Friday, July 31, 2009

Garko gets 11th

HBPs of note: July 30, 2009

It was a pretty quiet day for HBPs yesterday, with only 7 plunks around the league. Ryan Garko got his 11th of the season, bringing the Indians season total to 61. That's a lot, but they'll need to pick up the pace a little if they want to break their record from last year.

So far this year, 407 different pitchers have hit 354 different batters a total of 997 times. 925 of those have been the first plunk thrown by a pitcher who had never previously plunked that batter.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

A brief history of people getting hit by John Lackey pitches

John Lackey is the new franchise record holder in the category of hitting batters for the Los Angeles Angels of 33°48′1″N 117°52′58″W. He's hit 72 batters since first putting on an Angels uniform, and the Angels have gone 33-27 when he hits at least one batter with a pitch. When he hits 2 batters, they're 7-3, but they're 0-1 when he hits 3 batters in a game. His favorite inning to plunk batters has been the 2nd with 18, and he's hit 38 left handers vs 34 righty batters. That's a little unusual for a right handed pitcher. His favorite team to hit with pitches has been the New York Yankees. He's hit them with 9 of his 72 plunks, and he's the all time leader in plunking Derek Jeter, having done so 4 times. Of the 72 batters Lackey has hit, only 20 of them ended up scoring a run after reaching base on the plunk, and only 16 of those were scored as Earned Runs. And, only 1 of the 72 was a bases loaded plunk.

So, let's congratulate John Lackey on this historic accomplishment, and to celebrate, here's the complete list of all 72 of his hit batters, complete with links to each box score:

1 - 06/30/2002 - Brian Jordan
2 - 08/05/2002 - Shane Halter
3 - 08/22/2002 - Jason Giambi
4 - 09/01/2002 - Melvin Mora
5 - 04/06/2003 - Terrence Long
6 - 04/16/2003 - Ryan Christenson
7 - 05/02/2003 - Josh Phelps
8 - 05/18/2003 - Jeremy Giambi
9 - 05/24/2003 - Jared Sandberg
10 - 05/24/2003 - Aubrey Huff
11 - 07/20/2003 - Melvin Mora
12 - 08/10/2003 - Jhonny Peralta
13 - 08/20/2003 - Miguel Olivo
14 - 09/07/2003 - Joe Randa
15 - 04/15/2004 - Bret Boone
16 - 05/19/2004 - Derek Jeter
17 - 05/24/2004 - Carlos Delgado
18 - 05/24/2004 - Simon Pond
19 - 07/18/2004 - Nomar Garciaparra
20 - 08/03/2004 - Torii Hunter
21 - 08/03/2004 - Corey Koskie
22 - 09/20/2004 - Randy Winn
23 - 04/22/2005 - Bobby Kielty
24 - 04/28/2005 - Derek Jeter
25 - 05/21/2005 - Hee Seop Choi
26 - 05/26/2005 - Aaron Rowand
27 - 06/06/2005 - Andruw Jones
28 - 06/29/2005 - Rod Barajas
29 - 07/17/2005 - Bret Boone
30 - 08/31/2005 - Mark Ellis
31 - 09/26/2005 - Jason Kendall
32 - 09/30/2005 - David Dellucci
33 - 09/30/2005 - Mark Teixeira
34 - 04/04/2006 - Ichiro Suzuki
35 - 04/21/2006 - Nick Swisher
36 - 05/02/2006 - Mark Ellis
37 - 06/04/2006 - Grady Sizemore
38 - 06/26/2006 - Todd Helton
39 - 08/25/2006 - Derek Jeter
40 - 08/30/2006 - Chris Snelling
41 - 08/30/2006 - Richie Sexson
42 - 09/05/2006 - Ramon Hernandez
43 - 04/07/2007 - Nick Swisher
44 - 05/27/2007 - Bobby Abreu
45 - 05/27/2007 - Doug Mientkiewicz
46 - 06/13/2007 - Ken Griffey
47 - 06/13/2007 - Brandon Phillips
48 - 06/18/2007 - Luke Scott
49 - 06/25/2007 - Joey Gathright
50 - 06/25/2007 - Alex Gordon
51 - 07/07/2007 - Derek Jeter
52 - 07/14/2007 - Frank Catalanotto
53 - 08/17/2007 - Manny Ramirez
54 - 09/02/2007 - Ramon Vazquez
55 - 05/25/2008 - Carlos Quentin
56 - 05/31/2008 - Matt Stairs
57 - 07/23/2008 - Asdrubal Cabrera
58 - 07/29/2008 - J.D. Drew
59 - 08/09/2008 - Jason Giambi
60 - 08/16/2008 - Ryan Garko
61 - 08/16/2008 - Kelly Shoppach
62 - 08/21/2008 - Denard Span
63 - 09/16/2008 - Cliff Pennington
64 - 09/26/2008 - Josh Hamilton
65 - 05/16/2009 - Ian Kinsler
66 - 05/23/2009 - Randy Wolf
67 - 05/23/2009 - Andre Ethier
68 - 05/23/2009 - Casey Blake
69 - 06/15/2009 - Nate Schierholtz
70 - 07/12/2009 - Jose Molina
71 - 07/29/2009 - Shin-Soo Choo
72 - 07/29/2009 - Victor Martinez

John Lackey breaks the Angels franchise record!

HBPs of Note: July 29, 2009

John Lackey entered yesterday's game just one hit-batter behind Chuck Finley for the Angels franchise record in the category of hitting batters. But, you had to have a good feeling that the record was going down, when he stepped onto the mound against the Indians, the most plunked team in the league. It didn't take him long either, hitting Shin-Soo Choo with two outs in the 1st inning to tie Finley, and following that up by hitting Victor Martinez to take sole possession of the Angels Franchise Record.

The Angels all time hit batters list now looks like this:
John Lackey (2002- ) - 72
Chuck Finley (1986-1999) - 71
Nolan Ryan (1972-1979) - 56
Frank Tanana (1973-1980) - 55
Mike Witt (1981-1990) - 48

(Please note, that's not the same Chuck Finley who's been hanging around Miami on TV, looking a lot like Bruce Campbell)

Adding to the historical significance of that game, Lackey's plunk of Shin-Soo Choo not only tied the Angels' record, but it also made Choo the most plunked Korean born player ever, with 17. He passed Hee Seop Choi. Choo has been hit 10 times this season, so he's already broken the Korean single season record as well.

In other Eastern Hemisphere news, Ryan Rowland-Smith threw the 100th plunk in Major League history delivered by an Australian pitcher.

Melvin Mora collected his 107th career HBP, moving him into a tie for 55th on the all time list, with Pete Rose and Wally Schang. Which makes this a good time to call for Bud Selig to put Wally Schang in the Hall of Fame! (yeah yeah, he'd have to be voted in by the veterans committee, or the special committee for old-timey players or something. But it's still easier to just demand action from whoever is in charge.)

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mark Loretta hits a batter?

