDS Gm. 5 (OAKvBOS) -0.303
2 Hernan Perez 2014 ALDS Gm. 3 (DETvBAL) -0.331
1 Cliff Bolton 1933 WS Gm. 4 (WASvNYG) -0.547

* Player’s team won game and series

I will not describe all these critical pinch-hitting failures (or successes), because your patience has limits. All the games are hyperlinked, so you can see the situations for yourself. I will choose some events for particular interest, such as times when the big choke was overcome and the team won anyway.

The 1992 Braves were two outs away from elimination by the Pirates when Brian Hunter came in to bat for Rafael Belliard. The bases loaded in front of him, he could win the NL pennant with a single or lose it with a twin killing. He did dodge what would have been the worst ChampAdded pinch-hitting appearance ever, but his popout to Jose Lind left Atlanta one out from elimination. What happened after that is chronicled below.

(For those who know how that story ends, it might seem unfair or arbitrary that a teammate’s failure increased the magnitude of Cabrera’s success. Really, it’s the nature of the beast. For one at-bat to produce the hugest swings in WPA, the batter’s team has to be behind. The pinch-hitter’s teammates have to have failed somewhere along the line to produce that chance. Hunter’s failure is just more dramatic for having happened so close to the subsequent success.)

Earl “Oil” Smith’s chance came in the seventh inning of Game One against the Yankees. His Giants, down two, had the bases stuffed with one out, but his 6-4-3 double play killed the rally. The Giants did better in the eighth, tying the game on Irish Meusel’s single and going ahead on Ross Youngs’ sac fly. The Yankees started their own comeback in the ninth, but Bob Meusel, brother of Irish, lined into a DP to wipe the bases clean. One batter later, the Giants took Game One on their way to a sweep.

Oakland was trailing Boston with two outs left in the 2003 ALDS, but with the winning runs in scoring position the A’s were actually favorites to win the game and the series. Adam Melhuse got the first chance to be a pinch-hit hero, but he took Derek Lowe’s 2-2 pitch for called strike three. After Chris Singleton worked a walk to load the bases, Terrence Long came to the plate — and struck out looking just as Melhuse had. Maybe this is better listed under clutch relief moments in the playoffs, but that’s not today’s topic. Sorry, Derek.

Hernan Perez’s flameout last October was almost prosaic: first and second, one out, and he hit into a round-the-horn double play. But it ended the game with his Tigers a run down, completing Baltimore’s sweep. As we’ll see, there are even worse situations, and games, in which to ground into a two-fer.

Worst Single-PA Postseason PH Result (By ChampAdded)
Place Player Game ChAdd
10 Turner Barber 1918 WS Gm. 4 (CHCvBOS) -0.0975
9 Luis Polonia 1996 WS Gm. 5 (ATLvNYY) -0.1055
8 Merv Rettenmund 1975 WS Gm. 7 (CINvBOS)* -0.114
7 Joe Hague 1972 WS Gm. 7 (CINvOAK) -0.127
6 Brian Hunter 1992 NLCS Gm. 7 (ATLvPIT)* -0.1315
5 Paul Sorrento 1991 WS Gm. 7 (MINvATL)* -0.14
4 Sibby Sisti 1948 WS Gm. 6 (BSNvCLE) -0.143
3 Tom McBride 1946 WS Gm. 7 (BOSvSTL) -0.158
2 Jay Bell 2001 WS Gm. 7 (ARIvNYY)* -0.187
1 Cliff Bolton 1933 WS Gm. 4 (WASvNYG) -0.2051

* Player’s team won game and series

Half the games on this list were Game Seven in the World Series, far and away the best time for Championships Added movement. Despite that advantage, the biggest moment is in a Game Four, and an LCS game makes the list. (A final game in the LCS has the same modifier (0.5) as Game Six in the Series, or Game Five if it’s 2-2.)

