Pete Incaviglia burst on to the Major League landscape in 1986 without playing minor league baseball. Originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1985, Incaviglia was traded to the Texas Rangers during the 1985 season and broke camp with the Rangers in 1986, hitting 30 home runs while simultaneously falling just four strikeouts shy of breaking Bobby Bonds‘ then single-season strikeout record. Inky arguably had a better sophomore season in 1987, hitting 27 homers with nine steals while improving his triple-slash line to .271/.332/.497 while reducing his strikeouts.
The lumbering outfielder would go from defensive liability to league average defender over the next five seasons before seeing a downturn in both offensive and defensive stats in 1991 after being released in late March of 1991 and being picked up by the Detroit Tigers. Inky would sign with the Astros for the 1992 season and would be worth 1.9 wins according to FanGraphs, posting one of his best offensive lines of his career at .266/.319/.430 with 11 homers in 379 plate appearances. In 1992, Inky’s splits foreshadowed later success: Inky hit .282/.344/.494 against lefties for the Astros while splitting time with Luis Gonzalez in left and Eric Anthony in right. Incaviglia would become a free agent following the 1992 season and would sign with the Phillies on December 8, 1992.
1993 would be a career year for Incaviglia, reaching career highs in batting average, slugging, and RBI while hitting 24 homers with a career-low 20.4% strikeout rate. While the idea of someone being “clutch” is debatable, Inky hit .304/.338/.520 with RISP for the 1993 Phillies, hitting a staggering .361/.409/.590 (!) in 66 PA with two outs and RISP. Inky’s career year wouldn’t necessarily translate well into the postseason but Inky had two moments in the playoffs. Inky hit a game-tying homer in Game 1 of the NLCS off Steve Avery and was responsible for driving in the then go-ahead run in Game 6 of the World Series, plating Dave Hollins, the last scoring before Joe Carter ended the series just two innings later.
Incaviglia would come back to Earth in the strike-shortened 1994 season, hitting just .230/.278/.439 before missing the entire 1995 season. Incaviglia would return to baseball in 1996, hitting 16 homers before being dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for starting pitchers Calvin Maduro and Garrett Stephenson. Inky would spend time with the Yankees and have a second stints with the Tigers and Astros in 1998 before spending four seasons in the minors and retiring in 2002. Inky’s stint was short but sweet with the Phils but his career year came at the perfect time and it is unlikely the Phillies would have won the 1993 NL Pennant without him.