It seems that every day a player comes off the bench with runners in scoring position for a game-winning hit. Are these walkoffs in baseball becoming more statistically common? They are usually followed by an energy drink shower or celebratory pie in the face.

Looking at numbers for the current season. The pinch hitter has always been part of the game but now we see offensive substitutions in almost every game that is tied or goes into extra innings. It could be a reaction to relievers being chosen out of the bullpen to counter expected lineups.

  • What's your time frame on this? When do you think they started to trend upwards?
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 12:51
  • As mentioned above, viewing numbers for the current season. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 1:00
  • Pinch hitters are put in because they match up with the current pitcher well. But historically guys pinch hitting hit below the league average. You might notice pinch hitters hitting bigger hits because a manager often wouldn't use a pinch hitter when the situation doesn't matter.
    – Coach-D
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 7:27

2 Answers 2


This query pulls up approximately the desired specifics - Walk-off win, RBI>=1, PA=1, PH position, finished game, didn't play any other position than PH. That's almost always going to be the exact specifics - occasionally you might have a PH in the final inning with a non-winning RBI of course, but usually it's not, and the distribution for that particular should be approximately consistent.

I'm going to just list what year is on every 250 rows: 2014: 0 2003: 250 1992: 500 1983: 750 1976: 1000 1968: 1250 1958: 1500

So 11,11,9,7,8,10 years between each 250 rows. Sounds like it's slightly less common nowadays, if anything, assuming this query is correct; you'd have to be a Baseball Reference PI subscriber probably to verify this with any reasonable degree of certainty. Overall this is a pretty reasonably random distribution.


I don't exactly when such things became more common, but I have the sense that they are more common than in the 1970s, when I was growing up.

That's because baseball management has become more "scientific" in the past 40 years, with the monitoring of things like pitch counts for pitchers, innings counts for fielders, left-right and right-left batter-pitcher match-ups, and even "splits" of individual batters versus individual pitchers.

  • Some numbers to prop this up would be amazing.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 18:07
  • @waxeagle: Unfortunately, I don't have numbers going back 40 years. So I have to argue, "Today's management is more scientific, and IF your observation (and my recollection) is correct, this would be the reason why."
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 18:09

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