Rettenmund’s failure came quite early, in the top of the fifth, thanks to Sparky Anderson’s “Captain Hook” maneuvers. His Reds down three, Merv had runners on the corners with one out, but Bill Lee induced an inning-ending double play. Cincinnati would get its comeback going the next inning on Tony Perez’s homer. This is similar to the 1991 case. Sorrento struck out with a runner on third to end the ninth inning still scoreless; his Twins would break the stalemate an inning later.

Jay Bell was expecting to make an out, as he was bunting with two D-backs aboard in the last of the ninth. When Mariano Rivera fielded his bunt, Bell might have begun expecting better things: Rivera had thrown a bunted ball off-line one batter before to put himself in his pickle. But Mariano made the play this time, cutting down the lead runner at third for the first out. He would not get another one.

Sibby Sisti’s bunting game fared worse still. Batting for Warren Spahn in the home ninth after a lead-off walk, Sisti’s bunt at a Gene Bearden knuckleball produced a low pop. Cleveland catcher Jim Hegan dashed in front of the plate to snare it, then threw to Joe Gordon covering first to double off the runner. One could be forgiven for thinking Spahn, a pretty fair hitter, should have batted for himself.

The Senators gave up a run in the top of the 11th, but they had the bases loaded with one down for Cliff Bolton. Scratching out a single off Carl Hubbell would win Washington the game and level the series. Instead, Bolton hit into a 6-4-3 twin killing, and the Giants would win the championship the next day.

Now the Good News

Dessert time! No more depressing tales, unless you’re a fan of a team these pinch-hitters knocked around in a big situation. I’ll touch on just a few of the career leaders, saving others for their big clutch moments.

Best Postseason PH Production for Career
Player WPA Place Player ChAdd
Francisco Cabrera 1.083 1 Francisco Cabrera 0.4106
Gonzalo Marquez 0.893 2 Del Unser 0.3588
Kirk Gibson 0.870 3 Bobby Brown 0.2924
Allen Craig 0.777 4 Kirk Gibson 0.2719
Del Unser 0.700 5 Carson Bigbee 0.2598
Trot Nixon 0.691 6 Clyde Engle 0.2549
John Lowenstein 0.677 7 Allen Craig 0.2499
Delmon Young 0.612 8 Dane Iorg 0.2474
Cookie Lavagetto 0.594 9 Olaf Henriksen 0.2286
Eric Hinske 0.591 10 Don Mincher 0.1909

Del Unser made the lists on the strength of one postseason, in 1980. He went 3-for-5 pinch-hitting, all three hits knocking in runs with his Phillies down but close. Every PA was high-leverage, above 3.0 aLI, but his outs were in the less critical stages of the NLCS, while his hits came in the pennant-deciding game and in the World Series.

Delmon Young made the WPA primarily on one clutch blow in last year’s ALDS, but he’s 2-for-3 in other playoff PH chances. Trot Nixon did it going 2-for-2 plus a walk, spread out from 1998 to 2007. Neither man had a pinch-hit PA past the early ALCS, though, so their successes don’t push them far up the ChampAdded ladder.

The Bobby Brown on the ChampAdded list is the Yankees’ utility infielder of the late ’40s and early ’50s, not the outfielder who made two World Series in the 1980s. The older Brown was 4-for-7 pinch-hitting in the Fall Classic, plus a critical reached-on-error off the Phillies in Game Three of 1950. He’s easily the pinch-hitter who gets the biggest boost from playing on the Yankee dynasty teams.

Best Single-PA Postseason PH Result (By WPA)
Place Player Game WPA
10 J.T. Snow 2000 NLDS Gm. 2 (SFvNYM)* 0.478
9 Francisco Cabrera 1993 NLCS Gm. 5 (ATLvPHI)* 0.487
8 Don Mincher 1972 WS Gm. 4 (OAKvCIN) 0.52
7 Delmon Young 2014 ALDS Gm. 2 (BALvDET) 0.526
6 Eric Hinske 2010 NLDS Gm. 3 (ATLvsSF)* 0.557
5 Ed Sprague 1992 WS Gm. 2 (TORvATL) 0.669
4 Gonzalo Marquez 1972 ALCS Gm. 1 (OAKvDET) 0.71
3 Francisco Cabrera 1992 NLCS Gm. 7 (ATLvPIT) 0.737
2 Cookie Lavagetto 1947 WS Gm. 4 (BROvNYY)+ 0.823
1 Kirk Gibson 1988 WS Gm. 1 (LADvOAK) 0.87

