Sunday, August 31, 2008

999 for the Rockies

Chase Headley got hit by a pitch yesterday, his 5th of the season for the Padres and the 27th this season by a batter named Chase, but more importantly it was the 999th plunk thrown by the Colorado Rockies in franchise history. Just one more for the Rockies to throw their 1000th in franchise history.

In other "guys named Chase" news, Chase Utley got hit for the 22nd time this season, leaving him 3 short of tying the Phillies single season record, which he already set last season (25).

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

88 Indians hit by pitches

The Cleveland Indians are on a roll, of late, and not just because they've won 10 consecutive games. They've been hit by 21 pitches in August, which brings their total to 88 for the season. That leaves them just 12 plunks away from being the first American League team to get hit 100 times in a season, and they'd be just the 2nd post-1900 major league team to reach triple digits in plunks. And they've got the entire month of September - another 30 games - still to play.

Prior to this week, the most any modern team had been hit before the beginning of September was 82 times, by the 2004 Pirates. They finished that season with 95 HBPs, which is the 21st century record. That team featured Craig Wilson getting hit 30 times, and Jason Kendall adding another 19. The 1997 Houston Astros, who are currently the only post-1900 team to get hit by 100 pitches, were led by Craig Biggio's 34 HBPs. But at the 132 game mark, that team only had 68 HBPs - so the Indians are 20 plunks ahead of the pace set by a team that got hit 100 times. However, the Indians probably aren't going to get hit 32 times in their final 30 games the way that Astros team did.

Perhaps most impressively, the Indians have a commanding lead for the most plunked team in the league this season. They're 24 HBPs ahead of the 2nd place Yankees, despite the Yankees enormous payroll, and their 3 veteran batters with over 130 career hbps. The last time a team finished 24 plunks ahead of the next most battered team was 1978 when Don Baylor's California Angels got hit a league leading 67 times, while the a trio of teams tied for 2nd at 42. If the Yankees are eliminated from playoff contention soon and have nothing left to get hit for, Cleveland could expand their lead and be the first team since 1898 to win the Plunk Pennant by 30+ HBPs.

Now for the bad news - September is the 9th month of the year, and so far this season, Cleveland has averaged 22 HBPs in even numbered months, and only 11 plunks in odd numbered month. They got hit 23 times in April, 12 in May, 22 times in June, 10 in July and 21 so far in September. So, unless they can break that trend in odd-numbered September, their three remaining August games could be the key to the Indians hopes of reaching 100 HBPs. If they don't get hit this weekend, and only meet their odd-numbered-month average in September, they would only reach 99.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

milestone shyness

Any day now, the Colorado Rockies are going to throw their 1000th plunk in franchise history. However, now that they're so close to the historic milestone, they've suddenly decided on a unilateral cease fire, and they're stuck at 998. The Rockies are in the midst of their 7th slowest month ever, in terms of handing on HBPs per batter faced. They've hit just 5 batters this August. They've only had 3 full months in franchise history in which they hit fewer than 5 batters - two were in 1993, their first year in existence, and one was September of 2001 when they might have been feeling particularly pacifistic. They haven't hit anyone since August 15th, and only the White Sox have gone longer without hitting an opposing batter.

If the Rockies can hold out another 7 years without hitting two more batters, they can avoid becoming the quickest expansion franchise to hit 1,000 batters, and probably the quickest ever. Previously, the quickest 1000 plunks among the post-1960 expansion teams was thrown by the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners hit their 1000th opponents on July 22, 1999 (John Jaha), in their 23rd season in existence, but the Rockies will make it in just 16 seasons - again, assuming they can't make it the rest of the year without hitting 2 batters. Even without Craig Biggio's help (34 hbps vs the Rockies), they would have probably done it in 17 seasons. Of the senior citizen franchises, the quickest was the Detroit Tigers, who reached 1000 plunks thrown in 1919 - their 19th season. It's probably no coincidence that all-time HBP king Hughie Jennings managed the Tigers from 1907 to 1920. HBP stats for pitchers weren't kept very accurately back then, but they're probably close enough to go with 1919 as the season the Tigers reached 1000. It's a little more difficult with the NL teams that existed prior to HBPs being tracked at all, but particularly given the shorter schedules of the 19th century seasons, we can be pretty sure that the Rockies will be the first franchise to hit 1000 batters in their first 16 seasons.


The Rockies aren't the only ones having trouble getting over an HBP hump though. The Astros are creeping slowly toward 2,000 HBPs collected by it's batters in franchise history - but they've only been hit 39 times this year, and they're stuck at 1,994 at the moment. They've actually picked up the pace a little, getting hit 13 times so far this month, after only 10 in June and July combined.
Kevin Kouzmanoff is one plunk away from tying the Padres single season HBP record, but he's been one plunk away from tying the Padres single season record since July 8th. He has the longest active plunk drought of any player with 10 or more HBPs this season by 15 days. Jason Kendall, who's supposed to be chasing the all time HBP record, has the second longest drought among those with double digit plunks, having been left un-plunked since July 23rd. He's stuck at 229 HBPs, which is one short of tying Dan McGann for 6th place on the all time list.

Maybe they've all been waiting for the right time though. Starting Friday, the Rockies will be playing the Padres, so maybe the Rockies could cross the 1000 plunk mark by hitting Kouzmanoff twice, for the Padres record. Or, if the Rockies can hold out another week, and the Astros can make up some ground by September 5th, they could coordinate the Astros 2000th batter hit with the Rockies 1000th plunk thrown.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How many third basemen can Johnny Cueto plunk?

You probably already know that Johnny Cueto of the Reds is this year's rookie leader in hitting batters, with 11, but what you probably didn't know is that 6 of those batters he hit were third basemen. Nobody else in the league has hit 6 batters at the same position, and Cueto has hit 6 different third basemen - so it's not like he's just hitting Aramis Ramirez over and over. He only hit him once, along with Mark Derosa, Casey Blake, Ty Wigginton, Pete Orr, and Andy LaRoche. Only 4 pitchers in the last 20 years have hit 6 different batters at the same position in a single season, so if Cueto can find one more to plunk, he'd be in uncharted territory. (Kerry Wood hit 6 right fielders in 2003, Chan Ho Park hit 6 left fielders in 2001, Brian Bohanon hit 6 first basemen in 2000, and Jamey Wright hit 6 third basemen in 1999 - so this seems to only happen to corner fielders).

Cueto is also the only player in the league this year who has hit over ten batters and threw half of his plunks at batters who played one position. Gavin Floyd of the White Sox has hit 8 total batters, and 5 of them were center fielders, so that's a 62.5% there. Roy Oswalt has spent 4 of his 7 plunks on catchers this season, and Jamie Moyer has hit 6 batters, and 4 of them were right fielders.

Monday, August 25, 2008

common names

Obviously, the idea of a fantasy baseball league where the only players chosen were pitchers and the only stats tracked were hit batters while facing the New York Yankees is completely insane, and I don't know anyone who would participate in such a league, much less run one... but... if you were in such a league, you'd be feeling pretty lucky right now if you drafted Daniel Cabrera. Daniel Cabrera has hit 5 Yankees - Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez twice each, and Derek Jeter. You will note, however, that he has not plunked Melky Cabrera. Not just this season, but ever. He's never plunked Orlando, Miguel or Asdrubel Cabrera either.

