Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tight race in final weeks for most hit batters of the 00s

There are less than two weeks left of the baseball decade of the 00s, and with the decade coming to a close, players are no doubt racing to enshrine themselves in statistical history by leading the decade in various statistical categories. Among the most important of these, and among the tightest of races, is the Hit Batters stat. From the beginning of the 2000 season to this morning, Tim Wakefield and Jeff Weaver have each plunked 106 batters. But, playing time may be the big issue deciding this race. Wakefield is struggling with injuries, and gutted through a rainy start last, but didn't hit anyone. Weaver has been relegated to relief role with the Dodgers and only has 3 appearances and 4 innings pitched this month. Jamey Wright has a longshot chance at catching them, with 101 plunks.

Here are the top 20 pitchers in hitting batters during the first decade of the 2000s:
Tim Wakefield - 106
Jeff Weaver - 106
Jamey Wright - 101
Vicente Padilla - 99
Chan Ho Park - 97
Randy Johnson - 88
Pedro Martinez - 85
Matt Clement - 85
Jeff Suppan - 82
Barry Zito - 81
Carlos Zambrano - 81
Jamie Moyer - 79
Kerry Wood - 79
Bronson Arroyo - 76
Byung-Hyun Kim - 75
John Lackey - 73
Kenny Rogers - 72
David Bush - 72
Tim Hudson - 71
Julian Tavarez - 70
A.J. Burnett - 70

Hopefully either Weaver or Wakefield will be able to throw one more plunk this year to break the tie. Also, since Weaver missed last season and Wakefield has struggled with his health this year, it could be the last plunk either of them throw.

On the batting side of the HBP scene, Jason Giambi would have to get 18 more times this year, and Jason Kendall would have to avoid every remaining pitch for anyone not named Jason Kendall to lead the 00s in HBPs. Kendall has been hit 155 times since the beginning of the 2000 season. He'll join an illustrius list of decade HBP leaders, after Craig Biggio ('90s), Don Baylor ('80s), Ron Hunt ('70s), Frank Robinson ('60s) and Minnie Minoso ('50s).

Here are the top 20 in HBPs for the decade:
Jason Kendall - 155
Jason Giambi - 138
David Eckstein - 134
Craig Biggio - 132
Carlos Delgado - 126
Alex Rodriguez - 125
Jose Guillen - 110
Melvin Mora - 108
Aaron Rowand - 108
Derek Jeter - 106
Chase Utley - 105
Jason LaRue - 104
Reed Johnson - 98
Craig Wilson - 90
Geoff Jenkins - 87
Miguel Tejada - 87
A.J. Pierzynski - 84
Fernando Vina - 84
Scott Rolen - 83
Alex Cora - 82

Kendall is a free agent this winter, so hopefully someone will give him a job to keep getting hit into the next decade.

In news from other hitting stats, Ichiro Suzuki (2,015) will take home the 00s decade hits title. He's currently 88 hits ahead of Derek Jeter (1,927) for the decade, despite not playing in 2000. Miguel Tejada (1,837), Vlad Guerrero (1,743) and Johnny Damon (1,740) round out the top 5, but Todd Helton (1,737) and Alex Rodriguez (1,731) could still catch Damon or Guerrero.

Some other batters probably lead the decade in hitting home runs, but since this was the decade we learned a lot about what players have done to help themselves hit home runs over the past 20 years I'm not going to publicize those tainted accomplishment by listing them. I will mention, however, that Jamie Moyer was victimized for 268 home runs during the 00s so far, and Javier Vazquez is right behind him with 267 homers allowed. Only Ferguson Jenkins (301 in the '70s) and Robin Roberts (327 in the '50s) gave up more homers in a decade than those two, and without looking I'll say that those two pitched a more innings. Jeff Suppan is third this decade with 257, but hopefully he can't catch Moyer or Vazquez. Livan Hernandez is next with 250, and Mark Buehrle is 5th for the decade with 236. Those positions probably won't change by the end of the season, but the Vazuez vs Moyer race for most home runs allowed could be interesting.

Another tight race for the end of the decade, is the Sacrifice Fly race on the batting side. Take a look at the top 10 Sac Fly leaders for the 00s:
Mike Lowell - 76
Orlando Cabrera - 76
Carlos Lee - 74
Bobby Abreu - 66
Carlos Delgado - 65
Garret Anderson - 62
Alex Rodriguez - 60
Todd Helton - 60
Carlos Beltran - 60
Jeff Conine - 59

I'm sure Lowell, Cabrera, and Carlos Lee will be going all out for the rest of the season to sacrifice fly their way to history, joining Frank Thomas, Andre Dawson, Al Oliver, Brooks Robinson, and the other Frank Thomas from the 50s as the only players to lead a decade in sac flies, since they were first officially tracked in the mid 50s. Hopefully the adrenaline of that historic chase won't cause them to hit those sacrifice flies too far and turn them into home runs.

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