Archive for September, 2010

2010 Strikeouts by difficulty update

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Here’s what we get when we assign weights to pitchers strikeout totals based on the frequency their victims strike out in general.  For example, Mark Reynolds strikes out about once every 2.9 plate appearances, and the league average is 5.4, so a strikeout of Mark Reynolds is only worth about 0.54 in “Strike equivalent difficulty” (Ked – I’d subscript the “ed” in that label, but then I’d have to find out how).  Juan Pierre, on the other hand, strikes out very rarely – once per 15.6 plate appearances, so striking him out is worth 2.9 Ked.

Felix Hernandez has a commanding lead in strikeouts by difficulty – his 232 actual strikeouts have the equivalent difficulty of striking out 261 batters with average strikeout rates.  131 (or 56.4%) of his Ks have been recorded against batters who strike out less often than the league average.  He’s the only pitcher to throw 10 strikeouts against batters whose PA per K rate is at least double the league average, and the closest competitor has only 7.  Among pitchers with 200 strikeouts this year, he’s the only pitcher who has thrown more than half of his strikeouts against batters who are better than average at not striking out.

Here are the top 30 in 2010 for Strikeout equivalent difficulty (Ked):

Pitcher Actual Ks Ked Ked – K Ks vs above average batters Ks vs batters above 1.5 * average Ks vs batters above 2 * average
Felix Hernandez 232 261.2 29.2 131 36 10
Jered Weaver 229 240.7 11.7 105 26 7
Justin Verlander 219 226.9 7.9 106 19 4
Roy Halladay 219 223.1 4.1 86 24 6
Tim Lincecum 231 222.8 -8.2 87 18 3
Jon Lester 220 222.7 2.7 102 17 2
Francisco Liriano 195 211.1 16.2 102 19 4
Clayton Kershaw 212 207.4 -4.6 76 20 6
Adam Wainwright 213 206.4 -6.6 82 17 4
Cole Hamels 209 205.6 -3.4 92 18 3
Ryan Dempster 200 203.9 3.9 77 25 5
Max Scherzer 184 202.6 18.6 96 30 4
Colby Lewis 192 200.8 8.8 93 17 6
C.C. Sabathia 197 197.1 0.1 86 20 5
Ubaldo Jimenez 204 191.7 -12.3 76 9 1
Yovani Gallardo 200 190 -10.0 86 9 0
James Shields 186 189 3 81 17 1
David Price 187 188.9 1.9 79 13 2
Brandon Morrow 178 186.9 8.9 91 13 3
Jonathan Sanchez 200 185.7 -14.3 66 15 2
Ricky Romero 169 184.1 15.1 91 18 4
Zack Greinke 172 183.4 11.4 84 14 4
C.J. Wilson 166 181.2 15.2 84 24 6
Ervin Santana 168 176.4 8.4 82 20 4
Mat Latos 185 172.3 -12.7 68 9 3
Shaun Marcum 161 169.6 8.6 74 16 4
Josh Johnson 186 169.3 -16.7 57 11 2
Chris Carpenter 175 167.4 -7.6 61 14 5
Wandy Rodriguez 178 167.3 -10.7 65 11 2
Gio Gonzalez 163 166.4 3.4 71 13 2

The three columns on the right indicate strikeouts against batters who are above the major league average in plate appearances per strikeout (about 5.4); strikeouts against batters who are better than 1.5 times league average (about 8.1); and strikeouts against batters who are better than double the league average strikeout rate (about 10.8).

Hernandez’s 10 most difficult strikeouts have been against Alberto Callaspo, David Eckstein (twice), AJ Pierzinski, Joe Mauer (three times), Kurt Suzuki and Jason Kendal (twice). He’s also struck out Miguel Tejada once, Orlando Cabrera once, and Vlad Guerrero 5 times, and all those guys strike out less often than once per 10 plate appearances.

2010 HBPs by difficulty update

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Normally I don’t care about style points for HBPs around here, but it’s still easier to get hit by AJ Burnett than it is to get hit by Mark Buehrle or Cliff Lee. If we want to score it by difficulty, we can look and see that Mark Buehrle has hit 1 batters in 873 plate appearances this year, and say that since the league average rate is 1 plunk every 119.9 plate appearances, that one plunk from Buehrle is worth about 7.3 plunks from average pitchers. Assign those values Burnett hit a batter every 47.2 plate appearances, so his plunks are only worth about 0.4 each, on our scale of equivalent difficulty plunks.

