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The man without the position gets a hit
2008-04-29 09:04
by Bob Timmermann

Last night in Anaheim, Rajai Davis of Oakland pulled off the unusual feat of getting a hit while not actually having a position at the time. In BPro's terms, he was a 12.

In the top of the seventh, Oakland DH Frank Thomas led off the inning with a double and Chris Denorfia pinch ran for him. Two batters later, left fielder Jack Cust singled and Davis pinch ran for him.

The inning kept going and going and going as Angels pitcher Chris Bootcheck had a bad night. Eventually, the DH spot came up again and Denorfia batted. Denorfia, because he ran for a DH, was automatically considered to be a DH the first time he came up. But when Davis came up, he was a man without a position. Players aren't credited with a position played in the field until they actually go out into the field.

He wasn't a pinch runner anymore. After all, he wasn't running for anyone at the time. He wasn't a pinch hitter, he wasn't batting in place of anybody. He was just Rajai Davis.

Davis would eventually go into the game as the center fielder as center fielder Ryan Sweeney moved to right and right fielder Emil Brown moved to left.

Davis' situation isn't that unusual and comes up every now and then when a pinch hitter bats early in a big inning or a pinch runner does the same. The last pinch runner to come in and then later have an at bat and get a hit as a "no position" was Jason LaRue of the Reds on July 7, 2006.

2008-04-29 09:33:03
1.   dianagramr
There's a Spinal Tap "it goes to 11 ... no ... 12!" joke in there somewhere.
2008-04-29 09:43:41
2.   Bob Timmermann
I made a Spinal Tap joke last week. Just scroll down further.
2008-04-29 10:15:58
3.   110phil
Is there anything more special when the guy comes out of the game before getting a chance to play the field? Like if Davis was lifted from the game instead of playing center?
2008-04-29 10:23:26
4.   Xeifrank
If he pinch ran for the left fielder wouldn't he be considered a left fielder in the same way that Denorfia was considered a DH for pinch running for Frank Thomas? What am I missing here?
vr, Xei
2008-04-29 10:32:07
5.   Bob Timmermann
You don't get credit for a position in the field unless you actually go out there. You couldn't make Davis the left fielder just because he was in the same spot in the batting order as Cust.

The DH is different because it is locked in place in the batting order.

From Rule 6.10:
A runner may be substituted for the Designated Hitter and the runner assumes the
role of Designated Hitter. A Designated Hitter may not pinch run.

Rule 10.20 (comment):
The official scorer shall credit a player with having played on defense if such player is on the field for at least one pitch or play.

Denorfia was a DH. Davis was not a left fielder when he batted the first time.

2008-04-29 10:36:10
6.   Bob Timmermann
Yes, but those instances are hard to find. You probably can tweek Retrosheet game files to find the instances of that.

It probably happens once or twice a year where the player doesn't stay in the game.

2008-04-29 12:03:35
7.   bobsbrother
I would think it happens frequently when a starting pitcher is used as a pinchrunner. They obviously never stay in the game.
2008-04-29 12:49:29
8.   Bob Timmermann
But they rarely get a chance to come up and bat in the same inning. That's what we're looking for.
2008-04-29 15:29:36
9.   Xeifrank
Ok, so is a pinch-hitter considered a position? From your definition of You don't get credit for a position in the field unless you actually go out there it would not. Which would mean this happens all the time. Perhaps once again, I am missing something. You will probably tell me he is still a pinch hitter the 2nd time he bats in the inning. Which makes sense, but it doesn't meet your above rule about having to actually go out there. vr, Xei
2008-04-29 15:48:42
10.   Bob Timmermann
Rajai Davis was not a pinch hitter when he came up to bat. He was just the guy in the #5 slot. He was not a pinch hitter. He was not a DH. He was no longer a pinch runner. He just was Rajai Davis.
2008-04-29 19:29:26
11.   Eric Stephen
It's instances like these that I'm glad The Griddle exists. We were just talking about Baseball Prospectus's "position 12" last week!

Don't cut off your hands, Bob. Don't you do it!!!

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