It's not just the Cabreras either - pitchers seem to have some reluctance to plunk a batter with the same last name as the themselves. No pitcher in 2008 has hit a batter with the same last name as him, though a batter has faced a pitcher with the same last name in 93 plate appearances this year. No one did it in 2007 either, in 124 same-name plate appearances. The last time a pitcher plunked a batter with the same last name was just over 2 years ago, on August 22, 2006 when Josh Johnson hit Nick Johnson. In the past 20 seasons (1989 through 2008) There have been just 28 incidents of batters getting hit by pitches thrown by pitchers with the same last name, and one fourth of them were Johnsons plunking Johnsons. Randy and Josh Johnson combined to hit Nick and Reed Johnson 7 times. Brian, Mitch and Woody Williams plunked Matt and Gerald Willaims 4 times, and Pedro, Ramon and Dennis Martinez hit Edgar and Dave Martinez a total of 4 times as well.
Here's the chart:
Last namePitchersBattersTotal HBP
JohnsonRandy, JoshReed, Nick7
WilliamsMitch, Woody, BrianMatt, Gerald4
MartinezPedro, Ramon, DennisEdgar, Dave4
GonzalezGeremiJuan, Alex3
YoungChris, AnthonyDmitri, Eric2
WilsonPaulCraig1
LopezAquilinoLuis1
HamiltonJoeyDarryl1
FinleyChuckSteve1
GibsonPaulKirk1
RedmanMarkTike1
SmithBrynLonnie1
SorianoRafaelAlfonso1



For batters, getting hit by a pitcher with the same first name as you is much more likely. That's happened 231 times, including 6 this season. Pitchers named Mike seem to have taken particular pleasure in plunking batters named Mike with a total of 58 since 1989. That's well ahead of the next closest names, Jeff (17) and Mark (16). In the past 20 seasons, 25.1% of incidents involving a batter getting plunked by a pitcher with the same first name have been Mikes hitting Mikes, and this started long before ESPN Radio began airing Mike and Mike in the Morning. However, no Mikes have plunked any other Mikes in 2008. Here's the full list of first names that have plunked themselves since 1989: Mike - 58, Jeff - 17, Mark - 16, John - 13, Jason - 11, Jose - 7, Matt - 7, Kevin - 7, Brian - 7, Chris - 6, Scott - 6, Tim - 6, Ryan - 6, David - 5, Carlos - 4, Aaron - 4, Joe - 4, Brad - 3, Greg - 3, Todd - 3, Tom - 2, Steve - 2, Paul - 2, Miguel - 2, Chad - 2, Charlie - 2, Eric - 2, Dave - 2, A.J. - 1, Darren - 1, Felipe - 1, Frank - 1, Doug - 1, Brandon - 1, Bill - 1, Orlando - 1, Pat - 1, Larry - 1, Jorge - 1, Josh - 1, Juan - 1, Jay - 1, Jim - 1, Ramon - 1, Rick - 1, Ricky - 1, Shane - 1, Shawn - 1, Tony - 1, Travis - 1


Going back to 1960, there hasn't been a pitcher who plunked a batter with the same first AND last name, though if Chris Young of the Padres could hit Chris Young of the Diamondbacks, we could take care of that. Unfortunately they don't play each other again this season.


NOTE: For first names, we're only working with the first names each player most commonly went by, or are the one they're listed under on Baseball-reference.com or Retrosheet.org. Bobs hitting Roberts or Michaels hitting Mikes or Charlies hitting Chazs don't count.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

spectator sports

One of the great things about batters who get hit by a lot of pitches is that most of them don't slow the game down by standing around at the plate and watching a lot of pitches go by. The average plate appearance that ends in an HBP takes just 3.13 pitches, while the average number of pitches in a non-HBP plate appearance is 3.80. For the plunk-ending plate appearances, those 3.13 pitches break down to 0.78 pitches that get swung at, 1.35 pitches that the batters watches go by, and 1 pitch that strikes the batter. By contrast, the non-HBP plate appearances include an average of 1.71 pitches that get swung at and 2.09 pitches that just get looked at by the batter and fans alike. So that means, on average, when a batter goes up to the plate and doesn't get hit, he's doing about 55% more of absolutely nothing than a batter who takes one for the team - and the fans. (In this case I refer to getting hit by a pitch as doing something, though at other times I may refer to it as standing still... but at least more is happening on those pitches than on a called strike or a ball.)

If you're into that sort of thing, and like to watch batters who do nothing but stand there and watch pitches go by, you might want to check out the Boston Red Sox sometime. 259 times so far this season, a Red Sox batter has stood at the plate and watched at least four pitches go by without swinging at anything. And that DOES NOT include intentional walks. They lead the league in that category, just ahead of the Mets at 258 and the Cardinals at 253. For the Red Sox, that's about 5% of their plate appearances where they just don't do anything, although 2 of those 259 did end up with the batter getting hit by a pitch. The Red Sox are also dead last in swings per pitch, swinging at only 42.5% of all pitches. The major league average is 45%. Really, if they're not going to use those bats they should donate some of them to a less fortunate team who will put them to good use - like the Royals - they swing at 47.4% of pitches thrown to them. They're just happy to HAVE bats, and show their appreciation by swinging them.

Among the top pitch-watchers in the league, only one (Jason Giambi) has been hit by a decent number of pitches. Here's the top 10 list, including ties, in order of excessive time wasting, which I define as plate appearance with 4 or more pitches and no swings, that are not intentional walks:
BatterEWT*HBPsswings per pitch
Nick Markakis4620.404
Bobby Abreu4510.353
Jason Giambi44160.389
B.J. Upton4300.397
Jason Bay4130.387
J.D. Drew4040.37
Joe Mauer4000.351
Carlos Beltran4000.402
Ryan Theriot4030.384
Troy Glaus3930.385
Pat Burrell3910.402
Adam Dunn3960.389
Lyle Overbay3930.393
*You didn't read the paragraph above this chart did you? EWT stands for Excessive Wastes of Time, defined as plate appearances with 0 swings and at least 4 pitches, not including intentional walks.

As you can see, the Red Sox really had to make that Jason Bay deal to keep pace with the Yankees, since they have Abreu and Giambi at the top of the list of batters who like to watch the game go by from the batters box. If this trend continues the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry will just turn into a staring contest. Giambi is the odd case on the chart though, being hit by so many pitches and still finding time to stand around and watch a lot of other pitches. His average number of pitches per plate appearances when he gets hit is 3.25, but when he doesn't get hit they last 4.29 pitches on average. He swings an average of 0.69 times and watches 1.56 pitches go by before getting hit, but when he doesn't get hit by one he's watched 2.59 and swung at 1.70 pitches.


On the other end of the spectrum, the guys who really like swinging a lot get hit slightly more often. Here are the players with the fewest excessively time wasting plate appearances, with a minimum of 300 total plate appearance.
BatterEWT*HBPsswings per pitchtotal plate appearances
Howie Kendrick340.521322
Jason Bartlett450.469368
Ivan Rodriguez530.571368
Kenji Johjima560.490322
Kevin Kouzmanoff5120.554519
Alexei Ramirez510.594367
Alfonso Soriano530.529362
David Dellucci580.462321
Joe Crede640.523347
Freddy Sanchez630.498488
Rod Barajas660.513310
Vladimir Guerrero640.570495
Yuniesky Betancourt620.522444

* - see above if you got this far down the post without picking up what EWT has been defined as.

It will be interesting to see how Ivan Rodriguez fits in with the Yankees, since he's averaging a league leading 2.1 swings per plate appearance.

