As you may have heard, San Diego’s Kevin Kouzmanoff has been hit by 12 pitches this season, leaving him just 1 misplaced pitch away from tying the Padres’ single season franchise record. Kouzmanoff has been plunked by 12 different pitchers, in 12 different games, against 11 different teams so far this season but since we’re just reaching the all-star break, he has plenty of time to add to his totals. This is just his 3rd season in the majors, his 2nd with Padres, and he’s already more than half way to the Padres’ career franchise record. Kouzmanoff has 22 for his career, all while playing for San Diego, and that puts him 6th on the Padres career plunk leaderboard; 13 away from the top spot.
He probably won’t have it much longer, but Gene Tenace has held the Padres single season record since 1977, when he got hit by 13 pitches. He broke the prior record of 11, set by Al Ferrara in 1970. Ferrara’s 1970 campaign broke his own record of 9, set in 1969, which was the year the Padres joined the league. So assuming Kouzmanoff can get hit a couple more times, he’ll be in a pretty small group, among players who have held the Padres single season HBP record. The only other franchises who have, until this year, had so few holders of their single season plunk record are the Nationals and the Diamondbacks. The Nationals started life as the Expos 1969, and had their record initialized by Mack Jones with 15, and shattered by Ron Hunt‘s 50 in 1971. The Diamondbacks had Andy Fox take 18 for their team in their first season of operation in 1998, and haven’t had anyone since then take that record away.
Perhaps the most important result of Kouzmanoff’s season for the Padres is getting them out of their last place tie with the Mets for the lamest single season franchise plunk record in the league. But at least the Mets have had 2 batters reach 13 plunks in a season (Ron Hunt and John Olerud are tied for their record). Since the Padres came into the league in 1969, 95 different players have had seasons better than 13 hbps and those 95 done it 182 times, for every franchise in the league other than the Padres and Mets. Since 1969, the Padres are dead last in the majors in plunks per game and plunks per plate appearance. But Kevin Kouzmanoff is there now, and finally the Padres fans have someone in the batters box who isn’t going to dive out of the way every time a pitch threatens to brush his uniform.
If you’re one of those people who thinks it doesn’t matter if a team has a guy who gets hit a lot, think about this: The last 11 World Series have been won by a team that had at least one player with 12 or more plunks that season. So the Padres may be in last place, but at least they’ve met one criteria for a World Series title, thanks to Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Padres best single season HBP totals, as of 7/10/08
*as of 7/10/08
Padres career HBP leaders as of 7/10/08
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