This article was featured on Phillies Nation as part of the 2009 Player Reviews.
When Matt Stairs sent Jonathan Broxton's pitch "deep into the night" during the 2008 National League Championship Series, he became a hero in Philadelphia. When Stairs smashed a game winning home run off Huston Street on April 12, there was no doubt that he was the go-to guy for a pinch hit situation. However, major league pitchers learned something: do not throw a fastball to Matt Stairs.
And that was the story for 2009. Stairs rarely saw a fastball that he could drive. But if he got one, it left the yard for good.
It may be thought that most of his home runs were meaningless. Afterall, he only had five. There was a ninth inning home run against the Pirates that made it 7-4. There was a ninth inning grand slam against the Nationals which made it 8-6. He also broke up Dave Bush's no-hitter in the eighth inning. If anything, these were far from meaningless; it gave the Phillies hope and potentially started a rally.
The home runs and hits just didn't come as often as he would have liked. Stairs infamously went "0-for-the-summer," going hit-less for 30 straight at-bats.
Stairs found another way to get the job done: he drew walks. Stairs' on-base percentage was .061 points higher than Jimmy Rollins'. Consider the fact that Stairs' batting average was also 0.56 points lower than Rollins.'
Stairs may not have gotten the clutch hit, but he drew key walks. Many of the walks he drew started big innings for the Phillies. A prime example is game four of the NLCS. With one out in the ninth inning, Stairs drew a pinch hit walk against Broxton. The walk started the rally, and the rest is history.
Stairs finished the year with 129 at-bats, a .194 average, .357 on-base percentage, 5 HR, 17 RBI, and a .735 OPS.