Kevin Kouzmanoff is the leader in getting hit among this group, and interestingly when he gets hit by a pitch it seems to be because he's been at the plate longer than normal. His HBP plate appearances average 4.0 pitches, while he only sees 3.57 pitches when he doesn't get hit. In his non-plunk PAs, he averages 2 rips of the lumber, but only gets around to 1.25 when he gets hit. Before he gets hit he watches 1.75 pitches without swinging, while he only sees 1.57 pitches he doesn't want to swing at in his non-plunk plate appearances.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The unplunkable gets plunked

Juan Castro got hit by a pitch! Castro made his major league debut in 1995, and since then he'd step up to the plate 2,493 times for the Dodgers, Reds, Twins, Reds again, and this year the Orioles, without being hit by a single pitch. But the 2,494th, against the Red Sox Mike Timlin, blew the whole streak with a 5th inning HBP. Only Mark Lemke (3,664 PA) and Bill Bergen (3,228 PA) had more plate appearances in an unplunked career (not including a few players who started there careers before HBPs were an official stat). Only John Kruk and possible Mickey Mantle had more unplunked plate appearance before there first HBP.

With Castro off the list, that leaves Curt Schilling as the top unplunked player in the majors, with 901 plate appearances and no HBPs.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HBPs by weight class

With the Olympics going on, I thought it might be a good idea to see which batters get hit by the most pitches, and which pitchers hit the most batters, broken down by the weight classes used in the Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling events. Because hey, is it really fair to compare a target the size of Prince Fielder or Adam Dunn to the Eckstein's and Pedroia's of the world?

Here's the top 5 batters and pitchers in HBP and hit batters, grouped by Olympic wrestling weight class:


Weight Class
Batters
Pitchers

66kg

(no batters)
Juan Cruz (ARI) - 3
Danny Herrera (CIN) - 0


74kg
Willy Taveras (COL) - 3
Eugenio Velez (SF) - 1

Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) - 5
Saul Rivera (WSH) - 2
Casey Fossum (DET) - 2
Wesley Wright (HOU) - 2
Jesse Carlson (TOR) - 1
Freddy Dolsi (DET) - 1
Alberto Arias (COL) - 1



84kg
Chase Utley (PHI) - 19
Reed Johnson (CHC) - 11
Nate McLouth (PIT) - 10
David Eckstein (TOR) - 8
Augie Ojeda (ARI) - 7
Jamey Carroll (CLE) - 7
Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) - 7
Aaron Laffey (CLE) - 9
Johnny Cueto (CIN) - 9
Roy Oswalt
(HOU) - 7
Shaun Marcum (TOR) - 7
Jamie Moyer (PHI) - 6
Carlos Marmol (CHC) - 6



96kg
Kevin Kouzmanoff (SD) - 12
Jason Kendall (MIL) - 11
Aaron Rowand (SF) - 11
Manny Ramirez (LAD) - 10
Lastings Milledge (WSH) - 10
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) - 12
Randy Wolf (HOU) - 11
Edinson Volquez (CIN) - 11
Justin Verlander (DET) - 10
Kenny Rogers (DET) - 9
Tim Wakefield (BOS) - 9
Dave Bush (MIL) - 9


120kg
Carlos Quentin (CWS) - 20
Jason Giambi (NYY) - 16
Rickie Weeks (MIL) - 13
Ryan Garko (CLE) - 13
Chris Iannetta (COL) - 11
Micah Owings (ARI) - 12
Roy Halladay (TOR) - 11
Oliver Perez (NYM) - 11
James Shields (TB) - 10
Vicente Padilla (TEX) - 9
Aaron Heilman (NYM) - 9
Brandon Webb (ARI) - 9
Dana Eveland (OAK) - 9
Mike Pelfrey (NYM) - 9
THFO*
Prince Fielder (MIL) - 10
Carlos Delgado (NYM) - 6
Adam Dunn (ARI) - 6
Frank Thomas (OAK) - 2
Daniel Cabrera (BAL) - 17
C.C. Sabathia (MIL) - 5
Jonathan Broxton (LAD) - 2
Tyler Walker (SF) - 1
Bobby Jenks (CWS) - 1
Jeff Niemann (TB) - 1
* - To Heavy for the Olympics


Most of the getting hit by pitches in the major leagues, among batters, occurs in the 96 kilogram weight class, but the 331 batters who are above the 96kg get hit more frequently than the rest, at once per 100 plate appearances. Batters less than or equal to 96 kilograms get hit once per 121 PAs.

Weight ClassHBPTotal BattersPAHBP/PA
74kg498030.0050
84kg201153229510.0088
96kg540412670480.0081
120kg512322517500.0099
THFO24918870.0127


And on the pitching side, it just looks like the 96 and 120 kg categories are where most of the action is:
Weight Class
Hit batters
Total Pitchers
Batters Faced
HB/Batters Faced
66kg321670.0180
74kg14714820.0094
84kg14973169400.0088
96kg544241604380.0090
120kg544262624150.0087
THFO27929970.0090


Just in case you think this is a great idea and think all stats should be tracked by Olympic wrestling weight classes, here are the Major League leaders by weight class of a few other popular offensive stats:

Total Hits:
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - 103
84kg - Dustin Pedroia (BOS) - 165
96kg - Ian Kinsler (TEX) - 165
120kg - Raul Ibanez (SEA) - 147
THFO - Prince Fielder (MIL) - 124

Home Runs:
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - 1
84kg - Chase Utley (PHI) - 30
96kg - Ryan Braun (MIL) - 31
120kg - Carlos Quentin (CWS) - 35
THFO - Adam Dunn (ARI) - 32

Batting Average (300 AB minimum):
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - .261
84kg - Dustin Pedroia (BOS) - .320
96kg - Chipper Jones (ATL) - .363
120kg - Albert Pujols (STL) - .348
THFO - Prince Fielder (MIL) - .273

On-Base Percent (OBP) (300 AB minimum):
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - .313
84kg - Ryan Theriot (CHC) - .396
96kg - Chipper Jones (ATL) - .460
120kg - Albert Pujols (STL) - .459
THFO - Adam Dunn (ARI) - .378

Slugging Pct (300 AB minimum):
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - .312
84kg - Alfonso Soriano (CHC) - .561
96kg - Ryan Braun (MIL) - .589
120kg - Albert Pujols (STL) - .617
THFO - Adam Dunn (ARI) - .520

On-base plus Slugging (OPS) (300 AB minimum):
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - .625
84kg - Chase Utley (PHI) - .926
96kg - Chipper Jones (ATL) - 1.037
120kg - Albert Pujols (STL) - 1.076
THFO - Adam Dunn (ARI) - .898

Total foul balls hit:
74kg - Willy Taveras (COL) - 242
84kg - Akinori Iwamura (TB) - 409
96kg - Jorge Cantu (FLA) - 428
120kg - Josh Hamilton (TEX) - 437
THFO - Carlos Delgado (NYM) - 376

If Ichiro just lost 3.2 kilograms off his listed weight, he could dominate that 74kg weight class. Perhaps someone should talk to him about that in the off-season.

Note: weights listed for weight classes are the maximum allowable weight, so the 84 kilogram class is anyone over 74kg, but less than or equal to 84kg. Also, the Olympic Wrestling competition has 55 and 60kg weight classes, but nobody in Major League Baseball is that small, - at least not this season.

