Archive for February, 2011

step 1 – get hit by pitch, step 3 – score run

Friday, February 25th, 2011

One of the remarkable things about Craig Biggio‘s 285 career HBPs is that he came around to score a run on 99 of the times he got on base by a plunk. Usually that’s largely attributed to having Jeff Bagwell batting behind him for most of his career. But interestingly enough, Bagwell scored runs on a higher percentage of his HBPs. Bagwell’s 128 career plunks resulted in 46 runs, for a 35.9% rate of converting plunks to runs. Biggio’s rate is 34.7%. The only other players with over 100 plunks since 1974 with a higher rate than Biggio’s is Derek Jeter, who has also played on some teams that can drive in runs. He’s scored 53 runs off 152 plunks for a 34.9% rate.
This is interesting how the numbers sit at the end of the 2010 season:

HBP Runs off HBPs
Biggio 285 99
Bagwell + Jeter 280 99

Here’s the top ten list for runs scored per plunk, with a 100HBP minimum:

Batter HBP Runs of HBPs PCT
Jeff Bagwell 128 46 35.9%
Derek Jeter 152 53 34.9%
Craig Biggio 285 99 34.7%
Chuck Knoblauch 139 48 34.5%
Reed Johnson 102 34 33.3%
Fernando Vina 157 52 33.1%
Chase Utley 125 40 32.0%
Andre Dawson 111 35 31.5%
Brady Anderson 154 48 31.2%
Don Baylor 267 79 29.6%

If we drop our standards to 50 HBPs, Bagwell still ranks 20th, and Jeter and Biggio come in 26th and 28th. Here’s the top 10 for batters with over 50 HBP since 1974:

Batter HBP Runs of HBPs PCT
Kirk Gibson 61 28 45.9%
Tino Martinez 59 24 40.7%
Willie Wilson 62 25 40.3%
Kevin Youkilis 68 27 39.7%
Lance Berkman 61 24 39.3%
Sammy Sosa 59 23 39.0%
Pat Meares 57 22 38.6%
Geoff Jenkins 96 37 38.5%
Dwight Evans 52 20 38.5%
Joe Randa 55 21 38.2%

To find someone who scored a run more than 50% of the times they reached on a plunk, you have to get down to 44 HBPs, and that would be Joey Cora. He scored on 23 of his 44. The only other player with over 20 HBPs who scored on more than half of them is Reggie Jefferson who came around to score on 11 of his 20 career plunkings.

In a single season, the most runs scored after reaching on plunks (since 1974) is Craig Biggio‘s 13 in 2001. He got hit 28 times that year, and scored on 46.4% of those. The most runs scored off plunks by someone who scored on over half their plunks in a season was 12, by David DeJesus in 2007. He got hit 23 times and scored runs off 52.2% – and he did that playing for the Royals. The most plunks in a single season by someone who scored a run every time he got his is 6 – Troy Glaus did that in 2002 for the Angels and Onix Concepcion went 6 for 6 in 1985 for the Royals. Probably just a coincidence that the 2002 Angels and the 1985 Royals both won the World Series.

Presidential plunkings

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Only two players in baseball history with the same name as a US President have been hit by pitches – George Washington and John Kennedy. Washington was hit 3 times for the 1935 Chicago White Sox, and John Edward Kennedy was hit 35 times between 1962 and 1973. Kennedy started his career, appropriately enough, with the Washington Senators while his namesake still occupied the White House. Jim Katt, Moe Drabowsky, Bob Gibson and Rich Gossage are among the 34 pitchers who plunked Kennedy from the dirt knoll, but no one name Oswald is on that list. No pitcher with the same first and last name as a president has ever hit a batter, although there was Grover Cleveland Alexander, who hit 70 batters. If he had changed his name to just Grover Cleveland, that he’d be able to make this list on two non consecutive occasions.

