division round wrap up and LCS preview
The Division Round of the American League playoffs wrapped up both series yesterday, but no one got hit by a pitch in either of the ALDS Game 4s. There have been only 13 HBPs in the history of ALDS games 4 (21 games in all). The ALDS appears to have declining plunk numbers as the series moves along - batters have been hit an average of 0.9 times per game in ALDS Game 1, 0.87 times per game in Game 2, 0.67 in game 3, and 0.62 HBPs per game have been recorded in ALDS game 4. There's a bit of an upswing in games five, with 7 hbps in 10 game fives, but that's a very small group. Interestingly, the NLDS works in the opposite direction - game 1 plunk rates are 0.57 per game in NLDS Game 1 history, going up to 0.63 in game 2, 0.67 in game 3, and 0.94 in game 4. But, no batter has ever been hit by a pitch in game 5 of an NLDS. Overall, batters have been hit about 21% more often per game in the ALDS than in the NLDS.
In the American League Championship Series, if you're hoping to see someone heroically standing in the way of a pitch to gain a valuable base runner for his team, your best bet is to watch Game 5. More batters have been hit in game 5 of the ALCS than any other game, even though there have only been 24 game fives in the 38 American League Championships played so far. 26 batters have been hit in those games.
Here's the HBP rates per game in the various games of the American League and National League Championships:
As you can see, overall, batters get hit about 19.8% more often per game in odd numbered games of the series than in even numbered games.
As for this years matchups, the Dodgers and Phillies hit each other 11 times during the regular season, which is exactly as many times as last year's NL finalists Arizona and Colorado hit each other in the 2007 regular season. Prior to that, no NLCS featured teams that had hit each other with that many pitches in the regular season. 11 plunks is also the largest 2008 total among National League teams that aren't divisional opponents.
In the ALCS, the Rays and Red Sox plunked each other 25 times, which was 2nd only to the Indians and Tigers among 2008's most plunk-filled regular season matchups. The last time the ALCS opponents hit each other that many times was the 2004 Yankees-Red Sox series. Those two teams hit each other 33 times that season, and tied the ALCS record by hitting each other 8 times. The '87 ALCS, and the 1919 and 2005 World Series also had 8 batters hit by a pitch, and the 1909 World Series is the only post season series with more - they had 10, but Hughie Jennings was managing one of those teams. Also, if you like Game 7s, their have only been 5 game 7s in ALCS history, but 4 of them involved the Red Sox.
Also, keep in mind that ALCS games that take place on even numbered days of the month feature batters getting hit 0.62 times per game, while they only get hit 0.54 times per game on odd numbered game - about 13.4% less often. In the NLCS though, batters get hit 25% more often per game on odd numbered days than on evens. 0.53 HBPs occur per NLCS game on odd numbered days, but only 0.42 on even numbered days. I don't know what good that will do you, but keep it in mind anyway. It could be like one of those key pieces of useless information that shows up on the 7th page of a book as a passing detail but turns out to be the key to the whole mystery that the hero randomly remembers at the end of the book even though several years have passed and he had no reasonable need to ever remember that bit of trivia. Years from now, when you read this again, you'll catch on to the foreshadowing.