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
Orioles
Daniel Cabrera1720 by Barney Pelty in 1904
D-backs
Micah Owings1218 by Randy Johnson in 2001
Mets
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
Royals
Brian Bannister613 by Jim Colborn in 1977,
Mike Boddicker in 1991,
and Zack Greinke in 2005
Padres
Randy Wolf816 by Matt Clement in 2000
Astros
Roy Oswalt716 by Jack Billingham in 1971,
and Darryl Kile in 1996
Rays
James Shields1020 by Victor Zambrano in 2003
Rangers
Vicente Padilla919 by Charlie Hough in 1987
Red Sox
Tim Wakefield920 by Howard Ehmke in 1923,
and Bronson Arroyo in 2004
Rockies
Jorge De La Rosa,
Ubaldo Jimenez
717 by Pedro Astacio in 1998
Braves
Dave Bush920 by Jamey Wright in 2001
Mariners
Jarrod Washburn718 by Randy Johnson in 1992
Tigers
Justin Verlander1023 by Howard Ehmke in 1922
Nationals
Odalis Perez,
John Lannan
618 by Ramon Ortiz in 2006
Twins
Nick Blackburn720 by Bill Carrick in 1901,
Case Patten in 1904,
and Walter Johnson in 1923
Angels
John Lackey721 by Tom Murphy in 1969
Indians
Aaron Laffey924 by Otto Hess in 1906
PhilliesKyle Kendrick1228 by JackTaylor in 1897
Marlins
Ricky Nolasco,
Mark Hendrickson
519 by DontrelleWillis in 2006
CubsJason Marquis,
Kerry Wood
724 by NixeyCallahan in 1899
Cardinals
Braden Looper827 by WillieSudhoff in 1898
Yankees
Mike Mussina,
Andy Pettitte
626 by JackWarhop in 1909
PiratesPaul Maholm727 by PinkHawley in 1897
A's
Dana Eveland932 by ChickFraser in 1901
Reds
Edinson Volquez1135 by WillWhite in 1884
Braves
Jeff Bennett630 by Vic Willis in 1898 and 1899
Giants
Keiichi Yabu637 by Ed Doheny in 1899
Dodgers
Chad Billingsley641 by Joe McGinnity in 1900

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Plunk streak ends

Carlos Quentin played in a baseball game last night, and he didn't get hit by a pitch - for the first time since August 6th. But, the White Sox began a short road trip in Oakland last night, and all 6 plunks of Quentin's streak were in home games, so he could still continue his home-game plunk streak when the White Sox return to US Cellular Field on Monday.

But since Quentin didn't get hit by a pitch, that leaves the longest active streak of getting hit by pitches at 1... by Jose Guillen, Austin Kearns, Jorge Cantu, Josh Willingham, Shin-Soo Choo and Nick Swisher.

In other important news, Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies hit Austin Kearns of the Nationals with a pitch last night, bringing the Rockies all time franchise total for plunks thrown to 998. I'm sure everyone in Colorado is excited about seeing the team pass such a major milestone in the near future.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

more Quentin plunk streak stuff

As you've likely seen by now, the Carlos Quentin plunk streak moved to 6 consecutive games after yesterday's first inning plunk thrown by Kyle Davies. According to MLB Gameday's pitch f/x data, that one was the closest to the plate of any of the plunks during the streak at about 8.4 inches off the inside of the plate. Here's the listing of Quentin's plunks during the streak:

DatePitcherInningStart SpeedEnd SpeedInches insideheight in inches
08/14/2008Kyle Davies193.584.48.447.3
08/11/2008Josh Beckett894.78614.641.1
08/10/2008David Aardsma494.587.38.641.4
08/09/2008Daisuke Matsuzaka493.885.812.048.9
08/08/2008Jon Lester580.375.111.413.2
08/07/2008Zach Miner490.382.310.635.1

As you can see, yesterday's plunk was also the second highest of the streak. Jon Lester was the only pitcher who has plunked Quentin below the altitude of the strike zone during the streak, most likely because he's the only lefty in the group.

So if you're thinking 6 games isn't much of a streak, here are a couple of things to think about:

First, in the span of the last 50 years, the only other player whose been hit 6 times in a span of 6 consecutive games is Ron Hunt in 1971, on his way to a 50 plunk season. He had a pair of 2 plunk games and a pair in which he didn't get hit in that span of games between August 17th and the 23rd that year. Nobody has been hit 7 times in a 7 game span in the last 50 years. Maybe never. So Quentin isn't just having a record streak of getting hit once - he's also getting hit as many times in this span of games as has ever been recorded.

Second, the average full time player in the past few seasons only gets hit in about 5.6 games per season. For the sake of comparison, a full time batter gets a hit in an average of 95 games in a season. So given the relative rarity of HBPs versus base hits, Quentin's 6 game plunk streak could be viewed as the equivalent of a 101 game hitting streak. How do you like that, Joe DiMaggio? (Then again, if you look at it in probability terms and figure the odds of a plunk in a game are 5.6/162 and the odds of at least one hit in a game are 95/162, then it's more like a 38 game hitting streak, if you work it out as though each game is an independent trial - which it obviously isn't).

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Carlos Quentin extends plunk streak to 6 consecutive games

It took him 5 pitches in his first plate appearance of the game to extend the streak the longest consecutive games plunk streak in recorded history to 6. And he did it against a pitcher who hasn't hit anyone this year. Carlos Quentin has now been hit 20 times by 20 different pitches this season.

That also brings him to 39 for his career, which ties the all time record for players whose last name starts with Q. Joe Quinn had 39 plunks from 1884 to 1901 (although he may have had some un-recorded ones in those early years when there weren't bloggers to keep track of things like this).

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a very plunkful week

If you were watching baseball last week and thought you noticed a lot of people being hit by pitches you were right. 84 batters were struck and sent to first base in the week of August 3rd through the 9th, making that the most plunkful week of the year. Previously June 1st through 7th saw the most batters hit by pitches this season, with 81. Last week, one out of every 88 batters was hit by a pitch, which is about 29% higher than the season plunk rate. For the year, about one out of every 114 batters gets hit.

The last time there was a single week with more than 84 plunks was May 20-26th of 2007. But back in July of 2004, during the week of the 18th to the 24th, 98 batters got hit by pitches, which is the most of any week in the expansion era (since 1961) and very likely the most ever.

plunk streak update - forearm soreness edition

It looks like that last one hurt a little bit. Carlos Quentin has been kept out of the last two White Sox game due to soreness in his forearm, as a result of being hit by a pitch. That would have been the Josh Beckett pitch that made impact with Quentin's forearm at about 86mph (but was moving 94.7 mph out of Beckett's hand). If Quentin gets back in the game this afternoon, he'll probably be facing Kyle Davies. That's not great news for the streak, since Davies hasn't hit anyone this year. But hopefully we'll get an answer one way or another, whether the streak will be broken or extended, instead of another day off. Hopefully Quentin won't suddenly feel like getting out of the way of pitches due to this minor injury, or worries about his chances at the MVP award.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

single season record chase updates

As you may know, last year four different players broke the single season HBP record for their team, and several more have a chance to do it this season. Carlos Quentin of the White Sox has used his 5 game getting-hit streak to move within 4 plunks of Minnie Minoso's White Sox record, while Kevin Kouzmanoff seems to have stalled 1 short of the Padres record, going plunkless since July 8th. Michael Bourn of the Astros finally got started on his pursuit of the Astros record with his first career plunk Monday, but he'll still need to get hit 34 more times by the end of the year. And Jason Giambi, Carlos Pena, Damion Easley and Chase Utley all project to within 3 HBPs of their team records - a short hot streak could put any of them over the top.