HBPs of Note: July 28, 2009

The Dodgers pitching staff got roughed up by the Cardinals yesterday, which forced LA to bring in backup infielder Mark Loretta to pitch the final third of the 8th inning. But the interesting part is that he plunked Matt Holliday. He became the first position player to plunk a batter in a pitching appearance since Aaron Miles (of the Cards) hit Astro Cody Ransom on September 20, 2007. Loretta has been hit 71 times himself, which puts him in the HBP lead among active players who have also hit a batter. Only three players in baseball history who have hit a batter have been hit themselves more times than Loretta - Gary Gaetti (96), Jimmy Ryan (83 - plus 6 thrown), and Yank Robinson (75). Robinson and Ryan threw their plunks before the year 1900, so Gaeti and Loretta are the only modern players to hit a batter and get hit over 70 times. Among active players who have hit a batter, the previously mentioned Aaron Miles has the 2nd most HBPs himself, behing Loretta, with 9.

Loretta's plunk of Holliday was clocked at 78.3 MPH, which was only the 2nd slowest moving HBP of the night. Mike Gonzalez's pitch that hit John Baker only left his hand at 76.8 MPH.

In other news, Chase Utley got hit by a pitch for the 15th time this season, putting him back into a tie for first place in the 2009 plunk race. That was the 98th of Utley's career, and the 2nd contribution by Scott Schoeneweis.

Michael Cuddyer collected the 800th HBP by a batter born in 1979 yesterday, and some other things probably happened.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mora gets 106

HBPs of note: July 27, 2009

Eleven batters got hit by pitches yesterday, although only 9 pitchers hit them. Paul Bako becamse the 349th different batter to be hit at least once this season, and Bruce Chen brought the total number of pitchers who have hit someone this year to 399.

Melvin Mora got his 106th career HBP, provided by Bruce Chen. Mora has been hit 55 times at Camden Yards, which would give him the park record in all but 3 active parks in the league, but not at Camden Yards. He still needs to get hit 12 more times to pass Brady Anderson for the park. Carlos Delgado got hit by 61 pitches at Rogers Skydome, and Craig Biggio got hit 56 times at Minute Maid park. Larry Walker also got hit 55 times at Coors Field, but Mora is still just in 2nd place at his home park, even after 55.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Shoppach takes lead back

HBPs of Note: July 26, 2009

Mariners starter Jason Vargas was in a giving mood yesterday. Along with giving up 7 hits and 6 earned runs, he also contributed Ryan Garko's 10th plunk of the season, and Kelly Shoppach's 15th plunk of the season. That puts Shoppach back in first place in the 2009 HBP race, just ahead of Chase Utley. Prior to Saturday, only 15 batters had been plunked at Safeco Field, but four batters have been hit there in the past two days.

Jeff Weaver had hit 119 batters before yesterday, but none of them were named Hanley Ramirez, so he did that yesterday. Weaver's 120 career hit batters puts him in 35th place on the all time list - and by "the" all time list, of course that means "one" all time list, due to faulty record keeping in the early 20th and late 19th century on the pitching side of the HBP stats. Weaver hit Hanley Ramirez, which was on of 4 plunks in the Dodgers-Marlins game.

Burke Badenhop got tossed from that same Dodgers-Marlins game after plunking Orlando Hudson, but it might not have been an intentional plunk because Dodger Stadium has been the scene of 12 HBPs in the past week alone. Clearly there is some environmental factor causing this localized increase in HBP activity. Also, the umpire seemed to think Badenhop was retaliating for Weaver's plunking of Ramirez, or maybe even Jason Schmidt's plunking of Emilio Bonifacio, but the Dodgers were just trying to help the Marlins toward an important milestone. The Marlins have reached a franchise total of 987 times, and Marlins fans are probably on the edge of their seats waiting for that historic 1000th plunk in team history.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

some people get hit by some pitches

HBPs of note: July 25, 2009

Seven batters got hit by pitches yesterday, including Jason LaRue for his 105th career plunk and Reed Johnson for his 98th. Johnson's plunk was thrown by Johnny Cueto, who has hit Johnson twice now, and while hitting everyone else just 19 times.

Four of the seven pitchers who hit batters yesterday had first names that begin with the letter J, but no two of them had the same first name.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shin-Soo Choo ties Korean record

HBPs of note: July 24, 2009

Shin-Soo Choo took an HBP from Ryan Rowland-Smith last night, giving Choo a career total of 16. That ties Hee Seop Choi for the HBP record among batters born in Korea. Choo also got plunked yesterday. Adding Eastern-Hemisphere flavor to the Korean record tying plunk, Ryan Rowland-Smith is from Australia. That was the 99th major league plunk thrown by an Australian, and Rowland-Smith is 7th place on the Australian hit batters list with 5. He'll need to hit 19 more batters to surpass Graeme Lloyd's Australian record of 23.

Miguel Tejada got hit for the 105th time in his career, but it was the first contribution by Bobby Parnell. Tejada moves into 58th place on the all time list, ties with Melvin Mora and Dan Brouthers.

Brandon Inge got hit for the 11th time this season and 53rd time in his career, but it was also the 4th time he's been hit by Jose Contreras. Contreras is the all time leader in plunking Brandon Inge, and Inge is the all time leader in getting plunked by Contreras. The White Sox plunked 3 Detroit batters in that game at Comerica park - Inge, Placido Polanco and Ramon Santiago. Those three batters also happen to be the top 3 HBP leaders in Comerica park history.

Joba Chamberlain took the 2009 season lead for hitting batters, throwing his 11th plunk of the season.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Plunks that could have been walks

So far this season 930 batters have been hit by a pitch. 188 of them were hit by the first pitch of their plate appearance, but only 50 have been hit after already taking three balls. 20.2% of plunks occur on 0-0 counts, but there are a lot of 0-0 counts - 109,456 of them so through July 23rd this year. Pitches thrown on 0-0 counts have hit batters 0.17% of the time, while for some reason 0.24% of pitches thrown on 3 ball counts have hit the batter. And, since there have been 930 HBPs this year, on a total of 419,450 pitches, that means 0.22% (CORRECTION BELOW) of all pitches hit the batter they're thrown toward, but they hit the batter slightly more often when the guy already has 3 balls in the count. That is not exactly what you'd expect to find if you worked under the assumption that batters have more incentive to get out of the way when the pitch that's going to hit them is going to otherwise be ball 4. I can only assume this means batters have adopted the HBP as a way to prove their grittiness to the opposing pitcher, and they don't care if they're getting hit by ball 4 if it gets their message across. I like that theory better than the idea that maybe pitchers make more mistakes under the pressure of a 3 ball count, or the argument that it could just be a fluke of the data this year, and it's not that significant a difference.

50 batters have been hit on 3 ball counts this year, but only Josh Willingham has done it twice - both times on 3-2 counts. Last year Chris Iannetta failed to avoid getting plunked 3 times on 3 ball counts.

UPDATE 7/27/09: Turns out I had a problem in my original query to determine the number of pitches thrown on 3 ball counts, which foolishly excluded pitches that were the 4th ball. So, the real answer as of today is that only 0.13% of pitches thrown on 3 ball counts hit batters this season, which makes a whole lot more sense. I've fired my proofreader and fact checker, but they've obtained a court order forcing me to allow them to keep their jobs, sighting discrimination, which doesn't make any sense since they're all just me.