This week I’m calling this stat HBPed for Hit by pitch equivalent difficulty. Although Rickie Weeks leads the league in total plunks, it’s Juan Pierre who has the lead in HBPed. Pierre’s 21 actual plunks have had the equivalent difficulty of 21.7 plunks against average pitching, so Pierre’s plunks have come from pitchers who are slightly stingier than average when it comes to handing out HBPs. Week is down to 4th place, with an HBPed of 15.9. In Pierre’s case though, a lot of his league leading total came from just one HBP – Jason Vargas threw his only plunk of the season to Pierre, in a total of 811 batters faced. That single plunk accounts for 6.8 of Pierre’s HBPed, so if he didn’t have that on his resume, he’d be down below Marlon Byrd. None of the other top HBP receivers in the league have a signature plunk like that.

Here’s the top 25 list in 2010 HBPed as of this morning:

Batter HBP HBPed HBPed-HBP HBP above avg pct*
Juan Pierre 21 21.7 0.7 76.2%
Prince Fielder 21 18.6 -2.4 52.4%
Carlos Quentin 20 16.8 -3.2 70.0%
Rickie Weeks 23 15.9 -7.1 82.6%
Marlon Byrd 17 15.8 -1.2 64.7%
Chase Utley 18 14.2 -3.8 77.8%
Mike Napoli 11 13.7 2.7 81.8%
Adam Jones 13 13.5 0.5 61.5%
Josh Wilson 12 12.5 0.5 66.7%
Aaron Rowand 8 12.5 4.5 50.0%
Robinson Cano 7 12.2 5.2 71.4%
Nyjer Morgan 10 11.6 1.6 50.0%
Jonny Gomes 12 11.5 -0.5 75.0%
Michael Cuddyer 4 11.4 7.4 25.0%
Brett Wallace 7 10.8 3.8 57.1%
Shin-Soo Choo 11 10.2 -0.8 54.5%
Ryan Howard 8 9.7 1.7 25.0%
Mark Teixeira 12 9.6 -2.4 66.7%
Derek Jeter 9 9.6 0.6 44.4%
Adam Dunn 9 9.5 0.5 44.4%
Jayson Werth 7 9.5 2.5 14.3%
Jose Guillen 9 9.4 0.4 55.6%
Xavier Nady 8 9.2 1.2 37.5%
Travis Hafner 12 9.2 -2.8 83.3%
Aaron Hill 8 8.8 0.8 50.0%

*-This is the number of plunks the batter received from pitchers who hit batters more often than the league rate of plunks per plate appearance, shown as a percentage of there total HBPs.

265 Wednesday plunks

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

HBPs of note: September 29, 2010

10 batters were hit by pitches yesterday, bringing this year’s total number of plunks on Wednesday to 265. Wednesday has a 34 plunk lead on Saturday for the day of the week with the most plunks this year, so unless 35 batters get plunked on Saturday, Wednesday has locked up the 2010 title. That makes this the first year that Wednesday was the day of the week with the most HBPs since 1992.

Miguel Tejada got his 118th career HBP, contributed by Randy Wells, moving him into 45th place on the all time list, just ahead of Aaron Rowand.

Corey Hart got hit by a pitch from Mets pitcher Sean Green, and that gives him the historic honor of taking the 100th plunk in Citi Field history. That’s a controversial total though, becuase the first 47 plunks at Citi Field were part of a government plunk bailout for struggling ballparks named after large banks. At least that’s how I remember it. Hart and Ryan Braun were both plunked in that game, but that did not help Rickie Weeks get any close to Fernando Vina’s single season HBP record for the Brewers. The Brewers are 4 plunks short of there single season team record.

Trent Oeltjen got hit by Jhoulys Chacin, and that makes him the 662nd player to get hit by a pitch for the Dodgers. That was also the 70th major league HBP recorded by an Australian.

BACON race update:
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Carlos Gonzalez – .8148
Ichiro Suzuki – .8097
Adrian Beltre – .8072
Joe Mauer – .8016

2010 season passes the 1500 plunk mark

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

HBPs of note: September 28, 2010

Only 4 batters go hit by a pitch yesterday, but Roy Oswalt’s plunking of Mike Morse was significant because it was the 200th time the Phillies have ever hit the Nationals franchise. Esmil Rogers plunk thrown at AJ Ellis was the 1500th plunk of the season – if the league can get together and get hit by 18 pitches per day for the rest of the season, they can finish the season with more HBPs than last year. But, that’s probably a long shot. 1590 batters were hit by pitches last year, but after yesterday, this year’s total is only 1501. Brandon Phillips HBP from Wandy Rodriguez was his 20th at Great American Ballpark. He has the 4th most plunks in park history.