Here's a chart with each team's current season leader, with their projected season total and their team's single season HBP record, in order of how likely they are to reach the record:
Team2008 HBP LeaderCurrent totalProjected totalFranchise record
SDPKevin Kouzmanoff121613 by Gene Tenace in 1977
CHWCarlos Quentin192623 by Minnie Minoso in 1956
NYYJason Giambi162224 by Don Baylor in 1985
TBDCarlos Pena91214 by Jonny Gomes in 2005
NYMDamion Easley71013 by Ron Hunt in 1963,
and John Olerud in 1997
PHIChase Utley162225 by Chase Utley in 2007
CLERyan Garko111520 by Ryan Garko in 2007
MILRickie Weeks131825 by Fernando Vina in 1998
TEXMilton Bradley7916 by Alex Rodriguez in 2001
ARIAugie Ojeda and
Conor Jackson
71018 by Andy Fox in 1998
CHCReed Johnson111523 by Bill Dahlen in 1898
FLAHanley Ramirez7917 by Carlos Delgado in 2005
TORScott Rolen101422 by Shea Hillenbrand in 2005
COLChris Iannetta91221 by Eric Young in 1996
OAKKurt Suzuki81120 by Don Baylor in 1976, and
Jason Kendall in 2005
LADJeff Kent71020 by Hughie Jennings in 1900
SEAKenji Johjima6819 by Jose Guillen in 2007
SFGAaron Rowand111526 by Ron Hunt in 1970
BALMelvin Mora91224 by Brady Anderson in 1999
CINEdwin Encarnacion7924 by Jason LaRue in 2004
KCRAlex Gordon6823 by David DeJesus in 2007
DETPlacido Polanco5724 by Bill Freehan in 1968
PITNate McLouth101431 by Jason Kendall in 1997 and 1998
ATLJeff Francoeur81129 by Tommy Tucker in 1891
MINDelmon Young5725 by Kid Elberfeld in 1911
ANATorii Hunter6827 by David Eckstein in 2002
BOSKevin Youkilis91235 by Don Baylor in 1986
STLRick Ankiel,
Cesar Izturis, and
Ryan Ludwick
5731 by Steve Evans in 1910
HOUJ.R. Towles,
Lance Berkman,
and Ty Wigginton
6834 by Craig Biggio in 1997
WSNLastings Milledge101450 by Ron Hunt in 1971

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Quentin plunk streak update

The White Sox, for some strange reason, decided that Carlos Quentin might need a day off after getting hit by pitches in 5 consecutive games. He didn't get in the game at all last night, which means he can continue his streak tonight if he's back in the lineup. Luke Hochevar is throwing for the Royals tonight, against the White Sox, so he'll have the first few shots at extending Quentin's streak. He's hit 5 batters this season, but none of there names started with Q.

Espn.com reports that 5 games is the longest plunk streak in the live ball era (post-1920), which basically means if anybody ever had a longer streak, nobody, including Elias Sports Bureau, bothered writing it down.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quentin extends streak to 5 games

White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin got hit by a pitch in his 5th consecutive game last night, which is a record for at least the length of time we have such records for. We don't know for sure that Hughie Jennings or Tommy Tucker never got hit in 5 different games, but we do know that Craig Biggio never did it, among his 285 career HBPs - not even in the year he got hit 34 times. Jason Kendall's been hit 229 times, but never in 5 consecutive games - not even in the back to back seasons he got hit 31 times. Don Baylor never had a streak of more than 4 games with a plunk, and that one wasn't even in the season he set the American League record with 35 plunks. Ron Hunt got hit 50 times in 1971, but didn't manage to get hit in more than 3 games in a row.

So Carlos Quentin is truly in the midst of something special. In reverse order, he's been plunked by Josh Beckett, David Aardsma, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester and Zach Miner. That's 4 right-handers and one lefty (Lester), four starters and one reliever (Aarsma), and 4 Americans and one pitcher from Japan. Four of those 5 hit him with pitches over 90 miles per hour, according to MLB Gameday, with only Lester using an 80.3 mph change up. The others were moving 94.7 (Beckett), 94.5 (Aardsma), 93.8 (Daisuke) and 90.3 (Miner) mph, when leaving the hands of the pitchers. Miner, Daisuke and Aardsma all hit him in the 4th inning, while Lester waited until the 5th and Beckett waited until the 8th inning to hit Quentin.

So tonight Quentin and the White Sox face Brian Bannister and the Royals. We'll see if Quentin can get hit in a 6th consecutive game. He's also just 4 HBPs away from the White Sox single season record now, and he's only 1 plunk away from the record for the most HBPs by a batter whose last name starts with Q. Joe Quinn has been the most plunked Q since 1901 with 39, but Quentin has 38 in just 252 career games.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Carlos Quentin - 4 game getting hit streak

Yesterday, Carlos Quentin of the White Sox got hit by a pitch thrown by David Aardsma of the Red Sox. That was the first time ever that a pitcher whose name starts with a double A has hit a batter whose name starts with Q, but it also extended Quentin's streak of getting hit by pitches to 4 consecutive games. A handful of players in recent history have been hit by pitches in 4 straight games, including Don Baylor and FP Santangelo, and most recently Shawn Green, but no one in the era we have such records for (the retrosheet era, or 1956 to today) has been hit in 5 straight games. So Carlos Quentin could be the first tonight - maybe the first eve, but definitely the first since prior to 1956.

That's just one of several historic things Quentin could do this season - he's also leading the league in both plunks and homers. If he holds on to both leads he could be the 6th player ever to lead his league in both categories, joining Mike Schmidt (NL 1976), Harmen Killebrew (AL 1964), Joe DiMaggio (AL 1948), Al Rosen (AL 1950), and Cy Williams (NL 1927). Maybe if he did that he'd also win the MVP award, and be the first player since Orlando Cepeda in 1967 to win the MVP and lead the league in getting hit by pitches. And, Quentin could also break the White Sox single season record for HBPs. He's currently on pace to get hit 25 times, and the White Sox record is 23, set by Minnie Minoso in 1953. He could also be the first player ever to hit 45 homers and get hit 25 times in a season. Plus, he's already broken the record for the most times a players whose last initial is Q has been hit by a pitcher whose last name starts with a double A. David Aardsma is still the all time major league leader in alphabetical order, just ahead of Hank Aaron.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Griffey reaches 80 - some other guy reaches 150*

Ken Griffey Jr. got hit by a pitch yesterday, which was his first plunk since joining the White Sox, but more importantly, it was the 80th of his career. He's now in a 5 way tie for 133rd place on the all times list, and 25th among active players. He's the 5th player to get hit by pitches in both leagues this season, and he's one of 8 active players who have 30 career plunks in each league. He's also one of only two players in major league history to homer 200 times and get hit by 30 pitches in both leagues - Frank Robinson is the other.

Also yesterday, Jason Giambi recorded his 150th career plunk, which should have been a more important milestone than Griffey's, and probably would have made a more interesting post, if not for Giambi's admission that he used BALCO brand performance enhancing drugs. He's only the 3rd left hander to reach that milestone, and the 19th player overall, but as far as we know the rest of them got there without going on the juice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Birthday plunks

Through yesterday, there have been 1,161 batters hit by pitches in the major leagues this season, but only 3 batters have been hit by a pitch on their birthday - Conor Jackson on May 7th, Wes Helms on May 12th, and Carlos Delgado on June 25th. Batters have had 397 plate appearance on there birthdays in 2008, so pitchers have plunked birthday batters just once per 132 plate appearances. Overall, batters are getting hit about once every 113.6 plate apperance, so that works out to a 13.7% reduction in plunk rates on a batters birthday. And I bet they think the pitchers aren't getting them something nice. A 13.7% reduction in plunks per plate appearance on your birthday is the gift that keeps on giving slightly less frequently than the rest of the time.

Last year pitchers were much more generous to birthday batters - they hit them with pitches 238% more often than the season plunks per plate appearance rate. 12 batters got hit by pitches on their 2007 birthday, in 542 birthday plate appearances, so a birthday plunk was delivered in about one out of every 45 such plate appearances.

