Archive for December, 2008

Plunk Biggio – the lost episodes – plunks while on base

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

From 1986 through the 2008* season, there have been 22,397 runners on base when the batter got hit by a pitch. 167 of them were on base when Craig Biggio got hit by a pitch, but since Biggio got hit so many times as a leadoff batter, he is only 2nd in this time period (the Jamie Moyer era) in this category. Jason Kendall has had 186 runners on base when he’s been hit by pitches.

But, when Craig Biggio has been on base, batters at the plate were hit 95 times, showing once again that Craig Biggio’s mere presence causes batters to get hit by pitches. Here are the top 10 in the category of most batters plunked while on base:

Craig Biggio (1988-2007) – 95
Chipper Jones (1995-2008) – 86
Bobby Abreu (1997-2008) – 78
Brian Giles (1996-2008) – 76
Alex Rodriguez (1996-2008) – 75
John Olerud (1989-2004) – 74
Barry Bonds (1986-2007) – 74
Carlos Delgado (1996-2008) – 73
Omar Vizquel (1989-2007) – 72
Johnny Damon (1996-2008) – 71

And Biggio didn’t even have the obvious advantage of being on base when Craig Biggio was batting.

Not surprisingly, batters were hit most often when Biggio was standing on 2nd base. Hitting 668 doubles and stealing 414 bases probably helped there, but batters were hit 41 times while Biggio was the runner on 2nd base, 35 times when he was on 1st and 19 when he was on third. Biggio leads the 2nd base category and is tied for most-batters plunked while standing on 3rd with Omar Vizquel and Bernie Williams (for the 1986-2008 time period), but John Olerud has been on first for the most HBPs, with 47.

Also not surprising, Craig Biggio leads this time frame in most times on base while a single batter got hit by pitches – Jeff Bagwell was plunked 33 times while Biggio was on base. The next closest pair of teammates are Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi – Giambi’s been plunked 21 times with Jeter on base, and somewhat amazingingly, in just 1986 and 87, Don Baylor was hit 20 times with Jim Rice on base (it probably happened more in 1985, but those numbers aren’t conveniently available at the moment). Jeter and Alex Rodrigue$ are the leaders among active pairs, with 18. Brad Ausmus holds the record for being on base while Biggio got plunked, with 16.

* – 1986 to 2008 is a convenient time period to work with because it’s the one I’ve collected data for, and it covers the entire career of every active player, which is why I like to call it the Jamie Moyer era.

Catchers

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

They don’t call the pitcher and catcher “battery mates” for nothing. For every pitch that flies into the body of a batter, there was a catcher who called that pitch and it’s location. The ball doesn’t always end up exactly where the catcher wanted it, but those guys behind the plate have some control over the situation. So, which catchers were behind the plate for the most plunks in 2008?
Here’s the top 20:

Catcher Total HBPs Distinct Batters Pitchers
Ramon Hernandez (BAL) 58 44 18
Bengie Molina (SFN) 51 41 17
Geovany Soto (CHN) 49 43 15
Brian Schneider (NYN) 45 39 12
Jason Varitek (BOS) 44 37 10
Kurt Suzuki (OAK) 43 40 20
Chris Snyder (ARI) 43 34 13
Jason Kendall (MIL) 39 33 11
Gerald Laird (TEX) 38 30 12
A.J. Pierzynski (CHA) 38 32 12
Yadier Molina (SLN) 37 32 15
Russell Martin (LAN) 36 30 14
Paul Bako (CIN) 35 32 10
Dioner Navarro (TBA) 35 25 12
Jeff Mathis (ANA) 34 31 11
Rod Barajas (TOR) 34 31 12
Gregg Zaun (TOR) 33 30 12
Carlos Ruiz (PHI) 33 30 12
Chris Iannetta (COL) 32 30 14
John Buck (KCA) 31 27 13

Ramon Hernandez led the majors, enjoying a close up view of 58 hit batters on the season. That’s a career high for the Baltimore backstop, and the first time he’s led the league in catching plunks. He got a lot of his battery help from Baltimore pitcher Daniel Cabrera, who led the majors in hitting batters in 2008. But, only 12 of Cabrera’s hit batters occurred with Hernandez behind the plate. The other 46 plunks were split between 17 other Orioles pitcher. His favorite team to put batters in harms way was the Yankees, who got hit 10 times with Hernandez catching against them, with the Rays close behind with 9 plunks.

While we’re on the subject of catchers, let’s take a look at which of them is the most indifferent. That, of course, is measured by how many runners they let advance on defensive indifference.

2008 Defensive Indifference leaders:

Catcher Runners allowed to
advance on
defensive indifference
Carlos Ruiz (PHI) 15
Russell Martin (LAN) 13
Jason Varitek (BOS) 12
Jason Kendall (MIL) 11
Geovany Soto (CHN) 11
Brian McCann (ATL) 11
Yadier Molina (SLN) 10
Kelly Shoppach (CLE) 7
Rod Barajas (TOR) 6
A.J. Pierzynski (CHA) 6
Dioner Navarro (TBA) 6
Chris Coste (PHI) 5
Chris Snyder (ARI) 5
Ramon Hernandez (BAL) 5
Kenji Johjima (SEA) 5
Kevin Cash (BOS) 5

It’s not too surprising that a lot of the leaders in this category are from playoff teams – teams that won a lot of games and were in a lot of positions where they wouldn’t mind a runner taking an extra base late in a game. Overall, defensive indifference was down in 2008 with only 247 base runners advancing in situations where the catcher was judged to just not care. There were 255 such incidents in 2007.

Padres thwart Khalil Greene’s record attempt

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Khalil Greene had been hit by 32 pitches in his career with the San Diego Padres – just 3 plunks short of tying the Padres career HBP record of 35, held by Gene Tenace since 1980. But Greene was traded yesterday, to the Cardinals, which means he won’t be breaking any franchise career plunk records any time soon. This brings up several obvious questions – were the Padres trading him to keep Gene Tenace’s record intact, or did they ship Greene out of town due to his slow progress toward that record? Or, did they need to get him out of the way because they expect Kevin Kouzmanoff to break the record in 2009, and having Greene near the record at the same time might be too confusing for fans, or create too much of a media frenzy with everyone wondering who will be the first Padre to get hit by 36 pitches in his career? (Kouzmanoff has 25 in just 2 years with the Padres.) If the intent was to protect the Gene Tenace record, will Kouzmanoff be put on the block after he gets hit by another 5 or 8 pitches? And how exactly have they gone this long without having anyone get hit by more than 35 pitches? Don Baylor got hit that many times in 1986 alone. Craig Biggio got hit almost that many times (33), just in games against the Rockies, who weren’t even in the same division. Clearly the Padres need to do something to become the sort of team that inspires a little more personal sacrifice then they’ve been getting from most of their players.