BACON race update:
Carlos Gonzalez – .8218
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Adrian Beltre – .8127
Ichiro Suzuki – .8082
Joe Mauer – .8016

Quentin gets 20th! Another pair of 20 plunk teammates.

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

HBPs of note: September 27, 2010

As I may have mentioned before, prior to this season there hadn’t been two guys on the same team who both got hit by 20 pitches in the same season since 1911 when Doc Gessler and Kid Elberfeld had 20 and 25 HBPs for the 1911 Washington Senators. But then Prince Fielder of the Brewers passed 20 plunks on August 11th, and his teammate Rickie Weeks joined him on the 15th. And then Juan Pierre of the White Sox got his 20th of the year on September 17th, and yesterday his teammate Carlos Quentin got hit by Clay Buchholz, giving HIM 20 plunks this year as well. So after nearly going 100 years without anyone matching Doc and The Tobasco Kid, with no team having two players get hit 20 times in the same season, now we’ve seen it happen twice in the same season. That was number 74 overall for Quentin’s career. That plunk also tied the White Sox single season record for HBPs at 79.

Chase Utley, meanwhile, was facing his old pal John Lannan, who had previously plunked him twice. So last night, Lannan hit him a 3rd time. That was number 125 for Utley, and his 18th of the year, which means that if he an get 2 more in his remaining games this year, he could become just the 6th player to get hit 20 times in 4 consecutive seasons – joining Craig Biggio, Ron Hunt, Don Baylor, Tommie Tucker, and Hughie Jennings. Utley is now tied with Jeff Kent and Honus Wagner at 40th place on the all time HBP list.

Travis Hafner got his 70th HBP from a Brad Thomas pitch yesterday, and that leaves him 9 behind Nap Lajoie for the Indians franchise record.

AJ Burnett hit Yunel Escobar raising his league leading plunks thrown total to 17. He’s the first Yankee to hit 17 batters since Tommy Byrne in 1950.

BACON race update:
Carlos Gonzalez – .8202
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Adrian Beltre – .8117
Ichiro Suzuki – .8070
Joe Mauer – .8016

Bautista joins 50/10 club

Monday, September 27th, 2010

HBPs of note: September 26, 2010

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista got hit by one of Rick Vandenhurk’s pitches and the he got hit by one of Alfredo Simon’s pitches yesterday, giving Bautista 10 HBPs this year. That makes him just the 6th player in baseball history to have 50 homers and 10 HBPs in the same season. Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder were the last players to put up a 50/10 season, in 2007, and Andruw Jones, Luis Gonzalez and Brady Anderson are the other members of this club.

Shane Victorino extended his Hawaiian record career total to 45 on a Pat Misch plunk.

BACON race update:
Carlos Gonzalez – .8190
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Ichiro Suzuki – .8133
Adrian Beltre -.8101
Joe Mauer – .8016

18 HBPs! Finally it’s a pennant race

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

HBPs of note: September 25, 2010

It’s finally looking like a September push for the playoffs is underway, as 18 batters took HBPs for their team yesterday – a season high, and the most since August 4, 2009 when 19 plunks were recorded. 14 different teams got hit by a pitch, and that’s a season high as well.

Paul Konerko got plunked by Scott Kazmir, giving him 81 career plunks and 78th with the White Sox. That puts him back in sole possession of the American League Central division plunk record, 1 ahead of AJ Pierzynski. Also, that was the White Sox 78th HBP of the season, which is just 1 away from their single season team record. They got hit 79 times in 2005 when they won the World Series, so this year must be much better than their World Series year, because they’ll probably be hit by more pitches.

Ryan Kalish of the Red Sox had never been hit before, and Ivan Nova of the Yankees had never hit a batter before, so it was only fitting that those two hooked up for the 750th HBP in a Yankees/Red Sox games since the sale of Babe Ruth.

BACON Race update:
Carlos Gonzalez – .8177
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Adrian Beltre – .8144
Ichiro Suzuki – .8121
Joe Mauer – .8016

Hu is the first batter from Taiwan to get hit by a pitch? Yes.

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

September 24, 2010

Dodgers infielder Chin-Lung Hu got hit by a pitch for the first time in his major league, and that makes him the first batter born in Taiwan ever to be plunk in the majors. Sadly, Hu does not play first base. He’s the 659th player ever to get plunked for the Dodgers.