Going just by last names, it’s the Johnson family leading the way, and that’s without giving them credit for having both Andrew and Lyndon be president. Batters named Johnson have been hit 667 times. They’re led by Reed Johnson, and his 102 plunks. He has the most HBPs of any player with the same last name as a US President. Wilsons are next behind them with 521, led by Craig Wilson’s 90 plunks. 504 plunks have landed on players with the same last as Confederacy president Jefferson Davis, and Jacksons have been hit by 331 pitches, lead by Reggie Jackson’s 96. He’s second to Reed Johnson in plunks by players with a presidential name, and held the record until 2009. There’s no other active player with over 70 HBPs, so Johnson could hold the record until 2020 when the Biggio administration takes office (inspiring the nation with his message of leadership through HBPs. He’ll dismiss the secret service and defend himself only with an elbow guard).

Here’s the list of total HBPs by presidential last name:

Last Name HBP Players PA per HBP
Johnson 667 104 144.7
Wilson 521 69 130.3
Jackson 331 35 153.9
Taylor 162 47 136.6
Carter 160 15 117.4
Kennedy 128 20 170.7
Ford 118 17 127.9
Bush 101 6 160.5
Adams 80 28 242.3
Hayes 70 10 307.7
Nixon 56 6 270.3
Washington 49 7 257.8
Clinton 28 2 85.0
Jefferson 27 3 119.6
Grant 17 7 310.1
Monroe 14 6 223.3
Hoover 12 6 124.1
Buchanan 10 3 91.0
Pierce 6 8 261.5
Cleveland 4 2 66.3
Harrison 4 7 316.3
Madison 2 3 194.0
Tyler 2 3 533.0
Lincoln 0 3 N/A
Van Buren 0 2 N/A

Craig Biggio holds the post-1974 record for most plunks on a President’s birthday with 25. He was hit 4 times on the birthday of Astros fan George Herbert Walker Bush, 3 times on JFK’s, Truman’s and Coolidge’s birthdays, twice on the birthdays of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and Benjamin Harrison, and once each on the birthdays of Presidents Hoover, Grant and Taft. He was also hit on the birthdays of John Quincy Adams, Lyndon Johnson, and Barack Obama.

Andres Galarraga is behind Biggio with 24 Presidents birthday plunks, and Jason Kendall is the active leader with 22.

HBPs as a DH

Monday, February 14th, 2011

You probably would have guessed that the all time leader in being hit by pitches as a designated hitter is Don Baylor – but would you have guessed that he still has a 99 plunk lead over 2nd place in that category?

Here are the all time leaders in plunks by a DH:
Don Baylor – 165
Edgar Martinez – 66
Jason Giambi – 62
Travis Hafner – 61
Hal McRae – 58
Brian Downing – 57
Frank Thomas – 57
Jose Canseco – 42
Mike Sweeney – 35
Josh Phelps – 29
Brad Fullmer – 27
David Ortiz – 26
Jonny Gomes – 26
Cliff Johnson – 26
Manny Ramirez – 25
Randy Bush – 25
Paul Molitor – 23
Greg Luzinski – 22
Jim Thome – 20
Tony Oliva – 20
Olmedo Saenz – 20
Vladimir Guerrero – 20
Carl Everett – 20
Frank Robinson – 19
Ron Kittle – 18
Oscar Gamble – 18
Cecil Fielder – 18
Jim Rice – 17
Andre Dawson – 16
Reggie Jackson – 16
Dmitri Young – 15
Jose Guillen – 15
Gary Sheffield – 15
Ken Phelps – 15
Reggie Jefferson – 15
Gene Larkin – 14
John Jaha – 14
Frank Catalanotto – 14
Mike Stanley – 14
Tim Salmon – 13
Kevin Reimer – 13
Jim Leyritz – 13
Larry Sheets – 12
Nick Johnson – 12
Dave Kingman – 12
Rafael Palmeiro – 12
Milton Bradley – 12
Rusty Staub – 12
George Bell – 12

