The Mets have been graced with some of the best pinch hitters in baseball history. Mets pinch hitters hold several of the all-time records. While some only played for them a year or two, others came off the bench to pinch-hit for multiple seasons.
In 1974, 29-year-old Ed Kranepool split his playing time between first base, left field, and pinch-hitting off the bench. Kranepool hit .48571 as a pinch hitter that year, the highest batting average in a season by a pinch hitter (minimum 30 at-bats).
At age 37, Rusty Staub already had a successful 18-year career as a starting player before his return to the Mets in 1981. Staub used his keen batting eye and trademark choked-up grip in key at-bats late in the game. From 1981 through 1985, Rusty would pinch hit 316 times for the Mets. He was the best pinch-hitting specialist in the 1980s.
Staub’s pinch-hit streak hits 8
Between June 11 – 26 of 1983, the 39-year-old Rusty Staub had 8 straight pinch hits. On June 26th his one-out single to right field in the ninth inning off of the Phillies’ Ron Reed tied the major league record for most consecutive pinch hits in a season. The appropriately named Dave Philley also did it for Philadelphia in 1958.
During the stretch of games, Staub played first base in one game, right field in two games, and left field in another. But in all of his pinch-hitting appearances, he got a hit. Except for his next to last appearance, when he was hit by a pitch. Since getting hit by a pitch does not count as an official at-bat, the streak continued. During the streak, Staub slashed .571/.609/.810.
“Anybody who gets eight straight pinch-hits has got to be happy. But, like I’ve said before during this streak, it isn’t something that’s going to make me or break me. I’ve just gone up there, been aggressive, and tried to be as good a hitter as I can possibly be.”Rusty Staub to the Daily News
Related: Staub’s incredible ’73 NLCS catches.
Coming over to the Mets for the second time during the 2000 season, Lenny Harris was already a pinch hitter deluxe. The next year with the team, the 36-year-old would set the all-time record for most pinch hits in a career. On Oct. 7, 2001, Harris broke Manny Mota’s all-time record with his 151st pinch-hit. Lenny would go on to play 4 more years, ending with 212 career pinch hits. He also has most pinch-hit at-bats with 804.
Honorable mentions go out to Matt Franco, who set the record for most pinch-hit walks in a season with 20 in 1999. Also to Mike Jacobs, who on August 21, 2005, had the distinction of hitting a pinch-hit home run in his first-ever major league at-bat.