Archive for May, 2011

Weeks gets 92nd!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Rickie Weeks moved another step closer to the Brewers all time HBP record, getting his 92nd career plunk last night on a Tom Gorzelanny pitch. Gorzelanny also plunked Weeks on September 12, 1997, and he’s now the 13th pitcher to hit Rickie Weeks more than once. Weeks has been hit 12 times now by pitchers born the same year he was, 1982. This was his 13 plunking to lead off the first inning, and he’s scored runs on 5 of 13 of those. Since the beginning of 2008, no major league player has scored more runs after reaching on plunks than Rickie Weeks (18). Chase Utley has 17 in that span, and Marlon Byrd has score 16 times.

In the 9th inning of that game, Danny Espinosa continued his red hot rookie season by getting his major league leading 9th HBP. He had to leave the game though, so hopefully he’s not badly hurt and can continue his run at various rookie HBP records. He needs just two more to tie the Nationals franchise record for plunks by a rookie. Espinosa was the first batter Tim Dillard ever hit with a pitch, and Dillard is the 275th pitcher in Brewers history to throw a plunk.

Scott Rolen got his 122nd career plunk, getting hit by Cole Hamels. That gives Rolen sole possession of 43rd place on the all time HBP list, taking that spot back from Aaron Rowand. He’s been hit 27 times in the month of May.

Kevin Youkilis extended his Red Sox record plunk total, getting hit for the 73rd time.

Interleague plunk records

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Tim Hudson’s three plunk game last Friday, against the Angels, moved him past Kenny Rogers in the all time standings for hit batters in interleague games. Here’s a list of the pitchers who have hit the most batters in interleague games, through May 22, 2011:
Tim Hudson – 17
Kenny Rogers – 15
Ryan Rupe – 14
Tim Wakefield – 14
Carlos Zambrano – 14
Scott Sullivan – 13
Byung-Hyun Kim – 13
John Lackey – 13
Derek Lowe – 13
Ryan Dempster – 13
Miguel Batista – 11
Pedro Martinez – 11
Kevin Millwood – 11
Jeff Suppan – 11
Randy Wolf – 11
Aaron Sele – 10
Carl Pavano – 10
Greg Maddux – 10
Darren Oliver – 10
Ramon Ortiz – 10
Vicente Padilla – 10
Livan Hernandez – 10
A.J. Burnett – 10
Tom Glavine – 10

Nobody broke the batting HBP record for interleague plunks over the weekend, but here’s that list anyway:
Jason Kendall – 22
Jason Giambi – 19
Carlos Delgado – 18
Craig Biggio – 17
Derek Jeter – 17
Scott Rolen – 17
Melvin Mora – 16
Alex Rodriguez – 15
Aaron Rowand – 15
Miguel Tejada – 15
Juan Pierre – 14
Kevin Millar – 13
Aaron Boone – 13
Mike Redmond – 12
Torii Hunter – 12
Jose Guillen – 12
Jerry Hairston – 12
Mike Lieberthal – 12
Jason LaRue – 11
Barry Bonds – 11
Marlon Byrd – 11
Jeff Cirillo – 11
Jeff Bagwell – 11
David DeJesus – 11
Alex Cora – 11
Mark Teixeira – 11
Larry Walker – 11
Rickie Weeks – 10
Eric Young – 10
Fernando Tatis – 10
David Eckstein – 10
Jonny Gomes – 10
Luis Gonzalez – 10
Andres Galarraga – 10
Miguel Cairo – 10
Jeff Kent – 10
Andruw Jones – 10
Placido Polanco – 10

Kerry Wood retakes share of Cubs record on 19 plunk day

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

A couple of things happened on Saturday in the Cubs/Red Sox game – one was the scary face-plunking of Marlon Byrd which apparently has left him with multiple facial fractures, and the other was the full-on double rainbow of team record breaking plunks, where Carlos Zambrano broke the Cubs all time plunk record hitting Kevin Youkilis, who was at the same time breaking the Red Sox plunk record. So one scary plunk, one inspiring record breaking plunk. Which lesson would the rest of the league take away from that? They went out and got hit by 19 pitches on Sunday – the most HBPs on a day of baseball since August 4, 2009.