Here are the single season leaders since 1973 (Baylor’s 34 in 1986 stand as the single season record):
2010 – Travis Hafner – 11
2009 – David Ortiz – 5
2008 – Milton Bradley – 9
2007 – Gary Sheffield – 8
2006 – Jason Giambi, Travis Hafner – 7
2005 – Jason Giambi – 10
2004 – Travis Hafner – 16
2003 – Josh Phelps – 15
2002 – Brad Fullmer – 11
2001 – Olmedo Saenz – 11
2000 – Mike Sweeney, Brad Fullmer – 6
1999 – John Jaha, Marty Cordova – 9
1998 – Frank Thomas – 6
1997 – Edgar Martinez – 11
1996 – Edgar Martinez, Carlos Delgado – 8
1995 – Edgar Martinez – 8
1994 – Julio Franco, Jose Canseco – 5
1993 – Andre Dawson – 12
1992 – Brian Downing – 7
1991 – Brian Downing – 8
1990 – Brian Downing – 6
1989 – Brian Downing – 6
1988 – Brian Downing – 14
1987 – Don Baylor – 27
1986 – Don Baylor – 34
1985 – Don Baylor – 24
1984 – Don Baylor – 23
1983 – Don Baylor – 12
1982 – Don Baylor – 7
1981 – Don Baylor – 7
1980 – Hal McRae – 6
1979 – Rusty Staub, Cliff Johnson – 5
1978 – Don Baylor – 9
1977 – Hal McRae – 9
1976 – Hal McRae – 8
1975 – Tony Oliva – 13
1974 – Frank Robinson – 10
1973 – Frank Robinson – 9

Here are the team record holders for DH plunks, in order of most plunks:
Mariners – Edgar Martinez – 66
Indians – Travis Hafner – 61
Yankees – Don Baylor – 59
Royals – Hal McRae – 58
Red Sox – Don Baylor – 57
Angels – Brian Downing – 42
White Sox – Frank Thomas – 41
Twins – Randy Bush – 25
Blue Jays – Josh Phelps – 25
Rays – Jonny Gomes – 24
A’s – Olmedo Saenz – 17
Tigers – Dmitri Young – 15
Rangers – Brian Downing – 15
Orioles – Larry Sheets – 12
Brewers – Paul Molitor – 11
Marlins – Kevin Millar – 4
Astros – Craig Biggio – 4
Rockies – Larry Walker – 3
Dodgers – Olmedo Saenz – 3
Pirates – Ryan Doumit – 3
Braves – Andres Galarraga – 2
Reds – Ken Griffey, Adam Dunn, Jonny Gomes – 2
Giants – Barry Bonds – 2
Cardinals – Scott Spiezio – 2
Diamondbacks – Steve Finley, Rusty Ryal, Yamil Benitez – 1
Cubs – Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Jason Dubois – 1
Nationals – Fernando Tatis, Carl Everett, Adam Dunn, Jeffrey Hammonds, Daryle Ward, Cristian Guzman – 1
Mets – Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza, Paul Lo Duca, Cliff Floyd, Chris Carter – 1
Phillies – Jeremy Giambi, Kevin Jordan, Ben Francisco – 1
Padres – Ryan Klesko, Phil Nevin – 1

Molitor’s record with the Brewers is probably the most unbreakable of that batch.

And, here are the pitchers who have plunked the most DHs in the history of DHing.
Tim Wakefield – 20
Charlie Hough – 15
Frank Tanana – 15
Kenny Rogers – 14
Randy Johnson – 14
Todd Stottlemyre – 13
Jamie Moyer – 13
Dave Stieb – 13
Mark Langston – 13
Roger Clemens – 12
C.C. Sabathia – 12
Scott Erickson – 12
Jarrod Washburn – 12
Mike Mussina – 12
Jeff Weaver – 12
Jim Acker – 11
Jack Morris – 11
Mike Boddicker – 11
Jason Johnson – 11
Bert Blyleven – 11
Daniel Cabrera – 11
Mike Smithson – 10
Bill Swift – 10
Frank Viola – 10
Pedro Martinez – 10
Freddy Garcia – 10
David Wells – 10
Kevin Brown – 9
Dennis Martinez – 9
Mark Buehrle – 9
Bob Wells – 9
Orlando Hernandez – 9
Tim Hudson – 9
Aaron Sele – 9
Nolan Ryan – 9
Dave Stewart – 9
Mark Clear – 9
Ervin Santana – 9
Mark Gubicza – 9
Mike Witt – 9
Steve Sparks – 8
Mariano Rivera – 8
Cliff Lee – 8
Jaime Navarro – 8
Jason Grimsley – 8
Bill Castro – 8
Milt Wilcox – 8
NatE. Robertson – 8
Jim Slaton – 8
Kevin Appier – 8
Tom Candiotti – 8
Floyd Bannister – 8
Danny Darwin – 8

Hey. Somebody sign David Eckstein.

