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Saint Valentin

Posted by Matt on May 22, 2007

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Despite the fact that he looks like a driver for the local public transit system, Cincinnati Reds platoon catcher and first-chair pinch-hitter, Javier Valentin, came up big in last night’s win over the Washington Nationals. Valentin ripped a two-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to put the Reds up 8-7, a lead that was not relinquished, and capped off the late comeback after quickly going down 0-6 after two innings.

Valentin is sporadically played at the catcher’s position as he is more frequently utilized as the first man off of the bench in pinch-hitting situations, mainly for his ability to switch-hit. And although his career numbers may not show it, Javier has had several moments of heroism in the pinch-hitter’s role over the course of the four seasons he has been with the Cincinnati Reds.

Javier’s pinch-hitting numbers as a Red the past two seasons:

  • 2007: 3 for 12 in 14 appearances with 1-HR, 4-RBIs, and 2-BBs to only 1-SO for an on-base percentage of .357
  • 2006: 12 for 52 in 55 appearances with 4-HRs, 12-RBIs, and 3-BBs to 11-SOs for an on-base percentage of .273

Again, not stellar numbers by any stretch of the imagination but he has had a knack for making it count in the real important moments. Valentin’s 5-pinch-hit home runs over the past two years is good enough for first in all of Major League Baseball. Furthermore, an on-base percentage of .357 this season would rank him 62nd in all of Major League Baseball in that category when comparing his pinch-hitting numbers to the normal hitting statistics of all hitters.

Not enough can be said for obtaining that feat as a pinch-hitter, to come off of the bench completely cold, not having done any activity since batting practice and warm ups four hours ago, and having the expectation of getting a hit with minimal stretching. If you do hit, it comes and goes with little fanfare. If you don’t hit, you’re a let down as you were ONLY in there to GET A HIT. Pinch-hitting is no doubt a tough assignment and it really is a thankless job, never being sure when, or even if, you are going to play on any given night.

There have been better at his job to come before him and there will be better pinch-hitters in the future but I was thankful to see Valentin out there last night, driving a clutch home run to win the game and for a moment, it was exciting to be a Reds fan as they charged back last night with the help of Javier Valentin.

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