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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Stavi’s hot pinch-hit home run pace

Nick Stavinoha is only one short of tying for the most pinch-hit home runs in a season by a Cardinal since Tony La Russa became manager in 1996.

Nick Stavinoha (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Perhaps lost in the excitement of David Freese’s bases-clearing double and Jaime Garcia’s strong mound outing Monday night in Philadelphia was the pinch-hit home run by Nick Stavinoha that broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh and put the Cardinals ahead for good.

The shot was Stavinoha’s second pinch-hit home run of the season and the team’s, as well. Both of Stavi’s big flies this season put the Cardinals in the lead. His first pinch-hit home run was last July 17.

With the assistance of Tom Orf, who pulled the specifics of every Cardinals pinch-hit home run since 1952, I have summarized the information below for the Tony La Russa era (1996-current).

The table shows the number of Cardinals pinch-hit home runs each season along with the team leader and how many he hit. With two already through the Cardinals first 27 games, Stavinoha needs just one more during the final 135 contests to tie for the most such hits in any one year during La Russa’s managerial stint. Ryan Ludwick (2007), Marlon Anderson (2004) and Eduardo Perez (2002) each had three in one season.

Cardinals pinch-hit home runs, season, 1996-present

Year Team Leader #
2010 2 Nick Stavinoha 2
2009 8 Rick Ankiel 2
2008 6 Joe Mather 2
2007 5 Ryan Ludwick 3
2006 7 Jim Edmonds 2
Chris Duncan 2
John Rodriguez 2
2005 6 Six players 1
2004 6 Marlon Anderson 3
2003 2 J.D. Drew 2
2002 7 Eduardo Perez 3
2001 6 Craig Paquette 2
2000 9 Thomas Howard 2
Keith McDonald 2
1999 3 Three players 1
1998 10 Tom Lampkin 2
John Mabry 2
Ron Gant 2
1997 3 Delino DeShields 2
1996 1 Ron Gant 1
total 81

Since 1952, the most pinch-hit home runs by a Cardinal in one season is four, accomplished in each of the years of 1959-61. George Crowe did it the first two seasons and Carl Sawatski followed in 1961. At his current pace, Stavinoha could easily surpass them this summer.

During the La Russa years, Chris Duncan had the most of the 81 Cardinals pinch-hit homers with six. Ludwick has four, with eight others having three, including the newest name on the list, Stavinoha.

Cardinals pinch-hit home runs, player total, 1996-present

PH HRs
Chris Duncan 6
Ryan Ludwick 4
Delino DeShields 3
Eduardo Perez 3
John Mabry 3
Marlon Anderson 3
Rick Ankiel 3
Ron Gant 3
Thomas Howard 3
Nick Stavinoha 3

Oddly, of the 81 long balls, only one was a walkoff. That was hit by Willie McGee against Montreal at Busch Stadium II on April 8, 1997.

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