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

I’m talking to you, MLB GMs. Just sitting around not signing David Eckstein when he’s a free agent, and probably not even asking for that much money. Have you looked at your teams? You think you have anyone on your roster who has gotten hit by 140 pitches in a ten year span? Don’t bother looking it up – if you’re not the Kansas City Royals, you don’t have one. But you could, and his name is David Eckstein*. Seriously. What are you thinking? You think he’s too old? He turned 36 last month. Don Baylor got hit by another 99 pitches after he turned 36, and Craig Biggio got hit by 88 more. If they can do it, it’s a good bet Eckstein can too. And it’s a bet that won’t even cost you much – he worked for $1mil last year, and $850k the year before that. You think you can find another former World Series MVP at that rate? Good luck. And you know you won’t find one with 143 career HBPs and a career plunk rate better than one every 40 plate appearances. And he’ll probably get hit by even more pitches once he gets out of San Diego – a team with a historic lack of commitment to the HBP. How many guys do you think there are in the league with 10 years experience and a world series ring in 20% of his major league seasons? I’ll tell you – among batters there are 5. Two are Yankees, and your not getting them (well, unless you’re the Yankees). The others are Aaron Rowand, David Eckstein and Juan Uribe. (Actually Mike Lowell would qualify too, but he retired). Something those guys have in common? Jeter – 152 career HBPs. Posada has 72, Rowand has 117, Eckstein has 143, and Uribe… well Uribe only has 30… I don’t know how to explain that except to treat the 2010 World Series as a historic oddity. But anyway, those guys all win a lot of World Series rings, and they get hit by a lot of pitches. SO there must be a connection. As long as you don’t go looking for it, because then you’ll get distracted by Jason Kendall. The point is, David Eckstein is looking for a Major League job, and you will almost certainly win more games if you sign him than if you don’t.
A lot of you don’t exactly have impressive all-star infields out there – don’t make me name names.
All right, you made me. Houston? Oh sure – you’re all set with Clint Barmes and Bill Hall in the middle of your infield. A couple of 32 year olds with 46 career plunks between them both. Sounds like a plan. You wouldn’t rather have David Eckstein take up Craig Biggo’s old position? Maybe somebody who could be the first 2nd basemen since Biggio to get hit by more than 9 plunks. 9 plunks is the TOTAL of all your 2nd baseman’s HBPs since Biggio left, not a season high. That’s just sad. Yeah fine – just go with Bill Hall – you’re right, he’s only 31 so clearly my analysis is wrong. You’ll definitely get your $7million worth out of him for the next two years, even though you could have had Eckstein for a third of that. I’m sure it’s part of a brilliant long term plan.
How about you, Brian Cashman? I know you’ve already got a short stop with a lot of rings and a lot of HBPs, but you’re the Yankees, wouldn’t you rather have 2 of them? I know you’re turned off by the idea that a player might sign for a mere million dollars, and if it makes you feel better, fine – you can pay him $15 million a year. I don’t think he’ll mind. Nope, nevermind – I like David Eckstein, and I don’t want to see him in a Yankee uniform.
Cardinals? You’re pretty sure Skip Shumaker is going to bounce back from last years numbers? Have you looked at his career HBP numbers? Or should I say Number, since it’s 6? Not to mention that you haven’t won a World Series since Eckstein left – that goes for you too Angels.
What about the Rays? If you’re only signing former Red Sox this year, keep in mind that Eckstein was in the Red Sox farm system for a while – does that make you more interested? You’re that excited about the promising young Sean Rodriguez and his .296 OBP from last year? Let me give you a little tip that’s related to someone you’re familiar with. Remember your old shortstop Jason Bartlett? When he was coming up with Minnesota, they signed Juan Castro to start ahead of him in 2005 when everyone thought it was time for Bartlett to be given the full time job. The only way that made sense was to motivate Bartlett – make him say “wow – they think THAT guy is better than me?”. And it worked, Bartlett made a big improvement next year. Obviously Eckstein is a 143 times better player than Juan Castro (143 plunks to 1), but he’s 5’7 and tends to get underestimated, so you could still have the winning of David Eckstein with the motivation for your young 2nd baseman of feeling like the team brought in this little guy to start ahead of him. Trust me, the Castro Gambit will work.
Here’s another idea – the Milwaukee Brewers. I know you’re not excited about Yuniesky Betancourt – just because you took him to make the Zach Grienke trade happen doesn’t mean you actually have to let him play. I’m pretty sure Grienke won’t care. Sign Eckstein for small money, let him play short stop – and this is the best part – put out an Eckstein, Weeks, Fielder infield that could go for the record of most plunks by an infield. Last year the Brewers were the first team in 99 years to have two players with over 20 HBPs (though the White Sox also did that last year), but with Eckstein at short they could become the first team EVER with three 20 plunk players. I know Eckstein hasn’t had a 20 hbp year since 2002, but he has the skills to get that done if he’s given the chance. You’re telling me that wouldn’t pack in the fans?