Among active players, none have been hit more than twice in their career on their birthday, and Travis Hafner is the only one to get hit twice in one game on his birthday ( in 2005).

On the pitching side, only 2 pitchers have celebrated their birthday by going out and hitting a batter with a pitch, which is also way down from last years total of 9. Among active pitchers, Randy Johnson has hit the most batters on his birthday, with 3, but he's hit 186 batters in all. His birthday is just one of 15 calendar dates on which he's hit 3 batters in his career, and he has two dates when he's hit 4 and two more when he's hit 5. So he's certainly not making September 15th special by hitting batters.

There's still plenty of time for birthday plunks left this season - there are 139 players who have batted this year and have a birthday between today and the end of the season, and 110 players who have pitched and have a birthday coming up. And, there's always the September roster expansion.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

achieving victory through superior pain tolerance

In football, they talk a lot about being more physical than your opponent, or out-toughing them, as a key to victory. You don't hear that kind of language so much in baseball, but if there is a way to prove your baseball team it tougher than the other team, it's getting hit by more pitches. And it's a winning strategy.

So far this season, the team that gets hit by more pitches in a game has won that game 59.6% of the time. That's down a little from last season, when teams achieved victory in 60.6% of games in which they took more plunks than their opponent, but it's right in line with the division era total (1995-2007) of 59.7%. So if a team could insure getting hit more times than the opponent in every game in a season, they'd go 97-65 at this year rate.

Some teams have been better than others at implementing this strategy this season. The Orioles have the best record in the league, in games when they get hit more times than they hit their opponents, with 14 wins and 4 losses. Unfortunately for them, they've only gotten hit more than the other team in 18 games. Overall, they're 54-58, so their win percentage is 0.296 higher when they manage to take more plunks than the other team. (Having league leading plunker Daniel Cabrera pitching probably doesn't help).

Milwaukee has achieved 23 victories in games in which they get hit more, winning 71.9% of such games. Getting hit more times than the other team in 32 games has helped them achieve a 0.553 winning pct. That's good for 2nd place in their division.

The Indians have been plunked more than there opponents in 43 games this season (more than any other team), but they've only won 21 of those games. That's only a 0.488 win pct., but that's still better than their 0.438 overall mark. In all, 26 teams do have a better win pct when they get hit more times than the other team. The only ones who do worse when they get plunked more are the Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, and Mariners. So if you're facing one of those teams, tell your pitchers not to worry too much about locating those inside pitches... not that you'd want to tell them to intentionally hit batters on those teams, but the numbers show you have a better chance of winning if you happen to throw a couple that don't quite miss them.

TeamW-L (pct) with more HBPW-L (pct) overall
difference
Orioles14-4 (0.778)54-58 (0.482)0.296
Brewers23-9 (0.719)63-51 (0.553)0.166
Dodgers15-6 (0.714)56-56 (0.500)0.214
Twins
12-5 (0.706)62-51 (0.549)0.157
Braves
14-6 (0.700)52-61 (0.460)0.24
Cubs
18-8 (0.692)68-46 (0.596)0.096
Rays
20-9 (0.69)67-45 (0.598)0.092
Angels
17-8 (0.68)70-43 (0.619)0.061
Jays19-9 (0.679)57-56 (0.504)0.175
Astros
14-7 (0.667)54-58 (0.482)0.185
Cardinals
13-7 (0.650)63-52 (0.548)0.102
Marlins
21-12 (0.636)60-53 (0.531)0.105
Red Sox
18-11 (0.621)65-49 (0.57)0.051
Dbacks
8-5 (0.615)59-54 (0.522)0.093
Phillies
16-10 (0.615)61-51 (0.545)0.07
White Sox
17-11 (0.607)62-49 (0.559)0.048
Rockies
16-11 (0.593)52-63 (0.452)0.141
Royals
15-11 (0.577)53-61 (0.465)0.112
Pirates
15-12 (0.556)51-62 (0.451)0.105
Giants
11-9 (0.55)47-65 (0.42)0.13
Mets
7-6 (0.538)59-53 (0.527)0.011
A's
10-9 (0.526)53-59 (0.473)0.053
Rangers
13-12 (0.520)60-54 (0.526)-0.006
Padres
14-13 (0.519)43-70 (0.381)0.138
Yankees
17-16 (0.515)61-52 (0.540)-0.025
Indians
21-22 (0.488)49-63 (0.438)0.05
Nationals
16-18 (0.471)42-71 (0.372)0.099
Reds
7-8 (0.467)52-62 (0.456)0.011
Tigers
7-8 (0.467)55-57 (0.491)-0.024
Mariners
5-12 (0.294)44-69 (0.389)-0.095


So most of the time, getting hit by pitches more than the other team is an effective strategy, but as far as oversimplified strategies go, it's not nearly as good as "score more runs than the other team" or even "get more RBI than the other team". It's actually not even quite as good as walking more than the other team. Teams have walked there way to victory at a rate of 61.6% this season - that's about the same as last season, but down from the 62.3% victory rate for teams that walk more than their opponent in the seasons from 1995 to 2007. That doesn't include intentional walks though.

Getting more intentional walks than the other team has meant victory in 77.8% of games this season. However, it's getting harder to draw victory through intentional walks, because the average for the 1995-2007 span is 79%. What's even more interesting about that is that teams use the intentional walk to avoid homers, but teams that hit more homers than the other team only win 75% of the time this year. That's up a bit this season from the 73.7% rate of homering your way to victory from 1995 to 2007. So far this season, the team that hits more homers in a game is 880-294, while the team that draws more intentional walks is 281-80.

The recent popular trend of placing a high value on OBP works out pretty well as a strategy for victory - the team with the higher OBP in a particular game has won 81.7% of the time this season. However, they might be over-complicating things, because just getting more hits than thte other team wins 81.5% of the games in 2008. However, hitting your way to victory is more effective this year, since it worked 79.1% of the time in 1995 to 2007, and out OBPing your opponent is down a bit, having worked 82.5% of the time in that span.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reds vs Kendall

Last night, the Milwaukee Brewers began a 3 game series at Cincinnati against the Reds, and Jason Kendall did not get hit by a pitch. If he does get plunked by the Reds this week, he'll improve on his 21 total career HBPs versus that team. No other active player has been hit 20 times by the same team.

The player with the best chance to join Kendall, and get plunked for the 20th time by the same team, is Jason Giambi. He's has been plunked 19 times by Baltimore, and will still face them 6 more times this season. Or, he could get hit 3 more times in 6 remaining games against the Red Sox, which would bring him to 20 career plunks thrown by that franchise.

Damion Easley has been hit 19 times by the Red Sox and 18 times by the A's, but he's playing for the Mets, so he won't reach 20 plunks by the same team this season, unless he gets traded back to the AL.

Luis Gonzalez has been hit 19 times by the Rockies, but he just completed the final of the season in which his team (the Marlins) face Colorado. He didn't get hit by a pitch and only had a few pinch hit plate appearances to try.

The only other players in the last 20 years who got hit 20 times by the same team are Brady Anderson, who got hit 20 times by the Tigers, and Craig Biggio, who like Kendall got hit 21 times by the Reds. Biggio also got hit 22 times by the Pirates, 27 times by the Cardinals and 33 times by the Rockies.

Here's the list of active players who have gotten hit at least 15 times by the same team:
PlayerOpponentCareer HBP2008 HBP
Jason KendallReds212
Damion EasleyRed Sox
190
Jason GiambiOrioles
190
Luis GonzalezRockies
190
Damion EasleyA's
180
Jason GiambiRed Sox
170
Jason KendallCubs170
Derek JeterRed Sox160
Jason KendallBrewers160
Jason KendallCardinals161
Jason KendallAstros161
Melvin MoraBlue Jays
161
Derek JeterRays150
Derek JeterOrioles152
Jason KendallMarlins151
Kevin MillarRays150
Alex RodriguezRed Sox153
Alex RodriguezAngels150

Monday, August 4, 2008

why aren't more pitchers getting hit by pitches?