* Player’s team lost game and series
+ Player’s team won game, lost series

Cabrera’s 1993 blow was nearly deja vu all over again. His team down one in the bottom of the ninth in a tied LCS, he stroked a single. This time, though, only one man scored, as Terry Pendleton held at third. There being one out, this was perhaps prudent, but it curdled on the Braves. Mark Lemke whiffed and Bill Pecota flied out, and Lenny Dykstra smacked a homer in the visitors’ 10th to put Philadelphia ahead for good.

The other defeats on this leaderboard follow similar paths. Snow’s three-run dinger tied up a game in the last of the ninth that the Mets won in 10. Hinske’s two-run homer put Atlanta ahead in the eighth, only for the Giants to get those two back in the ninth and win.

Lavagetto’s big blow was a double over right fielder Tommy Henrich’s head that scored the tying and winning runs from second and first. It was also Brooklyn’s first, last, and only hit of the game. Cookie’s game-winning blow broke up New York pitcher Bill Bevens’ no-hitter one out from eternal glory. The Yankees would redeem that lost no-hitter, with interest, against the Dodgers nine years later.

Sprague’s big blow was a ninth-inning homer, ho-hum, but Marquez had more irony behind his. After Detroit pulled ahead in the visitors’ 11th on Al Kaline’s solo four-bagger, Oakland rallied in its half, giving Marquez a first-and-second, one-out opportunity. He lined a hit to right field, and as the tying run came home, Kaline threw to third. The ball skipped past Aurelio Rodriguez, and with pitcher Chuck Seelbach having covered home on the hit, there was no backup. Gene Tenace scored the winning run, sending Kaline from hero to goat.

Best Single-PA Postseason PH Result (By ChampAdded)
Place Player Game ChAdd
10 Del Unser 1980 WS Gm. 5 (PHIvKCR) 0.197
9 Ed Sprague 1992 WS Gm. 2 (TORvATL) 0.2091
8 Bernie Carbo 1975 WS Gm. 6 (BOSvCIN)+ 0.221
7 Dane Iorg 1985 WS Gm. 6 (KCRvSTL) 0.231
6 Clyde Engle 1912 WS Gm. 8 (BOSvNYG) 0.244
5 Olaf Henriksen 1912 WS Gm. 8 (BOSvNYG) 0.248
4 Kirk Gibson 1988 WS Gm. 1 (LADvOAK) 0.2719
3 Carson Bigbee 1925 WS Gm. 7 (PITvWAS) 0.295
2 Cookie Lavagetto 1947 WS Gm. 4 (BROvNYY)+ 0.3086
1 Francisco Cabrera 1992 NLCS Gm. 7 (ATLvPIT) 0.3685

+ Player’s team won game, lost series

Unser’s ninth-inning double knocked in Mike Schmidt to tie the Royals on the way to a Phillies win. Carbo’s three-run tater erased Cincinnati’s lead in the home eighth and was the moment this game’s bid for all-time greatness began. Iorg’s bases-loaded single drove in Kansas City’s tying and winning runs, finishing the rally that Jorge Orta and, infamously, Don Denkinger’s missed call started.

Numbers five and six were crucial in deciding the only World Series ever to go past the limit. (Game Two was a tie, meaning the best-of-seven match was decided in an eighth game.) Henriksen’s pinch work came in the seventh, his two-out double off Christy Mathewson tying the game 1-1. After the Giants pulled ahead, 2-1, in the top of the 10th, Engle led off Boston’s half batting for Smoky Joe Wood. His easy fly ball fell into, and out of, center fielder Fred Snodgrass’ glove. What would forever be known as Snodgrass’ Muff put Engle on second, setting up the rally that would give the Red Sox the title.

