Rangers' pinch-hitting prowess on the rise

Rangers' pinch-hitting prowess on the rise

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' pinch-hitting is on the upswing from where it has been during the first six years Ron Washington has been the manager.

After going 1-for-3 on Saturday night, Rangers pinch-hitters were batting .286 on the season, the second-highest in the American League. Their .368 on-base percentage was the highest. That's a significant improvement from 2012 when Rangers pinch-hitters had a .173 batting average, the second lowest in the league, and a .277 on-base percentage.

"Better bench, more experience and they're getting opportunities," Washington said. "In the past we didn't have too many guys to pinch-hit for in our lineup. They were the best we had. We haven't had this bench since we've been here. Nobody is complaining about playing time, so it helps to move people around and give everybody a chance."

The Rangers have improved considerably since 2009 when their pinch-hitters had a .119 batting average, the sixth-lowest in the AL for one team since 1974. Texas pinch-hitters had a combined batting average of .182 from 2009-12, the lowest in the AL in that stretch.

Craig Gentry has given the Rangers the biggest boost off the bench. He is 5-for-14 with five walks as a pinch-hitter, a .357 batting average that is the third-highest in the league among those with at least 10 at-bats in the role. His .526 on-base percentage is second.

"He's done a great job of pinch-hitting," Washington said. "He has an idea of when he's coming into a ballgame so he's mentally ready."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.