The internet tells me that Chan Ho Park has signed a deal with the Japanese Pacific League, which will leave MLB with one less pitcher with over 100 career plunks. At the moment, only 2 100+ plunk pitchers are signed to play in 2011 – Tim Wakefield, and Vicente Padilla. Jamie Moyer, Jamey Wright, and Jeff Weaver are the only others who pitched last year and have over 100 plunks to their credit, and they’re all on the free agent market. Wakefield has said 2011 will probably be his last year, and Padilla is only signed for a year. Jeff Suppan and Kerry Wood are the next closest to joining the 100 hit batsmen club at 94 each, but Suppan doesn’t have a job, and Wood hasn’t hit 6 batters since 2008. Behind them are AJ Burnett and Darren Oliver at 89 plunks, so they could crack into the club by the end of 2011 – but the possibility remains that 2012 could begin with no active pitchers with over 100 hit batters. That will be the first time for that since 1995, and prior to that it hadn’t happened since 1974.
Parks departure means that there are no longer any active pitchers who have plunked Jim Leyritz, Benito Santiago, Tony Gwynn (senior), Andy Benes, Jose Nieves, Mike Hampton or Livan Hernandez. Tim Hudson is the only remaining pitcher to have plunked Luis Alicea. If Suppan doesn’t find work, there will no longer be any active pitchers who plunked Scott Servais since Park and Suppan were the only ones left in that club. Park and Andy Pettitte were the last active pitchers to hit Orlando Miller with a pitch, so that club could be empty too, if rumors of Pettitte’s retirement are true. All that is probably important somehow.