Kerry Wood apparently didn’t like having Zambrano break his Cubs record for hitting batters, because he went and plunked Jed Lowrie to push his career total to 96 and his Cubs career total to 90 – tying Zambrano for the most in Cubs history. The media seems to think that might have been more pay back for the Byrd plunking, but Wood wanting to take the record back makes a lot more sense to me.

Rickie Weeks may also have been inspired by the historic Saturday HBP, and he may have realized he hasn’t been making much progress toward the Brewers all time plunk record this year, with only 3 HBPs going into yesterday. But, Ubaldo Jimenez threw a pitch Weeks could get hit by in the 3rd inning, pushing him to 91 career plunks. He needs just 4 more to tie Geoff Jenkins for the Brewers record. That was Weeks’ 16th plunk on a Sunday, which is the team record Sunday plunks, and his 3rd plunk against the Rockies, which is not the team record. Weeks would have to get hit 6 more times by the Rockies to tie Geoff Jenkins for the Brewers record for plunkings against Colorado. Weeks had never previously been plunked by a pitcher whose first initial was “U”, or whose last initial was “J”.

Speaking of inspired plunking-taking, Nationals rookie 2nd baseman Danny Espinosa got plunked for the 8th time this year, tying Carlos Quentin for the season lead. Espinosa appears to be following in the footsteps of great National League 2nd baseman who get hit by a lot of pitches, like Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent, Chase Utley, and the previously mentioned Rickie Weeks. Baltimore’s Chris Tillman threw that one. Espinosa needs 4 more plunks to break the Nationals franchise record for HBPs by a rookie, which is currently 11, set in 1996 by FP Santangelo when the team was the Expos. Espinosa has 8 plunks through 46 games, and in the last 30 years of baseball, 96.4% of players who had been hit 8 times at the 46 game mark finished the season with at least 12 HBPs.

Javy Guerra hit Gordon Beckham in Chicago, for the 997th plunk in US Cellular Field history. That was Guerra’s first major league plunk.

Mike Pelfrey threw his 41st career plunk, tying Dwight Gooden for 4th place on the Mets all time hit batters list.

weeks 16th on sunday

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Zambrano/Youkilis plunk breaks BOTH team records!

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Here’s the setup – the Chicago Cubs were visiting the Boston Red Sox for the first time since the 1918 World Series. The baseball world was excited enough about that alone – last nights game was nationally televised on FOX. But what they didn’t tell you is that both teams had players on the brink of a record. Kevin Youkilis entered the game tied for the Red Sox all time record for getting hit by pitches with 71 career plunkings. But he’s been stuck at 71 since May 4th – it’s like he was waiting for something. So that brings us back to last night, with the Cubs in town and Carlos Zambrano starting for Chicago. Carlos Zambrano came into the game with 89 career hit batters, tied with Kerry Wood for the most plunks thrown in Cubs history. Zambrano has been stuck on 89 hit batters, since May 4th – he tied the Cubs record on the same night Youkilis tied the Red Sox record. But neither of them were involved in a plunk since, as the steel of history and the magnet of fate were pulling slowly toward each other. Plunkings were clearly in the air last night – Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves hit the first batter of the game (Kosuke Fukudome) after only 2 pitches, and in the 2nd inning Aceves hit Marlon Byrd in the face with a shot that sent Byrd to the hospital. But Zambrano walked Youkilis in the first inning and gave up a single to him in the 4th as the two danced around and flirted with the historic event that had to happen. But then it came – the 5th inning – the HBP that had to happen. For Zambrano, it was number 90 of his career – making him the first Cubs pitcher to hit 90 batters. For Youkilis, it was number 72, breaking the Red Sox plunk record held since 1998 by Mo Vaughn. One pitch, two team plunk records. One amazing night.

Youkilis’ plunk was his 40th at Fenway Park, and Zambrano has now hit 4 batters on May 21st. Since Zambrano entered the league in 2001, only Tim Wakefield, Vicente Padilla, and Jeff Weaver have hit more batter, although AJ Burnett has also hit 90.

In other action last night, Albert Pujols got his 75th career plunk. He needs 4 more to tie Fernando Vina for 2nd place on the Cardinals all time plunks list.

