Archive for April, 2010

Eckstein breaks Floridian HBP record

Friday, April 30th, 2010

HBPs of note: April 29, 2010

Only 5 batters were plunked on April 29th this year, but one of them was David Eckstein, who had been hit 135 times before, and once by Milwaukee starter Doug Davis.  135 plunks was the most ever by a player born in Florida, with Gary Sheffield reaching that mark last year, and Eckstein tying his total on April 17th.  But, Doug Davis plunked Eckstein the first inning yesterday, giving the smallish Floridian his 136th career plunk – the most ever by a player from Flordia.  Meanwhile, the 2nd most plunked active player in Florida, Rickie Weeks, watched from the 2nd base defensive position, which is also where Eckstein plays.  Overall, Eckstein is 29th in career HBPs in major league history, and only Jason Kendall his been hit more since Eckstein joined the league in 2001.

For Davis, it was the 40th hit batter he’s thrown in his major league career.

Matt Holiday got HBP number 59 of his career, but more importantly it was the 4700th HBP in Cardinals franchise history. Only the Giants and Pirates have been hit more.

Victor Marte threw his first career HBP, becoming the 238th pitcher to throw a plunk for the Royals.

debut plunks down

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

John Ely’s plunking Rod Barajas yesterday marked the first time in the 2010 season that a pitcher making his major league debut hit a batter. Last April, 8 different pitchers plunked a batter during their first major league pitching appearance. The last season in which there were no debut plunks this late into the season was 2003, when there were no plunks thrown by 1st game pitchers in April.
This probably means something, but I have no idea what.

Konerko ties AL Central HBP record

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

HBPs of note: April 28, 2010

Paul Konerko got hit by a Rich Harden pitch yesterday, which brings Konerko’s career total to 77 plunks, but 74 of those have come since he started playing in the American League Central Division.  That ties him with Matt Lawton for the AL Central division HBP record.  Konerko needs one more plunk to be the first batter to get hit by 75 pitches for AL Central teams.

Brian Schneider and Placido Polanco both got hit in the 10th inning for the Phillies yesterday, making them the first team to get hit twice in an extra inning since the Red Sox hit two Royals on September 9, 2006.

Matt Belisle got hit by a pitch for the first time in his career, but he’s thrown 18 in his career.  Dodger’s pitcher John Ely hit a batter in his first major league pitching appearance, but at least he waited until the 8th batter he faced.

Moyer continues his reign of terror against rookies

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

hbps of note: April 27, 2010

Ancient Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer threw his 140th career plunk yesterday, and his 2nd of this season.  He hit Giants rookie Matt Downs, making this the 2nd time this season he’s hit a batter who had never been plunked before.  Moyer’s 140th plunk moves him ahead of Kevin Brown on the all time hbps list into 16th place (give or take a few badly documented 19th century guys).

Scott Rolen collected plunk number 113 of his career, which puts him in 47th place on the all time list.  But, he was in 47th place before that too.  Bud Norris contributed that one, which was just his 4th career plunking.  Norris is tied for 7th in HBPs among pitchers named Bud.

Ty Wigginton got his 40th plunk, Michael Bourn got his 5th and Matt Holiday got his 58th.  Bourn’s plunk was the 3700th by a batter from Texas, and it was the first time an Astro got plunked batting leadoff in the 1st inning since Josh Anderson on September 25, 2007.  Bourn still needs 39 lead off plunks to break Craig Biggio’s team record for getting plunked as Houston’s first batter of the game.

Of the 7 batters plunked yesterday, 4 of them were hit in the 6th inning.

Dear batters, stop being patient at the plate.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seems to have been an increased focus in the past few years, on batters seeing a lot of pitches, or taking a lot of pitches, or wearing down the pitcher, driving up the pitch count, being patient at the plate, and so forth.  But wouldn’t it be easier and more effective to just get hit by more pitches?  The problem is, when guys get too into this plate patience thing, they get into bad habits like getting out of the way of pitches so they can take more pitches.  That’s not a good thing, and I can prove it.  (sort of)

From 2005 to 2009, a batter saw about 3.8 pitches during an average plate appearance.  In games in which a team saw pitches at under 3.8 per plate appearance, they got hit once every 104.6 plate appearances, but if they took pitches at or above the 3.8 pitch average, their plunk rate fell to 1 every 112.5 plate appearance.  So see less pitches than average per plate appearance throughout a game increased their plunk rate in that game by 7.5%.  This matches up pretty well with the fact that 62.5% of plunks occur in the first 3 pitches of a plate appearance.  Once you get to that 4th pitch, you’re less likely to get plunked at an individual rate, and if your team is watching over 4 pitches per plate appearance you’re plunk rate is going down.  Teams who take 4.2 pitches or more per PA in game get plunked once every 123.4 plate appearances.  Teams over 4.5 pitches per PA get HBPs once every 133.9 plate appearance.