In Washington yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds visited the Washington Nationals for a game with an interesting pitching matchup. Johnny Cueto took the mound for the visitors against Collin Balester, and they are 2 of the 3 pitchers who have been hit by a pitch while batting this season (Brandon Backe is the other). They're also 2 of only 3 batters born in 1986 who have ever been hit by pitches, but for now, we're more interested in why only 3 pitchers have been hit by pitches this season.

In 2007, there were a total of 20 pitchers plunked in the majors, and that figure hasn't dropped below 15 since during the 21st century. By August 4th last season, 13 pitchers had been hit by pitches. The last time so few pitchers got hit in a season was 1992, when only 3 got hit.

The number of plate appearances when pitchers actually get to bat has been in steady decline over the year - in 2005 you could see pitchers bat about 4.7 times per game (including both teams), but by 2007 it was down to 4.54. It's actually up slightly this year, at 4.61 but that's very close to the rate of plate appearances per game that pitchers were at as of August 4th last year. So they're not getting hit less just because they're batting less, since they still managed to get hit 20 times last year.

Perhaps the reason for the decrease in pitchers getting hit is the overall supply and demand of major league pitchers. In 2005, 603 people pitched in the major leagues. In 2006 it took 635 pitchers to get through the season, and in 2007 there were 666 players who threw a major league pitch. Eventually the worlds pitching reserves would be tapped out at this rate of expansion, not to mention the maximization of the pitching refinery capacity. Clubs probably realized if their own pitchers got hurt getting hit by pitches, they'd need to go find more - and if their opponents pitchers got hurt while getting hit by pitches, that would just lower the world's supply of pitchers and cause the price to go up, which are high enough thanks to rampant speculation in the pitching futures markets.

So far this season, 578 different pitchers have already been used in 1,669 games. At this time last year, there had already been 585 pitchers used, in only 1629 games. Perhaps by trying to avoid hitting other pitchers with pitches, the league thinks they're keeping more pitchers in the game, but in some case pitchers might be safer getting hit by a pitch than trying to run hard around the bases (Chien-Ming Wang?).

Here are the total HBPs recorded by pitchers at the plate for the past 20 year:

2008 - 3
2007 - 20
2006 - 15
2005 - 17
2004 - 15
2003 - 17
2002 - 15
2001 - 19
2000 - 23
1999 - 14
1998 - 18
1997 - 17
1996 - 12
1995 - 14
1994 - 12
1993 - 14
1992 - 3
1991 - 10
1990 - 16
1989 - 9

Friday, August 1, 2008

Varitek

Commenter Gene recently asked for a complete breakdown of people getting hit by pitches while Jason Varitek is catching, so here it goes. The timing is nice too, because at the moment, Varitek is sitting on a career total of exactly 500 opposing batters plunked (that's a pretty good OBP) while playing catcher in the regular season. Adam Jones was the recipient of the 500th plunk from a Varitek battery-mate on July 13th this year, and Daisuke Matsuzaka had the honor of throwing it.

Jason Varitek came to the Red Sox organization as a minor leaguer in 1997 as part of an infamous trade that sent Varitek and Derek Lowe from the Mariners in exchange for Heathcliffe Slocumb. 'Tek played 1 game in the majors in '97, but no opposing batters got hit. Beginning in 1998 though, only Jason Kendall has called more pitches that veered into a batter. Among all current active catchers, only Brad Ausmus, Kendall, and Ivan Rodriguez have had the close up view of more batters getting hit. Varitek led all catchers in getting batters hit in the 2002, 2004 and 2005 seasons, and his 2005 total of 72 might be the all time record. We can definitely establish that it's the post-1922 record anyway.

Of the 500 batters who have been hit with Varitek behind the plate, 76 have been New York Yankees. Yankees have been hit 13 times more than the next team on 'Teks hit list, which is the Blue Jays with 63. The only teams who have never gotten hit with him catching are the Cubs and Brewers. Jason Giambi leads opposing batters in getting hit by pitches that Varitek was trying to catch, with 15, and 14 of those have come since he joined the Yankees. Former Blue Jay, Reed Johnson, is next with 11, tied with Alex Rodriguez. Derek Jeter has been hit 10 times as the result of Varitek's pitch calling. Overall, 253 different batters have been plunked after stepping into the batters box with Jason Varitek catching.

Those 253 batters have been hit by just 97 different pitchers working with Jason Varitek. Pedro Martinez is far and away the Varitek battery-mate whose battered the most batters, with 64. Derek Lowe is next with 35, and Bronson Arroyo threw 31. Tim Wakefield is next after them with 23, making him the leader among current Red Sox. Wake has hit 149 batters since joining the team, and holds the franchise record, but the team has made it traditional to give Varitek the day off when Wakefield pitches. So Varitek has had 500 opposing batters plunked without even catching, very often, for the teams all time leading plunker.

The down side of all those batters being hit is that they've scored 117 runs after reaching base on those plunks. 15 of them occurred with the bases loaded to drive in a run. But 117 runners coming around to score after plunks is only 23.4%, and the league average since 1998 has been 27.2%. (Varitek's battery never plunked Craig Biggio, who scored on 34.7% of his plunks)

Jason Varitek's opposing batters plunked
By Team:
Teamopposing batter hbp
Yankees
76
Blue Jays
63
(Devil) Rays
52
Orioles
37
A's
35
Mariners32
Tigers30
Royals24
Indians23
Angels21
Rangers
20
White Sox
16
Twins
13
Marlins
10
Braves
8
Phillies
8
Mets
6
Cardinals
5
Diamondbacks
4
Giants
4
Pirates
3
Padres
3
Expos
2
Rockies
2
Reds
1
Dodgers
1
Astros
1


By Year:
yearopposing batter hbp
200822
200747
200642
200572
200467
200357
200262
200125
200042
199944
199820