12 interleague plunks

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Tim Hudson put his hatred of the American League on display last night, plunking three batters, although they all paid him back by scoring runs after reaching base. Hudson is only the 4th Braves pitcher to hit 3 batters in a game, since they moved to Atlanta, and he’s the first Braves pitcher to hit three American League batters in a game. Those were his 87th (Erick Aybar), 88th (Peter Bourjos) and 89th (Maicer Izturis) career plunks.

However, Hudson is still one plunk behind the 2011 major league leader, and that’s just because his former Braves teammate Jo-Jo Reyes hit his 6th batter of the season. That was the first time ever that a Blue Jays pitcher hit an Astros batter (Chris Johnson).

Speaking of firsts, Marlon Byrd become the first Cubs batter ever plunked by the Red Sox, and then he became the first Cubs batter ever plunked twice by the Red Sox. (Unless you want to count post-season plunks, and then the first Cub plunked by the Red Sox was Max Flack on September 3, 1918, who got plunked by some guy named George Herman Ruth.) That’s just the 2nd 2-plunk game for a Cub in interleague play (Mark Grudzeilanek had the other on June 3, 2003 against Tampa Bay).

Dave Bush threw his 80th career plunk last night, hitting Jimmy Rollins; and that was the 400th HBP of the 2011 season, by my count.

Jason Werth got his 33rd career plunk last night, from Baltimore pitcher Jason Berken. But yesterday was Werth’s birthday and it was an RBI plunk. Werth is the first batter this year to get plunked on his birthday and the 5th of the DH era to get an RBI plunk on his birthday. Interestingly, the last batter to get an RBI plunk on his birthday was also named Jason, and was also facing the Orioles at the time – Jason Bay, on September 20th, 2009.

Shin-Soo Choo also got an RBI plunk yesterday, off Travis Wood of the Reds. That was the 70th RBI plunk in interleague history, and the 5th for the Indians. The Indians trail only the Brewers for most RBI plunks in interleague play, but the Brewers have done that 6 times.

Nick Swisher got hit by RA Dickey in the Mets/Yankees game, and that was the 50th plunk in subway-series history.

Ryan Braun became the first batter this year to get hit by a pitch, and then get picked off first base.

standings in games with HBPs

Friday, May 20th, 2011

League wide plunk rates are down again this year, with batters getting hit about once every 127 plate appearances, compared to one per 119.8 plate appearances last year (for the full year). This is the 5th consecutive year that the plunk rate has dropped, but I still don’t understand why this would be so, since it’s so easy to show that getting hit by pitches leads to winning. It could be that pitchers have caught on to this, and are taking greater care to not hit opposing batters, but the batters need to adjust and get those HBP rates up again. Here’s why – this year teams have won 59.5% of games in which they get at least 1 HBP, and they’ve won only 46.7% of games in which they don’t get hit by any pitches.

The team with the biggest win percentage swing between games when they get hit by pitches and games when they don’t belongs to the Mets. They win at a .857 clip when they get hit by pitches, but have a dismal .417 record when they don’t. Unfortunately, they don’t take advantage of this – they’ve only been plunked in 7 games, and are currently on a 20 game plunkless streak*.

23 out of 30 major league teams have a winning record in games when they get hit by at least one pitch, and only 6 teams have a worse winning percentage when they get hit by a pitch than when they don’t. The Astros are slightly better when they get hit by a pitch, but they’re bad enough that the HBP help doesn’t get them over .500. The Mariners are the worst team at turning plunks into victory – they fall from a .486 win percentage when they remain un-plunked to a .286 win percentage when they do get hit by pitches.

Here’s the league standings, in order of win percentage in games with at least 1 HBP (along with their records in 0 plunk games, and overall records).