Kerry Wood plunks 90th

HBPs of Note: July 23, 2009

Kerry Wood threw the 90th HBP of his career yesterday, plunking Alex Rios. But, that was only the 6th time Kerry Wood his hit a batter on a Thursday. Among active pitchers with at least 90 career HBPs, only Vicente Padilla has a day of the week with less plunks than Wood's Thursday total. Padilla has hit 98 batters, but only 5 on Mondays.

Marc Rzepczynski hit a batter for the first time in his career, becoming the first pitcher whose name starts with the "Rz" letter combination to hit a batter.

Shin-Soo Choo got hit for the 15th time in his career, which leaves him 1 plunk behind Hee Seop Choi for the all time HBP record for batters born in Korea.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Brought to you by the number 50 and the letter G

HBPs of note: July 22, 2009

Ryan Garko collected his 50th HBP yesterady, thrown by Brandon Leagued, and Jon Garland threw his 50th career HBP at the previously unplunked Seth Smith. Brad Lidge threw his 30th at Andres Blanco, and Cla Meredith threw his 10th at Brett Gardner. But, Clay Buchholz also plunked Ian Kinsler, and that wasn't a multiple of 10 for either of their careers totals. And that's everything that happened yesterday.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Busy day in HBPs

HBPs of Note: July 21, 2009

It was a busy day for HBPs in the major leagues yesterday with 14 batters getting plunked. Manny Ramirez was the only one who did it wrong, taking one off the hand and being forced out of the game. He didn't break anything, but he's listed as day to day. That was the 98th of Manny's career, and was contributed by Homer Bailey.

Jose Guillen got hit by a pitch for the 131st time in his career, but remains in 36th place on the all-time list. He's 1 plunk behind Damion Easley, David Eckstein and Steve Brodie. Number 131 for Guillen was thrown by Ervin Santana, and ws the 40th of Santana's career. Also in that Royals-Angels game, David DeJesus got hit for the 37th time at Kauffman Stadium, which leaves him just 7 plunks away from the park record. He's been hit 63 times overall.

Jason LaRue didn't like having his career total tied by Aaron Rowand on Monday, so he got hit by his 104th pitch moving up with Miguel Tejada and Mark Grudzielanek into a tie for 60th place.

Reed Johnson got his 97th HBP, with Chase Utley looking on in Philadelphia. The two are tied again on the all time list, and perhaps locked in a race with Manny Ramirez to see who becomes the next batter to cross the 100 HBPs milestone. Johnson and Utley both started playing in the Majors in 2003, and while Utley has been accelerating his HBP pace for the past few years, Johnson has been slowing down as he's become more of a role-player with the Cubs. Johnson is the only player with an active streak of 6 consecutive years with 10 or more plunks, but he's only up to 5 this season. Aaron Rowand his been plunked in the double figures in 5 consecutive years.

Carlos Quentin got his 9th plunk of the season yesterday, after going unplunked since May 9th. He missed 47 games due to injury, but he's jumped right back in to the HBP race and will likely make a push toward the top of the list by the end of the year, if he can keep healthy.

And, Evan Longoria had an HBP which wasn't significant in HBP terms, but it did put him on base in the top of the 9th inning so he could score the go-ahead run, which turned out to be the game winner when the White Sox didn't come back in the bottom of the inning.

Aramis Ramirez
got his 70th career HBP, Oliver Perez threw his 50th, and Randy Wolf threw career plunk number 70.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

600th plunk at PNC Park

HBPs of note: July 20, 2009

It was a festive moment in Pittsburgh last night when Chris Smith of the Brewers plunked Jeff Karstens in the 8th inning. That marked the 600th HBP in PNC Park History, and players from both teams rushed out onto the field to celebrate. Karstens appear a little angry with it though, possibly because he had never thought to pick himself in the clubhouse "who will get the 600th plunk in PNC Park history" pool, because he'd never been plunked before and relief pitchers have only been hit by a pitch one other time this season. It was also Chris Smith's first career hit batter. Now the weird thing is that observers seemed to think this was some kind of payback for Karstens plunking Ryan Braun in an earlier game, and the players may have rushed onto the field in anger, but I think we can all agree on the real reason. Also in that game, Ryan Doumit got his 35th career HBP, which doubled as the 599th in park history.

In Los Angeles, Jason Schmidt pitched for the first time since June 16, 2007, and he also hit a batter for the first time since June 16, 2007. It had been a long road back for Jason Schmidt, but he had one great motivation - he was stuck on 49 career hit batters. But, he came back and pitched last night and plunked Ryan Hanigan in the 2nd inning, reaching the 50 HBP milestone, which I assume means he can retire in piece now. Maybe he'll stay until the end of the season, but you'd have to wonder what else he has to accomplish in the major leagues (although if he hits 19 more he can break the hit batters record for pitchers from Idaho, currently 68 by Larry Jackson). Also in that game, Matt Kemp got hit by Micah Owings bringing the all time HBP total at Dodger Stadium to 1,683, which is only interesting because the all time HBP total at Oakland Coliseum right now is also 1,683. That was also the 1800th known plunk to have been thrown by a pitcher born in Georgia.

Aaron Rowand recorded his 103rd HBP, which ties him with Hall-of-famer Tris Speaker, and not-quite-Hall-of-famer Jason LaRue on the all time list. Rowand is 10th on the 21st century HBP list, but he's still 47 plunks behind 21st century leader Jason Kendall, who has been hit 150 times since 2000.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Utley ties league lead

HBPs of note: July 19, 2009

Chase Utley got hit by another pitch yesterday, putting himself back into a tie for the Major League lead this season, and driving in a run in the process. Utley has been hit 14 times this season, tied with Chase Utley for the season lead, and he's now been hit 97 times in his career. Among those, he has now been plunked 3 times with the bases loaded. Andrew Miller threw the ball that hit Utley, and while he's only hit 15 batters in his career, he has now hit Utley twice.

The pitching side of the HBP race also saw some action yesterday, as Joba Chamberlain moved into a tie for the league lead with David Bush. They've both hit 10 batters this season. Chamberlain became the first Yankee since Randy Johnson in 2006 to hit 10 batters in a season.

Melvin Mora got his for the 105th time in his career, which ties him with Dan Brouthers for 58th place on the all time list. If he were in 58th place on the all time homers list he'd be around 381 homers and tied with Albert Belle, but he's not in 58th place on that list.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jason Hammel plunks several

HBPs of Note: July 18, 2009

Ten batters were hit by pitches yesterday, and 7 of them were NOT plunked by Jason Hammel. Hammel had only hit 6 batters in his career prior to yesterday, but he managed a 50% increase in his total by plunking Will Venable, Kyle Banks and Edgar Gonzalez of the Padres. He's the 5th pitcher to throw a 3 plunk game this season, and that was the first time since September 28, 2003 that a Rockies pitcher hit 3 batters in a game (also against the Padres, in an interesting coincidence). However, the Rockies' record for hit batters in a game is 4 by Pedro Astacio.

