John Vander Wal

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John Vander Wal
John Vander Wal, Jose Azocar (41852824395) (cropped).jpg
Vander Wal as manager of the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2018
Outfielder / First baseman
Born: (1966-04-29) April 29, 1966 (age 52)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 6, 1991, for the Montreal Expos
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 2004, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Batting average.261
Home runs97
Runs batted in430

John Henry Vander Wal (born April 29, 1966) is a former American Major League Baseball left-handed hitter who played outfield and first base for eight different teams over 14 seasons. He is now a coach for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Early life[edit]

Vander Wal grew up in Hudsonville, Michigan and graduated from Hudsonville High School in Hudsonville. He attended Western Michigan University.[1] He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1987 Major League Baseball Draft.[2]

Major league career[edit]

Vander Wal made his major league debut with the Expos on September 6, 1991, and finished his first season with 13 hits in 61 at-bats for a .213 batting average.

Vander Wal played two more seasons in Montreal before moving on to the Colorado Rockies in 1994, where he would spend all of four seasons and part of another, although he never recorded more than 151 at-bats or appeared in 105 games in any of those seasons. On August 31, 1998, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for a PTBNL. He went on to appear in the World Series with the Padres, recording two hits in five at-bats.

Vander Wal spent 1999 in San Diego before moving on to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 2000 trade that brought Al Martin to the Padres. While playing for the Pirates, he posted his best season, appearing in 134 games, and batting .299 with 24 home runs and 94 RBI. In 2001, Vander Wal was traded to the San Francisco Giants, who later traded him to the New York Yankees for Jay Witasick. Vander Wal was a part-time performer for the Yankees in 2002, before moving on to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003, and the Cincinnati Reds in 2004, where he recorded just 6 hits in 51 at-bats for a .118 average.

Vander Wal played 14 seasons in the major leagues. 13 of these seasons were with National League clubs, where the pinch-hitter is a much more widely used tactic in the absence of the designated hitter.

On February 10, 2009, Vander Wal was named a scout for the San Diego Padres[3] and held that position until 2016.[4]


Vander Wal holds the modern Major League Baseball single-season record for pinch hits, with 28 in 1995 while playing for the Colorado Rockies.[5] In 2017, Ichiro Suzuki almost equaled Vander Wal's record, but finished with 27 pinch-hits. In his career, Vander Wal contributed 129 pinch hits, which is one of the highest totals of the modern era, behind Lenny Harris' 212.

Vander Wal was inducted into the Western Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.


  1. ^ "John Vander Wal Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "John Vander Wal". Basketball-Reference.Com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  3. ^ "Club hires John Vander Wal as professional scout". 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  4. ^ "Hinch making impact on Padres' pro scouting". San Diego Padres. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "In A Pinch". New York Times. September 17, 2006. p. Sports p. 2.

External links[edit]