What is a Pinch Runner in Baseball and Softball?

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In baseball and softball, a pinch runner is a player who replaces a runner already on base. Typically, pinch runners are chosen for their speed, which can distract the pitcher and increase the chances of stealing a base. Teams may use a pinch runner late in the game to add more speed to the basepaths, especially when down by a run or two.

When a player is substituted for a pinch runner, they are out of the game. MLB teams tend to use pinch runners later in the game to give the starter more plate appearances. The pinch runner who replaces a player on the field takes over their defensive position, but may be substituted out if they cannot play a certain position.

A pinch runner is different from a pinch hitter, who comes off the bench to hit for a player. MLB teams typically carry 1-2 players whose skillset favors running.

In the National League, teams previously used the double switch to limit a pitcher from hitting in the next inning. However, with the designated hitter rule in effect as of 2022, National League teams no longer have their pitcher bat.

According to official baseball rules, pinch running alone does not extend a consecutive game streak for a player. Some famous pinch runner moments in baseball include Dave Roberts’ steal in the 2004 ALCS, which helped the Boston Red Sox win the game and eventually the World Series.

Overall, pinch running is a critical part of baseball and softball games, allowing teams to increase their scoring chances and potentially win the game.