Kirk Gibson’s feat needs little recounting. The only way his WPA could have been higher was if Mike Davis had stayed on first rather than swiping second. As for Championships Added, Game One, even of the World Series, is not the ideal time to accumulate that. Despite that handicap, it’s the fourth most decisive pinch-hitting feat ever, and puts Gibson at the same level as several series-deciding hits in all-time ChampAdded despite it being his only postseason pinch-hitting plate appearance.

Carson Bigbee got some luck and exploited it. One element was getting to face a Walter Johnson sapped by injury, illness, and fatigue. Another was the rain the teams played through that settled a mist over Forbes Field as dusk began to gather. Bigbee’s fly ball to right vanished into that murk, not to reappear until it fell beyond Sam Rice for a game-tying double. Bigbee’s Pirates would take the lead that inning and the Series half an inning later.

And then there is Francisco Cabrera. He had five seasons in the majors, 196 games, and just 374 plate appearances. He came in to pinch-hit 108 times, more than the 100 games he played on defense. By regular-season play, he was all but anonymous, a spare part. He is also, by measures as objective as baseball permits, the most productive and most important postseason pinch-hitter the game has ever known.

His most famous play is virtually a boyhood dream. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded, his Braves down one, the pennant on the line. Brian Hunter’s pop-out left it all up to him, and he (plus a chugging Sid Bream) delivered the flag. A year later, as recounted above, he’d come up huge again, driving home the tying run in a critical spot of the NLCS. That would be the last at-bat he ever took in the majors.

Cabrera holds his place at the top of the WPA and ChampAdded lists despite coming up small in a do-or-die World Series game. His Braves down one to the Blue Jays in Game Six, two outs from elimination, runners on first and second, Bobby Cox looked for lightning to strike twice. Cabrera made good contact but lined out to Candy Maldonado in left. Up next, Otis Nixon pulled Atlanta from the brink, only to hit into Atlanta’s series-ending out in the 11th.

Cabrera’s out produced a costly -0.0795 ChampAdded, not that far from hitting the single play bottom-10 list. It still isn’t enough to douse his two conspicuous moments of glory. Remember the presumption of failure: 2-for-3 in critical moments is better than 1-for-1. That failure brings him closer within reach of his pursuers, but leaves him comfortably in front, the biggest big-game pinch-hitter in baseball.


Does this mean Francisco Cabrera is in some way one of baseball’s greatest players? Well, consider the narrow restrictions of the categories. Any postseason hero who didn’t come in off the bench—Mazeroski, Fisk, Carter, Freese—is excluded from consideration.

Also, the presumed best players will be starting those games, with no opportunity to pinch-hit. Recall Kirk Gibson: he pinch-hit once because in all his other playoff games he was either starting or just too hurt to play. Lou Gehrig never pinch-hit in the postseason, nor Chipper Jones, nor Derek Jeter.

I’m sure that, if I looked at all players for all postseason batting opportunities, there would be a stampede past Cabrera for WPA and ChampAdded. (Have I just given myself a new assignment? I’ll think about that some other time.) Cabrera certainly isn’t the best postseason performer ever, and as there is more to baseball than October, suggesting he’s one of the best players ever is ludicrous tunnel vision.

But in his limited career, Francisco Cabrera was given opportunities to step out of the dugout and turn his team’s flagging fortunes around. And he did it, more so than anyone else who has played the game. Given the fulcrum, he applied his leverage and moved the baseball world.

References and Resources

A writer for The Hardball Times, Shane has been writing about baseball and science fiction since 1997. His stories have been translated into French, Russian and Japanese, and he was nominated for the 2002 Hugo Award.
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Paul G.
8 years ago

What, no Temple Cup games?

Here’s a question for you. All things being equal, would you rather have a Francisco Cabrera like career with his glorious moments of awesome but not much else, or would you rather have a long, good but not great career which no one really remembers. (All things not being equal, I probably would vote for the latter since it pays better.)

Yehoshua Friedman
8 years ago

I was looking for Red Ruffing, a tremendous hitting pitcher often used by the Yankees as a pinch-hitter.