Team HBPs > 0 0 HBPs Difference Total
Mets 6-1 (.857) 15-21 (.417) .440 21-22 (.488)
Braves 4-1 (.800) 21-20 (.512) .288 25-21 (.543)
A’s 11-3 (.786) 11-19 (.367) .419 22-22 (.500)
Blue Jays 6-2 (.750) 16-19 (.457) .293 22-21 (.512)
Rockies 9-3 (.750) 14-16 (.467) .283 23-19 (.548)
Cardinals 11-4 (.733) 15-15 (.500) .233 26-19 (.578)
Royals 8-3 (.727) 12-19 (.387) .340 20-22 (.476)
Tigers 5-2 (.714) 17-19 (.472) .242 22-21 (.512)
Dbacks 7-3 (.700) 13-21 (.382) .318 20-24 (.455)
Padres 6-3 (.667) 13-21 (.382) .284 19-24 (.442)
Angels 6-3 (.667) 16-20 (.444) .222 22-23 (.489)
Giants 10-5 (.667) 14-14 (.500) .167 24-19 (.558)
Rays 6-3 (.667) 19-16 (.543) .124 25-19 (.568)
Indians 8-4 (.667) 18-11 (.621) .046 26-15 (.634)
RedSox 8-5 (.615) 17-14 (.548) .067 25-19 (.568)
Phillies 8-5 (.615) 18-12 (.600) .015 26-17 (.605)
Brewers 6-4 (.600) 15-19 (.441) .159 21-23 (.477)
Rangers 6-4 (.600) 17-17 (.500) .100 23-21 (.523)
RedSox 7-5 (.583) 16-15 (.516) .067 23-20 (.535)
Marlins 7-5 (.583) 17-13 (.567) .017 24-18 (.571)
Yankees 11-8 (.579) 12-11 (.522) .057 23-19 (.548)
WhiteSox 9-9 (.500) 11-16 (.407) .093 20-25 (.444)
Orioles 6-6 (.500) 13-17 (.433) .067 19-23 (.452)
Cubs 5-6 (.455) 14-16 (.467) -.012 19-22 (.463)
Astros 5-7 (.417) 10-22 (.313) .104 15-29 (.341)
Pirates 2-3 (.400) 18-20 (.474) -.074 20-23 (.465)
Nationals 4-7 (.364) 16-16 (.500) -.136 20-23 (.465)
Dodgers 5-9 (.357) 14-16 (.467) -.110 19-25 (.432)
Twins 3-6 (.333) 12-21 (.364) -.030 15-27 (.357)
Mariners 2-5 (.286) 17-18 (.486) -.200 19-23 (.452)
Total 197-134 (.595) 451-514 (.467) .128 648-648 (.500)

*(The Mets are actually 11-9 in their current 20 game plunkless streak, but who’s counting?)

Reed Johnson gets 107th HBP

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Of the 4,125 pitches thrown yesterday, only 11 of them hit a batter, and only one of them hit Reed Johnson for his 107th career plunk.  That puts Johnson into a logjam at 60th place on the all time HBP list, tied with Pete Rose, Jason LaRue, and Wally Schang.  Johnson is now tied for 2nd place in National League plunks this year, with 5.  Prince Fielder and Ben Francisco also have 5 plunks this year, and Danny Espinosa still leads the NL with 7.

Carlos Pena got hit by a pitch against the Marlins, and that was the 50th time the Cubs have been plunked by Marlins pitchers.  Cubs pitchers have hit the Marlins 74 times, but they didn’t add to that total yesterday.

Alexei Ramirez got his 7th career HBP last night, but it was the 2nd time he’s been hit by Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona.   Both teams’ shortstops were plunked in the first inning of that game, with Asdrubal Cabrera being hit by Gavin Floyd.  US Cellular Field is now up to 995 HBPs in park history.

Dempster throws 80th

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

There were 14 batters hit by pitches in yesterday’s major league baseball games, and one of them was a pitch Ryan Dempster threw that hit opposing pitcher Ricky Nolasco.  That pitch wast the 80th hit batter of Dempster’s career, and his 35th for the Cubs.  Nolasco had never been hit by a pitch before.

Prince Fielder got his 73rd career plunk, on a pitch from Dustin Moseley of the Padres.  Of Fielder’s 73 HBPs, this was only the 9th recorded in the month of May.

Update:  Also, Jon Lucroy had a bases loaded plunk in the 6th inning, driving in the go-ahead run.  That was the first RBI plunk for the Brewers since July 3rd of last year, and the first RBI plunk in the 6th inning or later since June 10, 2007.  It was also the 50th RBI plunk in Brewers history.