Okay, I get it – David Eckstein isn’t exactly a proven box office draw, but that’s just because most fans haven’t gotten the message that the HBP is the most important stat in the game. You know what draws as many fans as a big name player? Winning. Only Jason Kendall has been hit by more pitches than Eckstein since 2001, and he only got 7 more (150 to 143). When Eckstein has been hit by pitches, his team has won the game 80 times. Only Jason Giambi has more wins in games with a plunk since 2001. That doesn’t sound like it could help your team? Looking around the league at who’s expected to start in major league infields, there are some less than impressive players keeping jobs while David Eckstein is still out there looking for work. And for that matter, he’d make a great backup. He can still probably put up a dozen plunks in a platoon or utility role, and also be a mentor to young infielders, teaching them the craft of how to get hit by more pitches. Grittiness isn’t always an inherent trait in players – it can be taught.

In summary, somebody sign David Eckstein. Do it. Do it now. Maybe somebody in the AL West, so he can get hit by the Angels and join the “plunked by every major league team” club, along with Jason Kendall and Rondell White? That’d be nice. You’re all going to feel stupid if he ends up going to play in Japan and puts up fantastic numbers over there.

*-or Carlos Delgado, if you want to get technical, but he seems more retired than Eckstein. Only 12 players in MLB history have gotten hit by 140 pitches in the span of 10 seasons. Delgado, Eckstein, Jason Kendall, Fernando Vina, Craig Biggio, Don Baylor, Ron Hunt, Minnie Minoso, Dan McGann, Tommy Tucker, Curt Welch and Hughie Jennings.

PS, if this is the year that Eckstein is supposed to be sent back in time to 1898 to become Kid Elberfeld, and this is all part of your plan to perfect time travel for player movement purposes, than I’m okay with that, I guess. If that’s what has to happen for you to have the technology to send Albert Pujols back to 2001 from the 23rd century when he was (will be?) born, than I guess that’s okay… if that’s how you got Albert Pujols here from the 23rd century. But, if you used this technology to bring Alex Rodriguez back from the future, than this is a terrible crime against nature and you need to stop your cross-time player management now. If Eckstein goes back to become Elberfeld this year, and I can ever prove that they’re the same person, he would be the career HBP record holder with 308 (165 as Elberfeld and 143 as Eckstein).

taking one for your mathematically eliminated team

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Getting hit by a pitch is, of course, a major offensive tool and an important way to help your team win baseball games. But, there comes a time in most team’s seasons when they no longer have any reason except pride in winning games. When a team is mathematically eliminated, do their players still feel a need to get hit by pitches? Or – do they really have any choice in the matter?