However, some amount of patience is necessary to maximize a team’s rate of being plunked.  Teams that see 3 pitches or less per plate appearance get hit in those games about as infrequently as teams at 4.2 pitches per PA or more – about one HBP every 123.4 plate appearance.  There’s a sweet spot in the middle there, from about 3.2 to 3.6 pitches per PA.  If a team stays in that range for a game, they’ll get plunked about once every 103.6 plate appearances.  In the 1,117 team games where batters saw pitches at 3.3 per plate from 2005 to 2009, those teams got hit 13.5% more frequently than the overall average of that 5 season span.

So, hopefully you can see how excessive plate patience leads to diminished rates of plunks, but you may still be inclined to point out that the goal is to win the game, not get plunked the most – and I would grudgingly agree with that.  But then you might say that being more patient at the plate has a better chance to cause winning than getting hit by a lot of pitches.  Perhaps this statistic will change your mind – from 2005 to 2009, in games when one team got hit by more pitches than the other, the team with more HBPs won 59.2% of those games.  During that same span the team whose batters saw the greater number pitches per plate appearance won 45.8% of the time.  That’s right*, the team showing more patience at the plate loses more often than it wins.  But people will look at teams like the 2009 Yankees, who won 103 games and the World Series, and there batters finished 5th in the majors in pitchers per plate appearance.  But they only actually took more pitches per plate appearance than there opponent in 80 of 162 regular season games, and they won those games at a .613 rate.  When they were less patient than their opponent they won at a .659 rate.  It’s probably safe to say their success had more to do with hitting a billion home runs than being patient at the plate.  (but don’t tell them, they don’t need the help)

*- when I say “That’s right”, I just mean as far as I can tell that’s right.  I’m working with retrosheet’s play by play data from 2005 to 2009.  If anyone can duplicate or refute my results I’d love to see it.  Maybe my math has gone astray.

Utley gets back into the HBP game

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

HBPs of note: April 26, 2010

There were only 3 plunks in yesterday’s Major League Baseball action, and they were all notable.  Chase Utley broke out of his spring HBP slump, and got his first plunk of 2010 after 85 plunkless plate appearances.  That moves his Phillies record total to 108, which ties him for 56th place on the all time plunk list, with Bill Joyce and Mo Vaughn.  This has to have been a disappointing start for Utley after Baseball Prospectus projected him to get hit 27 times this year.  Hopefully this will be the first step toward turning his season around in the HBP category.

Speaking of Mo Vaughn, Kevin Youkilis moved a step closer to his Red Sox HBP record by getting hit by the 60th pitch of his career.  Youk is now 11 plunks behind Mo Vaughn in career plunks for the Red Sox, and Vaughn, Youkilis and recent Hall of Fame inductee Jim Rice are the only players in Red Sox history to get hit 60 times.  The moves Youkilis ahead of Carlton Fisk and 80s HBP legend Don Baylor on the franchise list.  (Baylor only played 268 games for the Red Sox, but it took Youkilis 708 games to get hit more times).

Youkilis’s 60th plunk was thrown by Blue Jays pitcher Casey Janssen, and that pitch turned out to be the 1,500th plunk ever thrown by the Blue Jays.  Janssen plunked Youkilis once before, on May 8, 2007.

Finally, the 3rd notable plunk of yesterday’s games landed on the substantial target known as Prince Fielder of the Brewers.   Fielder leads the Majors with 7 HBPs now, which breaks the Brewers franchise record for April plunks.  Jeremy Burnitz got hit 6 times in April of 2000.   The Brewers lead all teams with 15 plunks, and that matches there highest total in franchise history as of April 26th.  They got hit for the 15th time on April 26th of the 2003 season, and that year they got 17 HBPs in April.  It looks likely that this years Brewers will at least match that start.  Prior to yesterday, Fielder had only been hit 5 times on Mondays, making that his least plunked day of the week, but now he’s been hit 6 times on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.   He’s been hit 11 times on Wednesday and Friday, and 8 times on Sunday.

Zach Duke threw that one, and it was the 2nd time Duke has plunked Fielder.  Fielder joins Reed Johnson and Yadier Molina on the list of batters that have been plunked twice by Zach Duke.

Javier Vazquez ties Puerto Rican record

Monday, April 26th, 2010

HBPs of Note: April 25, 2010

Javier Vazquez of the Yankees hit Angels batter Juan Rivera with a pitch yesterday, which is significant because it was the 80th plunk ever thrown by Vazquez, which ties him with Omar Olivares for the most plunks ever thrown by a pitcher born in Puerto Rico.  It was Rivera’s 20th career HBP.

Ryan Braun got in on the Brewers HBP action, getting his first of the season and the league leading 14th for the Brewers.  That was the 5th plunk on a Sunday for the 2010 Brewers.

Torii Hunter got his 59th career HBP yesterday, which moves him ahead of Lloyd Moseby into 2nd place on the all time plunks list for batters born in Arkansas, but he’s a long way from Sherm Lollar’s record of 115.

249! Jason Kendall plunked.