Baltimore rookie pitcher Brad Bergesen hit White Sox rookie batter Chris Getz with a pitch, which he also did in his debut on April 21st this year. That was the 5th career plunk for both Bergesen and Getz. Getz is tied with Adam Rosales for the HBP lead among rookie batters, while Bergesen is in a 5 way tie for the lead among rookies in plunks thrown.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

900th plunk at US Cellular Field

HBPs of note: July 17, 2009

Congratulations to Jermaine Dye of the White Sox, who won the contest to record the 900th plunk in US Cellular Field history. He won a free, all expense paid, trip to first base. To celebrate the occasion, Jim Thome hit a grand slam driving Dye in from first, so that's a nice way to commemorate at important milestone at your home park. But it wouldn't have been possible without Danys Baez to throw the plunk, and the 899 previous pitchers and batters who recorded HBPs at the White Sox ballpark. Of the 900 plunks at the park so far, 454 have hit White Sox batters while 444 have been thrown by the White Sox to their guests. That only adds up to 898 though, because in 2004, the Marlins where plunked twice in home games which were moved to Chicago due to Hurricane Frances. Interesting that US Cellular would record their 900th plunk the day after Nationals Park saw plunk #100.

In individual milestone news, Chris Carpenter threw his 60th plunk. He needs to throw 2 more to break the all time record for plunks thrown by pitchers named Chris, which is currently 61 by Chris Short.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Good parks to get hit by pitches in

Since yesterday saw the 100th HBP in Nationals Park history, it looks like a good time to re-visit which parks have been the most plunk-friendly.

It's one of the things that makes baseball interesting, compared to other sports (except maybe golf). Every ballpark has its own dimensions and quirks, leading to some parks being more hitter friendly and some parks slightly favoring the pitchers. It's usually pretty easy to spot those factors that effect most pitching and hitting stats, such as the distance of the fences, amount of foul ground, altitude of the park, and even wind patterns. But it's much more difficult to determine why some parks cause above average numbers of batters to get hit by pitches - I suspect abnormal wind patterns and tiny undocumented anti-gravity fields around the center of home plate which science does not yet have the tools to detect. (But I'll accept terrible pitching as a logical explanation too, and in some cases one or two home batters who are really good at getting hit could drive the park's numbers upward.)

There has been a lot of media time spent worrying about whether the New Yankee Stadium was built as a home run launching pad, where home runs have been getting hit at an unreasonable pace, but no one has yet mentioned that the new park is also causing batters to be hit at a rate about 1.8% greater than the rate since the 2000 season at the old Yankee Stadium. For the home run increase some have speculated that the installation of open concourses behind home plate have caused a wind tunnel effect pushing balls toward the outfield, but the HBP increase may have more to do with the installation, every 5 games, of Joba Chamberlain on the pitchers mound. By contrast Citi Field has caused players to get hit about 5.2% less frequently than the HBP rate for this decade at Shea Stadium.

Nationals Park, celebrating their 100th HBP yesterday, has been the 2nd most plunky park this season, behind the surprising rate of the Rangers home park. But Nationals Park has reduced plunks by 7.5% from the rate at the park it replaced - RFK Stadium. Still, John Lannan likes the new place so much he doesn't plunk people anywhere else.

Here are the 2009 HBP per plate appearance rates by ballpark:
ParkHBPsPAPA s per HBP
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington403,46886.7
Nationals Park373,43792.89
Citizens Bank Park383,55993.66
Yankee Stadium363,37593.75
Fenway Park353,40997.4
Busch Stadium323,262101.94
Rogers Centre323,282102.56
Turner Field313,325107.26
PETCO Park323,447107.72
Tropicana Field313,457111.52
U.S. Cellular Field293,248112
Miller Park313,494112.71
Wrigley Field303,438114.6
PNC Park252,921116.84
Great American Ball Park273,217119.15
Comerica Park253,000120
Progressive Field293,482120.07
Minute Maid Park303,630121
Citi Field283,467123.82
Dodger Stadium263,232124.31
Kauffman Stadium273,492129.33
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome293,756129.52
AT&T Park263,401130.81
Chase Field303,942131.4
Angel Stadium of Anaheim263,486134.08
Oriole Park at Camden Yards253,630145.2
Oakland Coliseum213,081146.71
Coors Field213,264155.43
Land Shark Stadium213,721177.19
Safeco Field143,277234.07


Here are the combined plunk rates by ballpark for the 2000 to 2009 season:

ParkHBPsPAPA s per HBP
RFK Stadium21718,65585.97
Tropicana Field68159,22486.97
PNC Park59853,09488.79
Citizens Bank Park39135,24290.13
Rogers Centre65459,58691.11
Yankee Stadium III363,37593.75
Great American Ball Park43341,20895.17
Busch Stadium II39137,32595.46
Yankee Stadium II58856,13895.47
County Stadium676,47996.7
Nationals Park1009,67896.78
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington63361,26296.78
Three Rivers Stadium666,39496.88
Fenway Park61960,20197.26
Tokyo Dome548797.4
Minute Maid Park60759,51198.04
Estadio Hiram Bithorn (P.R.)
343,38999.68
Land Shark Stadium59359,692100.66
U.S. Cellular Field58259,424102.1
Stade Olympique26627,689104.09
Coors Field58161,671106.15
Kauffman Stadium56160,354107.58
Oriole Park at Camden Yards55860,088107.68
Progressive Field54959,485108.35
Miller Park49453,659108.62
Veterans Stadium22924,957108.98
Wrigley Field54859,731109
Chase Field54260,350111.35
Busch Stadium III
19721,972111.53
Oakland Coliseum51758,948114.02
Riverfront Stadium16619,112115.13
Dodger Stadium50658,357115.33
Shea Stadium47655,876117.39
Angel Stadium of Anaheim50259,460118.45
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome49059,562121.56
Safeco Field48059,326123.6
Citi Field283,467123.82
Comerica Park46959,312126.46
PETCO Park26934,373127.78
Qualcomm Stadium (Jack Murphy)
19324,998129.52
Turner Field45859,446129.79
AT&T Park43659,467136.39
The Ballpark at Disney's
Wide World of long names
3479159.67


And just for fun, here are the total HBP rates by park since 1960:
ParkHBPsPAPA s per HBP
Tropicana Field82971,88686.71
PNC Park59853,09488.79
Citizens Bank Park39135,24290.13
Yankee Stadium III363,37593.75
Great American Ball Park43341,20895.17
Nationals Park1009,67896.78
Tokyo Dome548797.4
Minute Maid Park60759,51198.04
Estadio Hiram Bithorn343,38999.68
Rogers Centre1,217123,990101.88
Land Shark Stadium984101,263102.91
Coors Field87894,086107.16
Miller Park49453,659108.62
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington88297,497110.54
Busch Stadium III19721,972111.53
Chase Field62972,732115.63
Oriole Park at Camden Yards912107,520117.89
Mile High Stadium9310,993118.2
Progressive Field78294,753121.17
Safeco Field51062,515122.58
Citi Field283,467123.82
U.S. Cellular Field898112,997125.83
Comerica Park46959,312126.46
PETCO Park26934,373127.78
Polo Grounds9512,594132.57
Turner Field58777,856132.63
AT&T Park43659,467136.39
Kingdome986136,100138.03
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome1,210170,186140.65
Stade Olympique1,156163,263141.23
Kauffman Stadium1,563223,209142.81
RFK Stadium55679,621143.2
Fenway Park2,117306,747144.9
Oakland Coliseum1,681251,214149.44
Sick's Stadium (SEA)436,457150.16
Angel Stadium of Anaheim1,759264,966150.63
Colt Stadium (HOU)11417,996157.86
Parc Jarry (MON)31249,537158.77
The Ballpark at Disney's
Sporty World of ESPN
3479159.67
Arlington Stadium839133,973159.68
Astrodome1,319210,700159.74
Yankee Stadium II1,763283,697160.92
Connie Mack Stadium41466,647160.98
Tiger Stadium1,510243,139161.02
LA Memorial Coliseum7412,046162.78
Crosley Field39264,110163.55
Comiskey Park I1,131186,080164.53
Veterans Stadium1,222201,271164.71
Shea Stadium1,710283,531165.81
Busch Stadium II1,440241,759167.89
Municpal Stadium (KC)42773,616172.4
County Stadium1,283224,989175.36
Wrigley Field1,723306,353177.8
Metropolitan Stadium (MN)711127,784179.72
Dodger Stadium1,679309,363184.25
Three Rivers Stadium998183,990184.36
Candlestick Park1,309241,439184.45
Cleveland Stadium1,110207,652187.07
Exhibition Stadium (Tor)39674,141187.22
Forbes Field (PIT)33864,281190.18
Busch Stadium I19737,555190.63
Riverfront Stadium1,002197,035196.64
Qualcomm Stadium (SD)
1,035210,630203.51
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium906186,798206.18
Wrigley Field (LAA)316,526210.52
Memorial Stadium (BAL)
897191,478213.46
Aloha Stadium1214214
Griffith Stadium (WAS)5412,015222.5
Cashman Field (Las Vegas)1537537

Homer plunks Kendall.

HBPs of note: July 16, 2009

There were 2,378 pitches thrown toward batters yesterday, but only two of them hit those batters they were thrown toward. One of them was thrown by Homer Bailey and found the body of Jason Kendall. That was the 239th of Kendall's career, and his 21st with the Brewers. That was also the 30th time he's been hit on a Thursday in his career. Of the 820 players who have batted in the Majors this year, and who aren't Jason Kendall, only 122 of them have been hit by 30 pitches ever, but Kendall has that many just on Thursdays. For Homer Bailey, that was the 5th plunk of his career.

In Washington, Cubs starter Rich Harden threw yesterday's other plunk to Josh Bard. That was the 15th plunking of a Josh this season, but more importantly it was the 100th HBP in Nationals Park history. Congratulations on that important milestone, Washington!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Derek Jeter becomes 32nd batter plunked in the All-Star Game

HBPs of Note: July 14, 2009 - All-Star edition

Tim Lincecum plunked Derek Jeter in last night's All-Star, making that the 32nd HBP in All-Star game history. The last time a batter was hit by a pitch in the All-Star game was in 2004's edition, when Mark Mulder hit Scott Rolen. Jeter was the 11th batter to score a run after reaching base on an all-star plunk.

So, Lincecum is now in a 32 way tie for first place on the all time list of All-Star batters plunked, and Jeter is in a 32 way tie for most plunks in the All-Star game. No one has ever done it twice.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Endangered Records

It's the All-Star break, so that's always a good time to take a look at how the season is going with respect to available HBP records that players might be interested in breaking. We've already seen Chase Utley break the Phillies career record for getting plunked, and Dave Bush tied the Brewers career record for hitting batters. Jake Peavy of the Padres and John Lackey of the Angels are both 1 plunk away from tying the career records for their teams. But there are also a couple of opportunities for players to break their teams' single season record.

Kelly Shoppach is has the best shot at breaking a record - he's been hit 14 times already, and the Indians record is just 20, set in 2007 by Ryan Garko. If he keeps up his pace of HBPs per Indians game, he'll finish the year with somewhere around 26. Another surprising contender for a season record is Fernando Tatis for the Mets. He's been hit 8 times so far, but the Mets have the lowest single season record in baseball, so his projected total of 15 plunks would do it. Ron Hunt got hit 13 times for the 1963 Mets and John Olerud tied that total in 1997, but Met has ever taken more than 13 plunks for his team in a single season. Also in the "low hanging fruit" division, is the Tampa Bay Rays single season record. Jonny Gomes holds that with 14 in 2005, but Carlos Pena is on pace to come close to that. He's got 7 already, and while a linear projection leaves him 1 HBP short of a tie, plunks don't really behave linearly most of the time. Chase Utley could also break his year old Phillies single season plunk record if he picks up his pace just a little bit, and both Kevin Kouzmanoff and David Eckstein could threaten the Padres record, set last year by Kouzmanoff. On the other end of the list Ron Hunt (Nationals/Expos), Steve Evans (Cards), David Eckstein (Angels), Jason Kendall (Pirates), Don Baylor (Red Sox), Craig Biggio (Astros), and Tommy Tucker (Braves) can all rest assured that no one is touching their records this season. Of course Evans and Tucker are dead, but the rest of them can be reassured.

TeamRecord2009 Leader(s)Projected Total
IndiansRyan Garko (2007) - 20Kelly Shoppach - 1426
MetsRon Hunt (1963)
John Olerud (1997) - 13
Fernando Tatis - 815
RaysJonny Gomes (2005) - 14Carlos Pena - 713
PhilliesChase Utley (2008) - 27Chase Utley - 1325
PadresKevin Kouzmanoff (2008) - 15David Eckstein,
Kevin Kouzmanoff - 7
13
MarlinsCarlos Delgado (2005) - 17Cody Ross - 611
TigersBill Freehan (1968) - 24Brandon Inge - 917
A'sDon Baylor (1976),
Jason Kendall (2005)- 20
Jason Giambi - 713
White SoxMinnie Minoso (1956) - 23Carlos Quentin - 815
RangersAlex Rodriguez (2001) - 16Marlon Byrd - 48
DodgersHughie Jennings (1900) - 20Andre Ethier,
Juan Pierre - 6
11
RockiesEric Young (1996) - 21Chris Iannetta - 611
RoyalsDavid DeJesus (2007) - 23Jose Guillen - 713
BrewersFernando Vina (1998) - 25Ryan Braun - 815
MarinersJose Guillen (2007) - 19Russell Branyan - 59
DiamondbacksAndy Fox (1998) - 18Augie Ojeda - 47
YankeesDon Baylor (1985) - 24Mark Teixeira - 713
CubsBill Dahlen (1898) - 23Milton Bradley - 510
GiantsRon Hunt (1970) - 26Aaron Rowand - 713
Blue JaysShea Hillenbrand (2005) - 22Alex Rios - 59
OriolesBrady Anderson (1999) - 24Adam Jones - 59
RedsJason LaRue (2004) - 24Adam Rosales - 59
TwinsKid Elberfeld (1911) - 25Denard Span - 59
BravesTommy Tucker (1891) - 29Yunel Escobar - 611
AstrosCraig Biggio (1997) - 34Miguel Tejada - 815
Red SoxDon Baylor (1986) - 35Kevin Youkilis - 815
PiratesJason Kendall (1997, 1998) - 31Andy LaRoche - 611
AngelsDavid Eckstein (2002) - 27Torii Hunter,
Jeff Mathis,
Maicer Izturis,
Erick Aybar,
Howie Kendrick,
Mike Napoli - 3
6
CardinalsSteve Evans (1910) - 31Albert Pujols,
Joe Thurston,
Ryan Ludwick,
Khalil Greene,
Rick Ankiel,
Colby Rasmus - 3
5
NationalsRon Hunt (1971) - 50Josh Willingham - 816


On the pitching side of things, the closest player to a record breaking pace for plunks in a single season is Dave Bush of the Brewers. He needs to hit 10 more batters to tie Jamey Wright's single season Brewers record, but he's currently on the Disabled List. Tim Wakefield has an outside shot at reaching the 20 plunk mark if he picks up his pace, which could tie him with Bronson Arroyo and Howard Emke. But, no Major League pitcher has hit 20 batters since Arroyo's 2004 spree. The Royals have a pretty fragile looking record at just 13, but Jamey Wright leads the team with 5 this year. Perhaps if he gets promoted to the starting rotation for some reason, he might be able to get enough innings of work to find 9 more batters who don't want to get out of the way of his pitches. Beyond that, there's little hope of any of this years pitchers breaking a single season record. And, that total of 41 by Joe McGinnity for the Dodgers is probably impossible the way the game is currently played - it's be tough not to set an ejections record in the process if someone tried.

TeamRecord2009 Leader(s)Projected Total
BrewersJamey Wright (2001) - 20David Bush - 1019
Red SoxHoward Ehmke (1923),
Bronson Arroyo (2004) - 20
Tim Wakefield - 917
RoyalsMike Boddicker (1991),
Jim Colborn (1977),
Zack Greinke (2005),
Pedro Astacio (1998) - 13
Jamey Wright - 59
RockiesPedro Astacio (1998) - 17Ubaldo Jimenez - 611
RangersCharlie Hough (1987) - 19Kevin Millwood,
Vicente Padilla - 7
13
NationalsRamon Ortiz (2006) - 18John Lannan - 612
PadresMatt Clement (2000) - 16Chad Gaudin - 59
White SoxClark Griffith (1902),
Jim Scott (1909) - 16
John Danks - 47
AstrosJack Billingham (1971),
Darryl Kile (1996) - 16
Roy Oswalt,
Russ Ortiz - 4
7
MetsPedro Astacio (2002) - 16Sean Green - 47
YankeesJack Warhop (1909) - 26Joba Chamberlain - 917
MarinersRandy Johnson (1992) - 18Felix Hernandez - 59
AngelsTom Murphy (1969) - 21John Lackey - 611
CubsNixey Callahan (1899) - 24Carlos Marmol - 714
DiamondbacksRandy Johnson (2001) - 18Max Scherzer - 47
OriolesBarney Pelty (1904) - 20Jeremy Guthrie - 59
TwinsWalter Johnson (1923),
Bill Carrick (1901),
Case Patten (1904) - 20
Francisco Liriano,
Kevin Slowey - 5
9
RaysVictor Zambrano (2003) - 20Jeff Niemann,
Matt Garza - 5
9
Blue JaysChris Carpenter (2001) - 16Brian Tallet,
Brandon League,
Jesse Carlson,
Brett Cecil,
Ricky Romero - 3
5
PiratesPink Hawley (1897) - 27Ross Ohlendorf - 713
MarlinsDontrelle Willis (2006) - 19Hayden Penn,
Josh Johnson,
Brian Sanches,
Chris Volstad,
Sean West - 2
4
PhilliesJack Taylor (1897) - 28Chad Durbin,
Jamie Moyer - 7
13
TigersHoward Ehmke (1922) - 23Armando Galarraga,
Justin Verlander - 3
6
IndiansOtto Hess (1906) - 24Carl Pavano,
Cliff Lee,
Fausto Carmona - 3
6
CardinalsWillie Sudhoff (1898) - 27Brad Thompson - 59
BravesVic Willis (1898, 1899) - 30Kenshin Kawakami,
Mike Gonzalez - 5
9
GiantsEd Doheny (1899) - 37Barry Zito - 713
RedsWill White (1884) - 35Bronson Arroyo,
Edinson Volquez,
Micah Owings,
Johnny Cueto - 5
9
A'sChick Fraser (1901) - 32Edgar Gonzalez,
Brett Anderson,
Trevor Cahill - 3
6
DodgersJoe McGinnity (1900) - 41Chad Billingsley - 611

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Lackey one away from Angels record

HBPs of note : July 12, 2009

Angels starter John Lackey beat the Yankees yesterday, which is always nice, but he also hit Jose Molina with a pitch. That's generally not considered to be nice, but it was significant. It was the 70th plunk John Lackey has ever thrown, and the Angels career franchise record currently stands at 71 by Chuck Finley. However, Lackey ought to be careful because Dave Bush tied the Brewers career record for plunks earlier this season, and has been on the DL ever since. AND, Jake Peavy has been stuck on the disable list ever since he got within 1 hit batter of the Padres career record.

Jason Bay got hit twice yesterday, bringing his career total to 43. That was his first multi-plunk game since August 18, 2005. Bay is the 2nd most plunked player in baseball history whose last name starts with Bay. (Bay reached base four consecutive times yesterday without bothering to swinging his bat. He didn't actually use his bat until the 8th inning, when he missed once, fouled off two pitches, and then got plunked for the 2nd time.)

Jose Guillen got hit for the 130th time in his career. He's the all time HBP leader from the Dominican Republic, and has a 26 plunk lead on Miguel Tejada among his countrymen.

Miguel Cabrera got his 30th career HBP.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Utley plunked 96 times (not all in one game - that'd be a record)

HBPs of Note: July 11, 2009

Chase Utley collected his 13th HBP of the 2009 season yesterday, bringing him within one of this year's plunk leader, Kelly Shoppach. But Shoppach hasn't been plunked since June 15th so the momentum may have swung back in Utley's favor in the HBP race. That was also Utley's 96th career HBP, which leaves him tied for 75th all time with Gary Gaetti, Reggie Jackson, Geoff Jenkins, and Reed Johnson. That was also Chase Utley's 40th plunk at Citizens Bank Park. 10.2% of plunks recorded at Citizens Bank Park have been Utleys.

Jason Giambi also got plunked yesterday, and that's 164 for him. He's still the third most plunked lefty ever and the most plunked lefty ever born in California. But, Chase Utley is the 4th most plunked left-handed Californian, so if he continues his pace from the last few season, he should have no problem surpassing Giambi by the time Utley finishes his career.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

238 for Kendall

HBPs of Note: July 11, 2009

Jason Kendall got hit by another pitch yesterday, bringing his career total to 238. He just needs 50 more to break the all time record, but he probably won't make it this season. Chad Billingsley contributed this one, and it was Kendall's 42nd recorded on a Friday. Kendall needs 5 more to tie Ron Hunt for 5th place on the all-time list. For Billingsley, it was the 20th plunk he's thrown in the majors.

5 other batters were hit by a pitch yesterday but their combined career totals of all of them add up to only 31% of Kendalls career plunks. If you throw in the plunks thrown by the pitchers who hit someone yesterday, you get up to about two thirds of Kendall's total.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Twins streak broken at 25

HBPs of Note: July 9, 2009

Mike Redmond got hit by an Alfredo Aceves pitch in Minnesota yesterday, which wouldn't have been that significant itself, but it broke the Twins 25 game plunkless streak. That was the third longest plunk-free streak for a team this century, and it may have been longer if some jerk blogger hadn't jinxed the whole thing by mentioning it on the internet. It was the 53rd career plunk for Redmond.

Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham received career plunk number 50 yesterday, contributed by Astros pitcher Russ Ortiz. He's the 4th player to reach the 50 plunk milestone this season.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Revenge of the Chads

HBPs of Note: July 8, 2009

Chad Durbin threw two plunks yesterday for the Phillies, and Chad Gaudin added one more for the Padres, which means that pair of Chads tied the all time record for most plunks thrown by guys named Chad in a single day. Remarkably, the last time three batters were plunked by Chads was exactly 8 years ago, on July 8, 2009. On that day, Chad Durbin did it all himself, plunking 3 batters against the Astros (two of them were Craig Biggio). Durbin is now the active leader in plunking people on July 8th with 5 - out of a career total of 36, so that's kind of weird.

The only other day three batters were plunked by Chads was September 22, 1998 when Chad Ogea hit three Yankees. Prior to 1996, the only season in which Chads threw at least 3 plunks was 1933 when Chad Kimsey hit 4 batters in 2 starts and 26 relief appearances. (There's a tiny chance he threw them all in one game, but hardly worth considering). Chads have hit 18 batters so far this season, so they have a reasonable shot at breaking the single season record for combined plunks by Chads, which is 32 in 2007. And Chad Durbin has hit 7 batters already, so he has a great chance of breaking the single season individual Chad record for plunks, which he already owns with 11 in 2001.

Chad Durbin's first plunk yesterday was the 35th of his career, and the 30th for Brandon Phillips. Also in non-Chad related news, Carlos Pena got his 45th career HBP yesterday, and Robinson Cano got his 20th. Pena's was also his 15th at Tropicana Field. Johnny Gomes holds the park record with 26, while Rocco Baldelli is 2nd with 17 plunks at Tropicana. Pena is third.


The Minnesota Twins have now gone 25 consecutive games without being plunked. They're only the third team this century to accomplish that non-feat - the Reds went 26 plunkless games last year, and the Padres dodged all pitches for 31 straight games in 2002.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Inge reaches 51

HBPs of note: July 7, 2009

Brandon Inge was just standing around the Comerica Park batters box, waiting for a pitch he could hit with his baseball bat, when all of a sudden, BAM - Robinson Tejada hits him with a pitch. Can you believe that? That's the 9th time that's happened this year, giving him sole possession of 3rd place in the majors this season. It was also the 26th time Inge has been plunked at Comerica Park, which is the park record. Inge has been hit 51 times in all, but he needs 7 more to break the HBP record for players with a four letter last name that begins and ends in a vowel (currently 57 by Filipe Alou).

Eric Bedard hit Nick Markakis, which means that Bedard has thrown 30 of the 994 known plunks to be thrown by Canadians.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to make the All Star game cool again.

We interrupt our normal coverage of people getting hit by pitches and other generally useless stats to bring you an idea. It might not be new, but I don't remember ever reading it and certainly haven't seen it brought up recently. So, you heard it here first, unless you heard it someplace else before.

The 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is a week away, and everyone seems to agree that it's not the big deal it used to be. The mistaken assumption from MLB was that the players didn't care about it enough to play hard, or show up in some cases, so they had the idea to give home field advantage in the World Series to the winner. Bud Selig is probably the only person left who thinks that idea worked, or was a good idea in the first place. The point isn't necessarily to make the game meaningful, but to make it interesting I think. To make it something you talk about and remember from year to year, rather than a hole in the middle of the season when most people are just interested in seeing their team get back to its schedule and its playoff race, or its trade rumoring, or its dramatic talk-radio fueling front office ineptitude.

But here's how we can make it interesting and fun and open up all kinds of discussion and debate (without even adding an All Star HBP contest, which would obviously be brilliant, but still not help improve the game itself). Keep voting for starters and selection of reserves the way it is now - that's not a problem. Keep voting by position and by league and the "final vote" gimmick, and the selection of reserves by manager. That's all fine. Then Monday night, the night before the game, maybe before the home run derby, we bring all the All Stars out into the infield, with the American League manager and the National League manager, and grab the top vote getter from each league. So this year it would be Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. An Umpire hands them a bat, and they do the hand over hand thing - and the guy whose hand lands on the top of the bat knob gets first pick. At this point, other than the AL leading vote getter being paired with the AL manager, all league loyalty is out the window, and the Captains choose team school yard style. Just one by one, until everyone has been chosen. If one team ends up with 5 shortstops, so be it - we can make fun of the captains for the next year for picking such a dumb team. And to correct any serious roster imbalances, they have a day to work trades with the opposing team, and if the league has to push a trade to make sure each team has enough pitchers and catchers that's fine.

Think of the drama of the selection process - would players pick their friends and teammates first, or would they go all out to win, picking the best players regardless of personal loyalty? Would intra-team rivalries be exposed, like maybe if Alex Rodriguez were involved this year and Jeter passed him over in favor of Youkilis? Would a captain make a bold statement against his front office by picking a recently departed form teammate over the high priced free agent brought in to replace him? Who would be the last player picked, and would that moment ruin his career, or inspire him to make the game winning hit or shut-down relief appearance? The captains would be able to consult their teams' manager, but otherwise they'd have to wing it standing out their on the field in front of a full house. If they don't notice that Pedroia is hiding behind Ryan Howard and they forget to pick him, there will be no do-overs. And if they pick an unbalanced roster, and can't fix it with trades, leaving a couple of guys playing out of position, that's all the more fun for us to watch. Given how much the baseball fan world loves fantasy baseball and the idea of drafts, and just mixing up the teams to make your own, I think this event of choosing up sides for the All-Star game would bring in fantastic TV ratings.
And the buzz created with potential blockbuster dream trades between the team selection show and the game the following night would be epic. Blog server farms would burst into flames throughout the country.

Also, think of the marketing potential. All-star jersey's are pretty generic from year to year - they change them, but do most people really identify them with anything? But in my version of the 2009 game, instead of National League jerseys and American League jerseys, we'd have specially design ones for Jeter's team and Pujols' team. They probably know the leading vote getters far enough in advance to produce specific jerseys like that, and perhaps even include fan voting for the team name. So you could get your 2009 Jeter's Juicers jersey or 2009 Pujols Enhanced Performers jersey, if those were the names fans voted for instead of ones that are funny insted of just sarcastic and cynical. Even if they just went with "Team Jeter" vs "Team Pujols" it would still be more memorable than the AL vs NL thing, and maybe 5 years from now you'd see one of those items of merchandise from this years game and clearly remember the year Jeter's team played Pujols' team and how interesting it was to see Joe Nathan close the game by shutting down Justin Morneau, because that's just the way the teams were picked. Then again, maybe Nathan would grove one for his teammate for a game winning walk-off and refuse to admit it in the post game, while creating a career long feud with whichever player was his team captain. The potential for drama is so far above the current formula, it couldn't be contained by a hundred fiberglass Metrodome roofs.

One possible option would be to have the team captains be voted on separately, which could give the league the chance to put the captaincy up as a lifetime achievement award (endorsed by the fans voting) for guy in their retirement years, or special situations like that. Having Pujols as captain when the game is in St. Louis would be such a nice touch, they might want to encourage a home team captain every year by including a home team all-star in the voting options each year.

The specifics can be adjusted if needed, but the most important feature is just letting the group of guys pick teams the same way they would if it was a bunch of kids on a vacant lot. None of the other oft-debated features of the game would really matter after that. They could keep the World Series home field tie-in if they wanted to, and leave the DH rules the way they are, because we'd all be busy dissecting the guys each captain picked, and the order in which they were picked, and which teammates got split up. And at least their would be two players - the captains - who would probably be pretty competitive about who won or lost the game, since their name would be forever associated with that all star team.

I think this would make baseball's All-Star game easily the best All-Star game in sports, at least until the NBA puts in an all-star game rule were each basket is scored on style points. So if anyone is working on a plan to kidnap Bud Selig in the near future, please make this one of your demands. And if he seems open to it, push for my dream of the All Star Hit by Pitch contest.

Monday reaches 96

HBPs of note: July 6, 2009

Five batters were hit by pitches yesterday, bringing the total batters plunked on Monday this season to 96. That's the fewest of any day of the week this year. Last year only 90 batters had been plunked on Mondays by July 6th.

Alex Rodriguez was among those 5 batters plunked yesterday, bringing his career total to 146, but he still needs 5 more to tie Chet Lemon for 19th on the all time list. His Yankee teammate Johnny Damon also got plunked, for the 41st time in his career, but he still needs 17 more to pass Pat Meares as the most plunked player of all time who was born in Kansas. Damon already has the Kansas record for career hits and stolen bases. And a third Yankee, Eric Hinske got his 25th career HBP.

The Yankees 3 plunks yesterday put them in a tie with Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia for the most plunks on Mondays. They've each been hit 6 times on Monday.

UPDATE: Johnny Cueto's plunking of Pedro Feliz on Monday was the 5,000th plunk thrown by a pitcher in the National League Central Division.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Independance weekend plunks

HBPs of note: July 5, 2009

Only 5 batters were hit by pitches yesterday, and the most plunked among them was Alex Cora. He was only hit once yesterday, but he's put together a career total of 84 plunks, including the latest contribution by JC Romero. BJ Upton also got plunked yesterday, which was only his 9th career HBP, but it was the 2nd time in his career he's been plunked by Scott Feldman.

On Saturday, Kevin Kouzmanoff got his 32nd career HBP, leaving him just 3 away from the Padres career franchise record (currently 35 by Gene Tenace).

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Friday, July 3, 2009

5 plunks in Pittsburgh

HBPs of Note: July 2, 2009

The Mets and Pirates plunked each other 5 times at PNC park yesterday, making that just the 2nd game with 5 plunks this year. Those 5 plunks were thrown by five different pitchers, making it the first time five pitchers hit a batter in a single game since August 15, 2007 - which was also a Mets-Pirates game at PNC park. Fernando Tatis got plunked twice for the Mets, including a 10th inning HBP that put him on base to score the go-ahead run. If they'd managed to hit each other twice more in the game, one lucky player would receive the 600th plunk in PNC Park history.

Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres got hit by the 15th pitch of his career yesterday, but Houston pitcher Alberto Arias might have just been trying to kill a bee that might have landed on Gonazalez.

Javier Vasquez threw his 77th career hit batter yesterday, which leaves him 3 away from the all time record for pitchers born in Puerto Rico, behind Omar Olivares.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

A hello to arms

So far this season, there have been 77 pitchers who made their major league debut. 40 of them have hit at least one batter, for a total of 68 plunks by debut year pitchers. (I'm using the term "debut year" rather than "rookie" because MLB's definition of "rookie" is complicated and guys can be rookies in several different seasons.) The total plunks by debut year pitchers is not outstanding this year, but the number of new pitchers who have hit someone is the 2nd most in the last 20 years as of July 1, behind only 2006. The 2006 season had a bumper crop of debut pitchers with 47 of them hitting at least one batter by July 1, and a total of 94 plunks by debut pitchers by that date. In 2006, 67% of players who made their major league debut before 7/1 were pitchers - this year we're up to 68%, although last year it was a 50-50 split.

But this illustrates a disturbing demographic trend - major league baseball is churning through more and more pitchers in search of effective arms. We may reach the point by around 2025 where half of the under-50 population of America will be able to claim to be a failed major league relief pitcher, and they'll probably all open friendly bars in Boston where everybody knows your name.

It's true that teams balance out their call-ups somewhat during the course of the season though - from 1995 to 2008, 58.2% of debuts in the first 3 months of the season are by pitchers, but in September when the rosters expand, 58.3% of players who debut then are position players. But overall, since 1995, 55% of players who made their major league debut have been pitchers - which sounds awfully strange if you look at the number of pitchers in a baseball lineup on a given day, or the number of pitchers on a 25 man roster on a given day. Since most rosters only contain around 40% pitchers, the explanation is that the pitchers are not staying in the league for long, and need to be replaced at a higher rate. Oddly though, the Cardinals have been carrying 13 pitchers this season, and the Angels have somehow managed to have 22 players pitch for them this season, but only 20 players bat for them. It's unlikely they'll finish the season like that, but if they do, it'll be a first. Nobody since 1902 has had the total players who pitched for their team come within 10 of the number of players who batted.

Jeter vs Eckstein

HBPs of Note: July 1, 2009

There were only 6 HBPs in yesterday's baseball action, but there were a couple of relatively big numbers achieved. Derek Jeter got his 141st career HBP and David Eckstein got his 132nd. Jeter continues to be the Yankess all time leader in getting hit by pitches, as well as the most plunked player ever born in New Jersey - but still, he'll need to play another 15 seasons at his present rate to catch Craig Biggio or contend for the all time plunk record. I'm sure Yankees fans would be happy to have him playing shortstop until he's 50 though. David Eckstein got hit by a pitch for the 132nd time in his career, which leaves him 1 plunk behind Jason Kendall for the David Eckstein Era HBP lead. Kendall has been hit 133 times since Eckstein came into the league. Jeter has only been hit 92 times since Eckstein's rookie year, and more interestingly, Derek Jeter won 4 world series rings prior to Eckstein coming into the league in 2001, but since then he has won none, while Eckstein has won the World Series twice, and the World Series MVP trophy once. Eckstein also holds the post-season record for HBPs. This would be a much bigger deal (or at least vaguely relevant information) if the team that originally drafted Eckstein had not waived him before he reached the majors - that being the Red Sox. Eckstein is on pace to contend for the all time plunk record sometime around 2020 if he can continue his HBP pace and continue to find baseball teams willing to employ him for that long. Unfortunately, he'll be 45 years old by then.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Youuuuk gets 50

HBPs of note: June 30, 2009

Kevin Youkilis was hit by George Sherrill last night, bring Youk's career total to 50. He's the 10th player to get plunked 50 times for the Red Sox, and is 1 behind Dwight Evans on the Boston franchise list. He's still behind Jason Varitek among active Red Sox, and Varitek was also plunked last night for his 57th.

Miguel Tejada got his 103rd plunk - he's tied for 61st all time with Tris Speaker and Jason Larue. Alfonso Soriano got his 65th, and Vlad Guerrero got his 84th career plunk.

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