December 3, 1956: The Cincinnati Redlegs select Jerry Lynch from the Pittsburgh Pirates through the Rule 5 draft. Lynch will become one of the great pinch hitters in major league history.
The Redlegs were the second team to have selected Lynch through the Rule 5 draft process. Lynch had been signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees and batted .333 with a .591 SLP with 33 doubles, 22 triples, and 21 home runs for Class B Norfolk in the Piedmont League. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft and Lynch was given a a semi-regular role in left field. Lynch batted .239 in his rookie season with eight homers in 98 games and followed up with a .284 season in 1955. Made available for the Rule 5 draft following the 1956 season, Lynch was drafted by the Reds and became a fixture on the Reds roster for the next seven seasons.
Lynch wasn’t the best fielder with negative defensive Wins Above Replacement ratings in every season of his career (except for his last season when he played four games in the field). Of the 1184 major league games he played, he played 710 of them in the field (typically left field) and was a pinch hitter in the others. Lynch is 10th on the all-time list in pinch hits with 116 and has the third most pinch home runs all-time with 18. Five of those pinch home runs came in the Reds 1961 World Series team when he placed 22nd in MVP voting despite having only 210 plate appearances. During that season, Lynch hit .315 with a .407 OBP, a .624 SLP, 13 doubles, 13 homers, and 50 rbi. As a pinch hitter, Lynch hit .404 as a substitute with five homers, 25 rbi, and a 1.376 OPS in 59 plate appearances.
About pinch hitting, Lynch once said:
“The good pinch-hitter is the guy who can relax enough to get the pitch he can hit. You almost always do get one pitch to hit every time you bat. So you have to have the patience to wait. And then you’ve got to be able to handle the pitch when you get it.”
Lynch played 13 major league seasons, Lynch hit .277 with 115 homers and a .792 OPS (110 OPS+). He played seven seasons with the Reds, batting .289 with 70 home runs and a .832 OPS (116 OPS+).