Tuesday, September 16, 2008


You've probably noticed that the Tampa Bay Rays are having their best season ever. Many people have guessed that this has something to do with changing their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays (which I heard was in honor of Billy Ray Cyrus), or the controversial move to demand all their players either be named Ray or add Ray to their existing names. But the real key to this year's campaign is that they're having their best season ever in terms of plunk plus/minus. They've been hit 58 times so far, and only thrown 42 at opposing batters, for a plus 16. They've only had one other season in which they've been plunked more times than they plunked, and the franchise average for their first 10 years is -23. Those among you who are quick on the math will immediately know that that means they've hit their opponents 230 more times than they've been hit, prior to 2008.

YearHBPopp HBPplus/minusRecord

On the batting side, they've been hit 58 times this season, led by Carlos Ray Pena's 11, and Jason Ray Bartlett and Jonny Ray Gomes with 7 each. Evan Longoraya has chipped in with 5, and the Rays have gotten 4 plunks each from Cliff Ray Floyd, Willy Ray Aybar, and Akinoray Iwamuray. This is already there 3rd highest plunk total in franchise history, but it will be a stretch for them to break the single season record. But the more important side of things is the pitching - they've only hit 42 batters this season, which ranks them 25th in the league. Previously their lowest league rank in hitting batters was 11th - and they've led the majors 5 times in the past 10 years.

From 1998 to 2007, the (Devil) Rays had 143 wins and 164 losses (.466) in game when they got hit by more pitches than the other team did. That's still pretty awful, but way better than their 645-972 (.399) overall record, and their 154-313 (.330) record when they handed out more plunks than they received. This season, they're 31-17 (.646) when they get plunked at least once in a game, and they're 25-13 (.658) when they get hit more than their opponent. Clearly the power of positive plunking can't be overestimated.



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