Settle down about Jose Bautista

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I was just reading the Sweetspot blog on espn, and noticed that it’s probably a good time to talk about home run difficulty ratings, so maybe people will stop flipping out about Jose Bautista, and whether he’s going to break the home run record, and whether it means he’s on PEDs or something. ‘Cause he might just be running up his home run numbers against pitchers who give up a lot of homers, but we wouldn’t notice that, would we, because we treat every home run equally. Which is kind of silly, given that we have the data to do better in this day and age. We have websites that tell us how much break each curveball had in every game, but we still go around thinking hitting a homer off Roy Halladay and hitting a homer off Colby Lewis should count the same when we’re trying to project for the rest of the season. Sure, they both count as one in the home run total, but if you’re going to look at someone’s home runs part way through the year and project it through the rest of the season, it might be a good idea to consider whether or not he’s likely to face the same quality of pitching for the rest of the year. And when you factor in the quality of pitchers Bautista has homered off so far this year, he’s not really far out of line with the rest of the league leaders.

So this looks like a job for Home Run Equivalent Difficulty. Here’s the top 10 this year:

Batter HR HRed*
Jay Bruce 8 13.4
Jose Bautista 16 12.6
Ryan Braun 12 11.3
Paul Konerko 10 10.6
Troy Tulowitzki 11 10.4
Lance Berkman 11 10.1
Adrian Beltre 10 9.8
Ryan Howard 9 9.8
Curtis Granderson 14 9.6
Robinson Cano 9 9.4

So yeah, Jose Bautista is having a great season – 16 home runs. But only 5 of them have been against pitchers who prevent home runs at better than the league average rate per plate appearance. Major League pitchers are giving up homers about once every 43.1 plate appearances this year, but the best pitcher Bautista has homered off only gives up a homer every 50.6 plate appearances (David Price -though Bautista did get 2 off him). He’s hit homers off James Hoey (14.7 bf per HR), Colby Lewis (18.3 bf per HR – 12 homers allowed to lead the AL), Joe Nathan (20.6 bf per HR), Freddy Garcia (26 bf per HR), and AJ Burnett (26.1 bf per HR). In all, half of Bautista’s homers have been hit against pitchers who give up homers at least 50% more often than the major league average. He still hit them though – so he’s still having an awesome season – but it seems like if he’s hit this many homers against homer-prone pitchers, he might be spending more time facing easier pitching now than he will for the rest of the season.

*- HRed is calculated by taking each home run, calculating the rate of batters faced per home run allowed for the pitcher who gave it up, dividing that by the league average, and adding them all up.   So his homer against Colby Lewis is only worth about .4 homers against average pitching, the way I figure it.  And, his 16 homers are only equal to about 12.6 homers against average pitchers.  These numbers are all subject to change though – any of those pitchers who looks like they give up a lot of homers right now might drastically improve by the end of the season, and maybe the feat of homering off Colby Lewis will look more difficult.  And of course maybe Bautista will continue to get enough chances against pitchers who give up a lot of homers to continue his home run pace and crank out 65.  I’m not saying that can’t happen.  I’m just saying the 16 he has so far were hit off relatively easy pitchers to homer against.

Also, he’s only got 1 HBP this year, so he’s clearly doing something wrong based on that alone.

Twins and Mariners hit each other 200 times (not in one game)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Felix Hernandez hit Alexi Casilla in the game between the Mariners and Twins, and that was the 200th plunk ever recorded in a game between those teams. Hernandez now has 37 hit batters, moving him into 5th place on the Mariners all time list, ahead of Freddy Garcia, Ryan Franklin and Joel Piniero. 23 of those have been at Safeco Field – that’s the 2nd most in park history, 4 behind Jamie Moyer‘s park record. Francisco Liriano hit Brendan Ryan later in that game, giving the teams 201 plunks against each other. That was number 20 for Liriano’s career.

Aramis Ramirez got his 81st career plunk, and his 49th for the Cubs. That moves him ahead of Andy Pafko on the Cubs all time HBP list into sole possession of 5th place. Edinson Volquez threw that one, and it was the 5th time he hit someone playing third base – or the 5 position if your scoring at home.