About 10 years ago, back when he pitched for the Red Sox, accomplished plunker of batters Pedro Martinez was once quoted as saying “The Clubhouse is my house. If you sneak into my house and I don’t know you, I shoot you.” Well, if the clubhouse is a pitchers house, than their home field has to be their lawn. And some pitchers just don’t like having batters on their lawn. They’re always trying to run around those bases and wear a path in the grass, and it’s gotten to the point where they don’t even TRY growing grass in those places – plus the area around the plate where everyone’s always hanging around. The pitcher has no other choice, in these situations, but to try to defend his lawn by standing on a dirt hill in the middle of it and throwing baseballs at people. Pedro hit 5 batters on his lawn that year, but he also hit 4 on the road, so he might just have been pitching instead of trying to keep people off his lawn.
However, this season, Nationals pitcher John Lannan has hit 6 batters, and he’s done it exclusively at his home park, Nationals’ Park (which is not a National Park by the way). He holds the record for that stadium, with 10 career plunks there, and he’s only hit 5 batters away from his home lawn. Clearly he feels a strong desire to keep it from being walked all over. To bad the umpires keep sending the guys to first base instead of, you know, off the lawn.
Since 1986, 14 pitchers have made it through a season plunking at least 6 batters, and doing so exclusively at home. These people clearly didn’t want there lawns walked on. The weirdest part of that, though, was that the post-1986 record most plunks in a season without a road plunk is 9 by Scott Sullivan in 1998. But Sullivan played for the Reds, at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field – which had astroturf. So maybe his angry message to batters was “NO SHOES ON THE RUG!”. Or something. It would have been a perfect opportunity for a Joe Jackson comeback.
Sullivan really only had that one year of vigorous defense of his home field – for his career he threw 32 home plunks and 28 on the road, so that’s only 53.3% of his plunks occuring in home games. John Lannan has thrown 66.7% of his plunks on his home lawn, but there are 4 active pitchers who have hit more than 10 batters, and done more than 75% of them at home. Scot Shields leads the group, with 78.9% of his 19 career plunks in home games at Anaheim (or at LA of Anaheim?). CJ Wilson has thrown 13 of his 17 career plunks at his home park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Danys Baez may be the most committed to lawn care, having hit 31 batters at home and only 10 on the road, for a 75.6% home plunk split. And he’s moved around a lot – defending the lawn in Cleveland, Baltimore, LA, Atlanta and defending the field turf in Tampa… which I guess must be just that realistic. Nelson Figueroa is the other pitcher with 75% of his plunks at home, have thrown 12 of his 16 plunks at the various parks he’s called home.