place hitter (1888)

“Of the Haverly team Powers , the Captain, must be ranked at the top. He is a ‘place’ hitter, if there be such a thing in baseball as ‘place hitting,’ that is dropping the ball safe almost at will.” “Food for the Pitcher: How the Best Batsmen Are Frequently Fooled.” San Francisco Examiner, May 27, 1888, p9

Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
“The place hitter is the chap who can take a ball which ordinarily he would hit to right, and hit it to left, or vice versa.” (Babe Ruth, Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball, 1928; David Shulman).