Baseball Pinch Hitter Rules

Baseball Pinch Hitter Rules

Pinch hitting is a valuable tactic used by MLB managers in big moments, however there are very specific rules surrounding how to properly use a pinch hitter. Read on to learn about pinch hitting and what rules are in place to regulate their use.


What Exactly is a Pinch Hitter?

In Major League Baseball, a pinch hitter is a baseball player who serves as a substitute batter for another baseball player. A pinch hitter is only ever active in a game when the batter whose place the pinch hitter is taking is up to bat. A pinch hitter is not a game until they are announced into the game, typically over the jumbotron. After the pinch hitter is announced into the game, the original batter is now out of the game for good.

Pinch Hitting Statistics

Most teams have four or five players on a bench to use as pinch hitters, and the typical abbreviation used for pinch hitter is “PH.” Separate statistics are kept for players assuming the pinch hitter position, however a batter’s at bats will still count towards their overall statistics as well.

A “pinch hit” is when the pinch hitter successfully hits the ball. A “pinch hit home run” is when a pinch hitter hits a home run.

Role On The Field

Oftentimes, the most common thing pinch hitters will do is simply play the defensive position of the baseball player they replaced. However, the pinch hitter has two other options. The pinch hitter could be replaced by a defensive substitute, which is the second most likely option. Alternatively, a pinch hitter can take a different defensive position on the field, but this move requires other players to be shuffled around with substitutions or defensive changes.

Skills And Usage

Pinch hitters are typically inserted into the game to replace weaker batters at home plate. However, some managers will request a pinch hitter to hit a sacrifice bunt to ensure another player’s success. A skill that is seen as desirable amongst pinch hitters is speed, and some pinch hitters are known for their stride and ability to steal bases. This particular trait is seen amongst pinch runners as well, but ultimately, pinch hitters need to be strong batters and fast enough to avoid getting tagged.

Sometimes, a pinch hitter will be replaced by another pinch hitter before the original pinch hitter has completed their batting attempt. For example, if the opposing team’s manager changes the pitcher, the pinch hitter may be substituted by another pinch hitter in response. This is a very rare occurrence, but is technically allowed.

Pinch Hitter VS Pinch Runner Differences

A pinch hitter steps up to bat in lieu of the original player, but a pinch runner does not actually bat. Pinch runners step in for players after they successfully reach first base to take over the physical running of the bases for the original batter. Unlike pinch hitters, pinch runners do not need to be strong batters. Pinch runners basically just need to be fast, and potentially strong base stealers as well.

FAQ

What is PH in baseball?

In baseball, “PH” stands for pinch hitter or pinch hit in baseball. Whenever the abbreviation “PH” is used in an article, box score, or scoreboard in baseball, it means that one player was substituted to hit for another player.

What is the difference between a designated hitter and pinch hitter in baseball?

While their names can be a bit confusing, designated hitters and pinch hitters play two different roles in a game of baseball. Pinch hitters are used as substitutes at the plate in the middle of a game, whereas designated hitters are part of the starting lineup and hit in place of pitchers throughout the game. 

How many pinch hitters can managers use in a game?

Technically speaking, there is no specific limit on the number of pinch hitters a team can use in any given game. That being said, once a player is pinch hit for, they cannot return to the game. So, eventually, roster spot limitations will prevent a manager from continuing to use pinch hitters.