|John Vander Wal|
Vander Wal as manager of the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2018
|Outfielder / First baseman|
Born: April 29, 1966|
Grand Rapids, Michigan
|September 6, 1991, for the Montreal Expos|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 2004, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Runs batted in||430|
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.
Vander Wal grew up in Hudsonville, Michigan and graduated from Hudsonville High School in Hudsonville. He attended Western Michigan University. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1987 Major League Baseball Draft.
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.
Vander Wal holds the modern Major League Baseball single-season record for pinch hits, with 28 in 1995 while playing for the Colorado Rockies. 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.