Monday, August 18, 2008

Daniel Cabrera and season pitching records

It's often been said around baseball that without pitchers nobody would get hit by pitches. Daniel Cabrera of the Orioles is one such pitcher. He's hit 17 batters so far this season, leading the Major Leagues. Showing a tremendous sense of balance, he's hit 9 right handed batters and 8 lefties. He has also plunked an impressive 6 members of the American League All-Star Team, including the entire starting infield. He's been relatively efficient in hitting batters, with opposing batters seeing just 3.1 pitches when they get hit. That's just a little bit below the league average. And, he's still the only pitcher in the majors who has hit a batter on every day of the week this season. According to MLB Gameday's pitch f/x data, Cabrera's average start and end speeds on the pitches with which he hit's batters are the fastest in the majors, among pitchers who have hit at least 10 batters. (Although data is only available for 13 of his 17 plunks). He hits lefties slightly harder than right handers, with plunks to lefties averaging 93.5 mph leaving his hand, and slowing to 85 mph at impact. Pitches Cabrera threw to hit right-handers have averaged 92.5 mph to start, and hitting at about 84.4 mph. Those plunks to right handers may be a bit slower, but they also tend to be higher - averaging 4'6" off the ground, while lefties have been plunked down low by Cabrera - about 2'7" off the ground. (The league wide average height of plunks thrown by right handed pitcher to right handed batters is about 3'8", and 2'4" when righties hit lefty batters).

If Cabrera can hit 4 more batters, he'll break the Orioles single season franchise record. That record is 20, by Barney Pelty, who set the mark for the 1904 St. Louis Browns, which moved to Baltimore and took up the Orioles name in 1954. At just 3 hit batters behind his franchise record, Daniel Cabrera is the closest of any pitcher this year to breaking such a mark. The only other real contenders are Roy Halladay, who could break Chris Carpenter's 2001 Blue Jays record of 16, and Oliver Perez who is similarly 5 plunks from tying the Mets record, set by Pedro Astacio in 2002. Back in July, Micah Owings was on pace to challenge Randy Johnson's single season record with the Diamondbacks, but he has since been sent to the minors, and is rumored to be the player to be named later in the Adam Dunn deal, which would send him to the Reds. Owings could possibly still be brought back up to the majors before the end of the year, and hit 7 more batters to break Johnson's record, but you have to wonder if Randy is pulling some GM strings to protect that record.

Here's the full list of 2008 team leaders in hitting batters, along with the single season franchise records:
Team2008 LeaderHit battersFranchise Record
Daniel Cabrera1720 by Barney Pelty in 1904
Micah Owings1218 by Randy Johnson in 2001
Oliver Perez1116 by Pedro Astacio in 2002
Blue Jays
Roy Halladay1116 by Chris Carpenter in 2001
White Sox
Gavin Floyd816 by Clark Griffith in 1902,
and Jim Scott in 1909
Brian Bannister613 by Jim Colborn in 1977,
Mike Boddicker in 1991,
and Zack Greinke in 2005
Randy Wolf816 by Matt Clement in 2000
Roy Oswalt716 by Jack Billingham in 1971,
and Darryl Kile in 1996
James Shields1020 by Victor Zambrano in 2003
Vicente Padilla919 by Charlie Hough in 1987
Red Sox
Tim Wakefield920 by Howard Ehmke in 1923,
and Bronson Arroyo in 2004
Jorge De La Rosa,
Ubaldo Jimenez
717 by Pedro Astacio in 1998
Dave Bush920 by Jamey Wright in 2001
Jarrod Washburn718 by Randy Johnson in 1992
Justin Verlander1023 by Howard Ehmke in 1922
Odalis Perez,
John Lannan
618 by Ramon Ortiz in 2006
Nick Blackburn720 by Bill Carrick in 1901,
Case Patten in 1904,
and Walter Johnson in 1923
John Lackey721 by Tom Murphy in 1969
Aaron Laffey924 by Otto Hess in 1906
PhilliesKyle Kendrick1228 by JackTaylor in 1897
Ricky Nolasco,
Mark Hendrickson
519 by DontrelleWillis in 2006
CubsJason Marquis,
Kerry Wood
724 by NixeyCallahan in 1899
Braden Looper827 by WillieSudhoff in 1898
Mike Mussina,
Andy Pettitte
626 by JackWarhop in 1909
PiratesPaul Maholm727 by PinkHawley in 1897
Dana Eveland932 by ChickFraser in 1901
Edinson Volquez1135 by WillWhite in 1884
Jeff Bennett630 by Vic Willis in 1898 and 1899
Keiichi Yabu637 by Ed Doheny in 1899
Chad Billingsley641 by Joe McGinnity in 1900

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