There were only 4 plunks yesterday, but 3 of them were thrown by pitchers who hadn’t hit anyone this year. Mark Rogers and Barry Enright threw their first major league plunks, and Andrew Miller threw his first of the season and 16th overall. Including those 3 pitchers, there have been 439 pitchers to throw a plunk this year – that’s well short of last year’s record total of 502 different pitchers throwing a plunk in one season. Enright also gets the title of the first pitcher ever to plunk a batter from Taiwan.

BACON race update:
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Carlos Gonzalez – .8157
Adrian Beltre – .8127
Ichiro Suzuki – .8109
Vlad Guerrero – .8039

Vasquez plunks three straight

Friday, September 24th, 2010

HBPs of note: September 23, 2010

Javier Vasquez had an interesting sequence for the 7th inning yesterday – Walk, HBP, HBP, HBP, Sac Fly, Walk, Strikeout, Fly out. He hit Desmond Jennings, Willy Aybar and Kelly Shoppach back to back to back. According to Gameday’s timestamps, it took him 3 minutes and 11 seconds to crank out those 3 plunks, and he worked 3 plunks into a span of just 6 pitches. The last pitcher to hit 3 consecutive batters was Jeff Weaver, who did it on August 21, 2004, and also got from the 1st to 3rd plunk in 6 pitches. He hit JD Drew, Chipper Jones and Johnny Estrada – and it’s not easy to plunk Chipper Jones. On May 22, 1999 Steve Sparks threw three consecutive plunks in the span of just 4 pitches, hitting Paul Sorrento, Miguel Cairo and Kevin Stocker. CJ Nitkowski also hit 3 consecutive batters, on August 3, 1998, but he needed 10 pitches. Those are the only 4 times that has happened in the last 10 years.

Meanwhile in Chicago, Jose Guillen got hit by 2 pitches in the same inning. That’s only happened 3 other times in the past 25 years, most recently by Mike Hessman on September 8, 2008. But, Guillen got both his plunks against Ryan Dempster, and only Brady Anderson had been hit twice in the same inning by the same pitcher. Anderson did it on May 23, 1999, and both plunks were thrown by Mike Morgan. That was believed to be the only time in baseball history that a batter was hit twice in one inning by the same pitcher, but yesterday’s Guillen/Dempster plunks makes twice.

Guillen is now up to 145 career plunks, and has sole possession of 22nd place on the all time list. Chet Lemon is the next step above Guillen, with 151.
BACON race update:
Carlos Gonzalez – .8201
Adrian Beltre – .8200
Josh Hamilton – .8166
Ichiro Suzuki – .8094
Billy Butler – .8025

Utley get 123rd – and 124th

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

HBPs of note: September 22, 2010

Chase Utley got hit by Tommy Hanson in the 4th inning, and Johnny Venters in the 8th inning last night, bringing him up to 124 career HBPs. He’s 1 plunk behind Honus Wagner and Jeff Kent for 40th place on the all time HBP list. He’s also now 3 plunks ahead of Jason Kendall for the Chase Utley era record for HBPs, and he’s up to 17 HBPs on the season, after coming into September with only 10. He may yet extend his streak of 20 plunk seasons to 4. Tommy Hanson’s plunk was his 14th of the season, which gives him the lead in the National League for hitting batters. Johnny Venters plunk was the 2nd time this year that he’s hit Utley. Venters also hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch, making Ruiz the recipient of the 500th plunk ever recorded by a batter born in Panama.

Juan Pierre got his 21st HBP of the season, leading the American League. The White Sox have been hit 77 times this season, 2 short of their franchise record of 79 in 2005. Pierre’s 21 plunks are more than double his prior career high.

5 different players recorded their first HBP on one side or the other last night – Mets Rookie Jesus Feliciano and Cardinals rookie Danial Descalso both got hit for the first time, as did Arizona veteran pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. Carlos Carrasco of the Indians hit a batter for the first time in his career, and Dodgers rookie Kenley Jansen threw his first plunk. He hit Ryan Ludwick, possible because Ludwick made fun of him for having a girl’s name. No word yet on if Jansen only became a major league pitcher as part of a life long quest to plunk the man who named him Kenley. Lopez was the 90th batter plunked in Diamondbacks franchise history,

BACON race update:
Adrian Beltre – .8200
Carlos Gonzalez – .8185
Josh Hamilotn – .8166
Ichiro Suzuki – .8079
Vladimir Guerrero – .8064