In 2010, there were 239 team games where the batting team was eliminated (team games meaning that if both teams were out of the mathematically eliminated, that counts as two). Batters on eliminated teams got hit by a pitch once every 126.7 plate appearances, which is 5.8% less often than the one plunk every 119.3 plate appearances that were experienced by teams that were still alive. But, if we include the entire wildcard era, non-eliminated team’s batters only took plunks 1.8% more often than eliminated teams. Looking back to the 1969 to 1993 divisional (excluding the freak strike years), those teams got hit 9.5% more often when they were still alive for the playoffs, compared to when they were eliminated. The wild card era plunk rate is about 72% higher than the pre-wild card division era in general, but it seems like those 70s and 80s players were really turning off the plunks if they could suddenly start getting hit 9% less often just because they’re out of the playoff race.
In the wild card era, there have actually been 5 seasons in which eliminated teams got hit MORE frequently after they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. This could have something to do with the September roster expansions and the practice of bringing up minor league pitchers to get experience when a team is out of contention – presumably some of those games would be against teams still in contention. But, the overall plunk rate from September on (1995-2010) is only 0.9% higher than the rest of the season, so there must be more to it than just the end of season call ups. Either that or my math is just wrong, but it’s easier to just ignore that possibility.

The following are the players who have taken the most HBPs for teams that had already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (since 1974). The number in parenthesis is their total career HBP (since 1974).
Jason Kendall – 18 (254)
David DeJesus – 12 (71)
Jose Guillen – 11 (145)
Damion Easley – 11 (132)
Jason LaRue – 11 (107)
Craig Wilson – 11 (90)
Juan Samuel – 10 (74)
Dave Valle – 10 (63)
Carlos Delgado – 9 (172)
Alex Rodriguez – 9 (152)
Chuck Knoblauch – 9 (139)
Larry Walker – 9 (138)
Jeff Bagwell – 9 (128)
Matt Lawton – 9 (94)
Randy Bush – 9 (49)
Edwin Encarnacion – 9 (47)
Jeromy Burnitz – 8 (78)
Gene Tenace – 8 (75)
Jerry Hairston – 8 (74)
Mike Sweeney – 8 (74)
Sal Fasano – 8 (47)
Dave Collins – 8 (38)
Chet Lemon – 7 (151)
Carlton Fisk – 7 (129)
Miguel Tejada – 7 (118)
Geoff Jenkins – 7 (96)
Gary Gaetti – 7 (96)
Frank Catalanotto – 7 (78)
Matt Stairs – 7 (57)
Jeff Conine – 7 (41)

Here’s the list of players with over 100 plunks since 1974 (because that’s how far my individual hbp database goes):
Brian Downing – 6 (129)
Melvin Mora – 6 (115)
Luis Gonzalez – 6 (111)
Reed Johnson – 6 (102)
Don Baylor – 5 (244)
Andres Galarraga – 5 (178)
Gary Sheffield – 5 (135)
Scott Rolen – 5 (120)
Mark Grudzielanek – 5 (105)
Mo Vaughn – 4 (108)
Jason Giambi – 3 (170)
David Eckstein – 3 (143)
Aaron Rowand – 3 (117)
Andre Dawson – 3 (111)
Craig Biggio – 2 (285)
Fernando Vina – 2 (157)
Brady Anderson – 2 (154)
Jeff Kent – 2 (125)
Manny Ramirez – 1 (109)
Barry Bonds – 1 (106)
Derek Jeter – 0 (152)
Chase Utley – 0 (125)

Jeter, of course, has only played in 2 career games after his team was eliminated – you know, because the Yankees cheat. Utley has only played in 9 such meaningless regular season games.

And here are the 20 guys who have gotten hit at least 50 times since 1974, but never got plunked after being eliminated from the playoffs:
Derek Jeter – 0 (152)
Chase Utley – 0 (125)
Rondell White – 0 (88)
Jorge Posada – 0 (72)
Ray Durham – 0 (72)
Greg Luzinski – 0 (72)
Bret Boone – 0 (69)
Kevin Youkilis – 0 (68)
Tim Salmon – 0 (67)
Robby Thompson – 0 (66)
Josh Willingham – 0 (64)
Carney Lansford – 0 (64)
Kirk Gibson – 0 (61)
Charlie O’Brien – 0 (60)
Nomar Garciaparra – 0 (59)
Lloyd Moseby – 0 (58)
Ivan Rodriguez – 0 (57)
Olmedo Saenz – 0 (56)
Dave Parker – 0 (54)
Roberto Alomar – 0 (50)

(Note: there may be some 1981-related weirdness in the individual player totals here, for players who played that year)