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

HBPs of note: April 24, 2010

Jason Kendall hadn’t been plunked by a right handed pitcher on a 1 ball, 2 strike count in the 5th inning since Salomon Torres hit him on June 10, 1997.  But yesterday, Nick Blackburn faced Kendall in the 5th inning, and after running the count to 1-2, he threw Kendall’s 249th career HBP.  Blackburn joins the “pitchers who have plunked Jason Kendall” club as it’s 196th member, and the 4th born in Oklahoma.  He joins Brad Radke, Boof Bonser, LaTroy Hawkins, Jesse Crain, and Travis Bowyer as the only Minnesota Twins to plunk Kendall, but Blackburn is the first to do it in an odd numbered inning.  That was Kendall’s 46th plunk on a Saturday, his 24th in the fifth inning,  his 5th plunk on a 1-2 count in the 5th (3 of those by lefties),  and his 5th plunk in the 5th inning on Saturday.  That was Kendall’s first plunk with the Royals, which puts him in a 64 way tie for 160th place on the Royals all time plunks list.

In other plunk news , Josh Willingham got hit by a pitch at Nationals Park, which means he has tied Nick Johnson for the park record with 9 HBPs.  Dodgers rookie Carlos Monasterios threw that one, and it was his first major league plunk thrown.

Also, Casey Jansson hit John Jaso with a pitch, which was Jaso’s first plunk but it was also the 1,000th plunk ever thrown by a pitcher born in 1981.  Jansson got to throw the 1000th for his birth year only because fellow 1981 born pitcher Adam Wainwright hit Mark DeRosa twice a little early in the evening.  Jaso is the 98th batter to be plunked for the Rays, in team history.

Gaby Sanchez got hit by a pitch for the first time in his career, making him the 122nd batter to take one for the Marlins.

Fielder gets 6th for the league lead.

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

HBPs of note: April 23, 2010

Prince Fielder was hit by another pitch last night, bring his season total to a major league leading 6.  That was the 53rd plunk of Fielder’s career, moving him ahead of Jim Gantner on the Brewers career plunk list, into sole possession of 4th place.   That was also his 22nd at Miller Park, which moves him ahead of Jason Kendall into 3rd place on the Miller Park HBP list.  Gregg Zaun added another plunk for the Brewers, which gives them a league leading 13 on the season, and 5 of those have been thrown by the Cubs.  Just for future reference, the post-1960 record for one team being plunked by another team in April is 8 (Colorado hit the Dodgers 8 times in April 2005, and the Expos hit the Mets 8 times in April 2004).  The post-1960 record for a one team being plunked by one other team for the season is 21 – that was how many times the 2008 Tigers hit the 2008 Indians, which was a major factor in Cleveland’s breaking of the post-1900 season plunk record with 103 HBPs.

David DeJesus got hit by a pitch for the Royals, bringing his career total to 68 – which leaves him 10 away from tying Mike Macfarlane’s franchise record.  That was also DeJesus’s 41st plunk at Kauffman Stadium, which is just 3 away from the park record (44 by Mike Macfarlane).

In fun with numbers, Mark Teixeira got his 67th plunk, David DeJesus got his 68th, Miguel Batista threw his 69th, Ryan Dempster threw plunks number 70 and 71 of his career, and AJ Burnett threw his 72nd and 73rd.

Donny Lucy of the White Sox and Drew Stubbs of the Reds both got there first career HBPs.  Lucy is the 575th batter to get hit for the White Sox, and Stubbs is the 678th batter to take one for the Reds.

Old man plunks much younger man

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

HBPs of note: April 22, 2010

As you probably know, Jamie Moyer is old. If you’re not familiar with the Braves exciting rookie, Jason Heyward, then the thing you’ll need to know about him is that he’s young. Heyward will turn 21 on August 9th, while Moyer turned 47 last November. Moyer had hit 14 major league batters before Heyward was born, but last night Jamie Moyer hit Jason Heyward with a pitch. Truly a plunking across the generation gap. That is very likely the first time ever that a pitcher over 47 years old has hit a batter under 21 – the only other possible time it could have happened was an 8 game span at the end of the 1945 season, after September 23rd when Hod Lisenbee turned 47.  He hit two batters that season, and it’s possible one of them might have been under 21, and that the plunk occurred in one of those 8 games.  Jack Quinn, Hoyt Wilhelm, Satchel Paige and Phil Niekro were the only other pitchers to throw a plunk after turning 47, but none of the batters they hit were younger that 23.
That was Heyward’s first career HBP, but he’s the 2nd batter born in 1989 to get plunked this year. Somewhat disturbingly, Heyward is the 666th batter to be plunked in Braves history.
For Moyer, it was his 139th career plunk, and the 2nd time he’s hit a batter under 21, and only the 2nd time he’s hit a batter who is younger than Moyer’s major league career.  139 plunks puts Jamie Moyer in a tie for 5th in plunks during the Jamie Moyer Era, with Kevin Brown.  Only Randy Johnson, Tim Wakefield, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez have thrown more plunks during Moyer’s career.

Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella got his second plunk of the season, and his career, and that brings the total career plunks of batters born in Louisiana to 995.

Tigers pitcher Ryan Perry hit Juan Rivera of the Angels, and that was the 10th plunk thrown by a pitcher born in 1987.  For some reason, 1987 pitchers are 10 plunks behind pitchers born in 1988 in plunks thrown.