Bottom Of The 9th Pinch Hitter: Who Do You Choose?


Imagine that, in 2015, the Cards are playing a game. Let’s just say it’s the Cubs. Well they’ve played a close game, but are trailing the Cubs in the 9th inning by a run. A rally starts, but they also get two outs in the process. Now they have the bases loaded with two outs, with the pitcher due up.

Who do you use to pinch hit?

Sitting next to each other on the bench are two players: Ty Kelly and Mark Reynolds.

Mister Swing At Nothing and Mister Swing At Everything.

Kelly has a dash of power, he hit 15 home runs in Tacoma last year, but nothing like Reynolds has.

Reynolds has some patience, but his OBP the past two years has been .306 and .287 since his batting average has been so low. Kelly, by contrast, had high OBP’s in his last two years in the minors: .417 in 2013 and .381 in 2014.

Now Kelly isn’t exactly Mister Swing At Nothing, as his strikeout totals have been relatively high in the minors as well. He had 96 last year in 549 Plate Appearances to go with his 85 walks. Part of that could be pressure from the parent teams (he started out with Baltimore before moving to Seattle) pressuring him to swing more as he moved up the ladder, and part of it could be struggles versus more advanced pitchers. We’ll see what happens when he’s on the big league team. I have a hunch he could be another Matt Carpenter, but that’s just me dreaming.

Anyways, back to the situation: Who would you choose? I would choose Kelly, but given that this is the kind of situation Reynolds was acquired for, I have a hunch many (and Mike Matheny) would choose Reynolds, who would then probably proceed to strike out. I doubt anybody would second guess that decision though. If Mike used Kelly though, I’m sure some people would mutter “why didn’t he use Reynolds???” even if Kelly seems to be the smarter choice.

As always, thanks for reading.