Here's the full list of batters who have gotten hit by pitches with Varitek catching:
Jason Giambi (15), Reed Johnson (11), Alex Rodriguez (11), Derek Jeter (10), Carlos Delgado (9), Damion Easley (9), Chuck Knoblauch (8), Olmedo Saenz (7), Gary Sheffield (6), Bernie Williams (6), Ben Grieve (6), Carl Crawford (6), Frank Catalanotto (5), Angel Berroa (5), Jose Guillen (5), Ramon Hernandez (5), Alfonso Soriano (5), Shannon Stewart (5), Melvin Mora (5), Jorge Posada (5), Josh Phelps (4), Adam Kennedy (4), Placido Polanco (4), Bengie Molina (4), Vernon Wells (4), Eric Hinske (4), Aubrey Huff (4), Jonny Gomes (4), Javy Lopez (4), Ryan Garko (4), Darin Erstad (3), Jeff Conine (3), Michael Cuddyer (3), Brady Anderson (3), John Buck (3), Miguel Cairo (3), Mike Cameron (3), Matt Lawton (3), Julio Lugo (3), Dave Martinez (3), Edgar Martinez (3), Nick Johnson (3), Kenji Johjima (3), Shea Hillenbrand (3), A.J. Hinch (3), Gerald Williams (3), Larry Walker (3), Randy Winn (3), Mark Teixeira (3), Miguel Tejada (3), Frank Thomas (3), Desi Relaford (3), Alexis Rios (2), F.P. Santangelo (2), Damian Rolls (2), Aaron Rowand (2), Richie Sexson (2), Charles Thomas (2), Robin Ventura (2), Ichiro Suzuki (2), Luis Matos (2), Kevin Mench (2), John Olerud (2), Magglio Ordonez (2), Rafael Palmeiro (2), Phil Nevin (2), Carlos Pena (2), Delmon Young (2), Nick Swisher (2), Gregg Zaun (2), Rondell White (2), Aaron Hill (2), Travis Hafner (2), Jerry Hairston (2), Chris Gomez (2), Alex Gonzalez (2), Jermaine Dye (2), Vladimir Guerrero (2), Tony Graffanino (2), Brandon Inge (2), Jacque Jones (2), Jason Kendall (2), Corey Koskie (2), Jose Lopez (2), Mike Lowell (2), Mike Lieberthal (2), Bret Boone (2), Mike Bordick (2), Milton Bradley (2), Brad Ausmus (2), Rocco Baldelli (2), Roberto Alomar (2), David DeJesus (2), Scott Brosius (2), Ben Broussard (2), Emil Brown (2), Felix Escalona (2), Erubiel Durazo (2), Brad Fullmer (2), David Eckstein (2), Brook Fordyce (2), Andy Fox (1), Jeff Frye (1), Mark Ellis (1), Rafael Furcal (1), Andres Galarraga (1), Joey Gathright (1), Jody Gerut (1), Ray Durham (1), Gary DiSarcina (1), Ryan Doumit (1), Carl Everett (1), Sal Fasano (1), Tony Fernandez (1), Steve Finley (1), John Flaherty (1), Tony Clark (1), Royce Clayton (1), Joey Cora (1), Wil Cordero (1), Marty Cordova (1), Craig Counsell (1), Steve Cox (1), Midre Cummings (1), Jack Cust (1), Joe Crede (1), Bubba Crosby (1), Jose Cruz (1), Jason Bartlett (1), Tony Batista (1), Danny Bautista (1), Albert Belle (1), Dave Berg (1), Yuniesky Betancourt (1), Hank Blalock (1), Henry Blanco (1), Mike Blowers (1), Aaron Boone (1), Willy Aybar (1), Brandon Backe (1), Alex Arias (1), Reggie Abercrombie (1), Bobby Abreu (1), Benny Agbayani (1), Edgardo Alfonzo (1), Russell Branyan (1), Robinson Cano (1), Sean Casey (1), Jay Buhner (1), Ellis Burks (1), Homer Bush (1), Freddie Bynum (1), Marlon Byrd (1), Eric Byrnes (1), Jolbert Cabrera (1), Melky Cabrera (1), Mark Little (1), Paul Lo Duca (1), Kenny Lofton (1), Ricky Ledee (1), Aaron Ledesma (1), Tino Martinez (1), Victor Martinez (1), Fernando Lunar (1), Wendell Magee (1), Chris Magruder (1), Nick Markakis (1), Al Martin (1), Casey Kotchman (1), Chad Kreuter (1), Adam LaRoche (1), Paul Konerko (1), Brian Jordan (1), Adam Jones (1), Akinori Iwamura (1), John Jaha (1), Charles Johnson (1), Craig Grebeck (1), Shawn Green (1), Todd Greene (1), Ken Griffey (1), Mark Grudzielanek (1), Juan Gonzalez (1), Benji Gil (1), Keith Ginter (1), Ross Gload (1), Toby Hall (1), Scott Hatteberg (1), Rickey Henderson (1), Cristian Guzman (1), Ryan Howard (1), Orlando Hudson (1), Brian Hunter (1), Torii Hunter (1), Butch Huskey (1), Raul Ibanez (1), Tadahito Iguchi (1), Ty Wigginton (1), Brad Wilkerson (1), Josh Willingham (1), Josh Wilson (1), Vance Wilson (1), Dmitri Young (1), Chris Young (1), Todd Walker (1), Timo Perez (1), David Newhan (1), Dean Palmer (1), Mike Piazza (1), Mike Rabelo (1), Joe Randa (1), Mike Redmond (1), Jeremy Reed (1), Kevin Millar (1), Lastings Milledge (1), Damon Minor (1), Dustan Mohr (1), Gary Matthews (1), Mark McLemore (1), Brian McRae (1), Adam Melhuse (1), Jose Molina (1), Raul Mondesi (1), Craig Monroe (1), Eric Munson (1), Xavier Nady (1), Mike Napoli (1), Mike Sweeney (1), Kelly Stinnett (1), Kevin Stocker (1), Omar Vizquel (1), Jim Thome (1), Bubba Trammell (1), Matt Treanor (1), Dan Uggla (1), Juan Uribe (1), Jose Valentin (1), Mo Vaughn (1), Randy Velarde (1), Ryan Shealy (1), Carlos Ruiz (1), Shane Spencer (1), Scott Spiezio (1), Chris Singleton (1), Grady Sizemore (1), Ramon Santiago (1), David Segui (1), Kerry Robinson (1), Ivan Rodriguez (1), Jimmy Rollins (1)


Here's the full list of every pitcher who's hit a batter with Varitek catching:
Pedro Martinez (64), Derek Lowe (35), Bronson Arroyo (31), Tim Wakefield (23), Matt Clement (22), John Burkett (16), Josh Beckett (14), Rolando Arrojo (13), Curt Schilling (13), Keith Foulke (12), Julian Tavarez (11), Mike Timlin (11), Byung-Hyun Kim (9), Jon Lester (8), David Wells (8), Jonathan Papelbon (7), Ramon Martinez (7), Justin Masterson (7), Rich Garces (7), Casey Fossum (6), Ramiro Mendoza (6), John Halama (6), Manny Delcarmen (5), Frank Castillo (5), Brian Rose (5), Pat Rapp (4), Rheal Cormier (4), Kason Gabbard (4), Javier Lopez (4), Matt Mantei (3), Daisuke Matsuzaka (3), Wade Miller (3), Tomokazu Ohka (3), Chris Haney (3), Craig Hansen (3), Kip Gross (3), Wayne Gomes (3), Jim Corsi (3), Lenny DiNardo (3), Brendan Donnelly (3), Chad Bradford (3), Rod Beck (3), Willie Banks (3), Bret Saberhagen (3), Scott Sauerbeck (3), Hipolito Pichardo (3), John Wasdin (3), Jason Shiell (2), Kyle Snyder (2), Jeff Suppan (2), Mark Portugal (2), David Riske (2), Scott Williamson (2), Steve Avery (2), Jin Ho Cho (2), Bartolo Colon (2), David Cone (2), Bryan Corey (2), Bryce Florie (2), Geremi Gonzalez (2), Mark Guthrie (2), Brandon Lyon (2), Hideo Nomo (2), Darren Oliver (2), Jason Johnson (2), Hideki Okajima (1), Mike Myers (1), Kent Mercker (1), Cla Meredith (1), Ron Mahay (1), Mark Malaska (1), Sun-Woo Kim (1), Sang-Hoon Lee (1), Curt Leskanic (1), Tim Harikkala (1), Chad Harville (1), Mike Holtz (1), Bobby Howry (1), Kevin Jarvis (1), Tom Gordon (1), Paxton Crawford (1), Dennis Eckersley (1), Alan Embree (1), Jeff Fassero (1), Craig Breslow (1), David Aardsma (1), Terry Adams (1), Brian Barkley (1), Bob Wolcott (1), Steve Woodard (1), Tim Young (1), Robert Person (1), Pete Schourek (1), Phil Seibel (1), Dario Veras (1)

Interactive Bruise Board: