Jason Giambi is currently leading the league in getting hit by pitches, but you know whose been hit more times than him? Carlos Delgado. Delgado is 2nd among active players in career HBPs, and he’s the leader among left handed batters. The list of left handed batters who have been hit by as many pitches as Carlos Delgado is pretty short – there’s Carlos Delgado at 166, and there’s Jake Beckley at 183. But Jason Giambi is moving up the list quickly – he’s third among after players with 149 plunks, and behind only Delgado among lefties. Delgado and Giambi both play first base, they both play in New York, they’re both left handed, they might both be free agents after this season, they’re nearly the same age, they’ve both been plunked 7 times by pitchers born in Pennsylvania, and there’s a good chance one of them will finish his career as the best left handed plunk magnet ever. But which left handed New York first baseman is best?
Carlos Delgado has played 159 more games than Giambi, and he’s had 741 more plate appearances. In terms of plate appearances per hbp, they’re nearly even – Delgado’s been hit once every 50.0 plate apperances and Giambi’s been hit once every 50.7 plate appearances. Carlos Delgado has been hit by 28 different franchise to only 26 for Giambi, but Giambi has had 6 games in which he got hit twice, to only 2 for Delgado. Giambi has been hit by pitchers from 10 different countries and 27 US states, but Delgado has been hit by pitchers from 11 countries, and 35 different US states.
Jason Giambi has never been hit by a pitcher whose last name begins with the letter I or V, but Delgado has. Delgado has never been hit by a pitch thrown by someone whose last name starts with N, but Giambi has. Neither has been hit by a pitcher with the last initial Q, U, or X. Giambi has been hit 81 times by pitchers with an even number of letters in their last names, but Delgado has 88 such plunks.
Jason Giambi only really started getting hit by a lot of pitches after he joined the Yankees – he only had 38 with the A’s and he’s had 101 since selling out to the Yankees. He’s only in his 7th season with the Yankees, but he’s already in third place on their franchise career plunk list, behind only Derek Jeter and Frank Crosetti (neither of whom are left handed). Delgado did most of his getting hit by pitches before moving to New York – he already had 139 plunks before joining the Mets, and he still owns the Blue Jays franchise record with 122 HBPs for them. He’s now in his 3rd season their, with only 27 plunks for the franchise, but that’s still good for 8th on the Mets career plunk list. Delgado’s move to the National League is a big reason why he’s only been hit by 9 pitches while Jason Varitek was the catcher, and Giambi has been hit 15 times with Varitek behind him, calling pitches. Also, both Giambi and Delgado have led the American League in HBPs in one season, but Giambi has led all left handed batters in both leagues in 3 seasons. Neither has ever led the majors in plunks for a season.
Here’s a breakdown of some of their most important plunk splits:
|vs pitchers with an
even number of letters
in their last names
|vs Pitchers from
So you can see from that list that Giambi has 3 more RBI plunks, but Delgado has come around to score a run one more time on occasions he’s reached first on a plunk. But with all these numbers, we still can’t overlook the fact that Giambi’s numbers are tainted by his admitted use of BALCO brand performance enhancing drugs. I think it’s pretty obvious how much steroid use can increase a batters ability to get hit by major league pitching, but on the other hand he’s having an excellent season this year under the scrutiny of the MLB drug testing policy. The other important factor here is that both Giambi plays for what is clearly the most evil team in baseball, and Delgado only plays for, arguably, the second most evil team in baseball. That gives a big edge to Delgado in my book.