Archive for March 6th, 2012

knuckle plunks – the 186 plunks of Tim Wakefield

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

(and the other 9 too)

When batters get hit by pitches, it can cause a lot of arguments. Often players and fans on one side will be very sure that the pitcher threw that pitch fully intending to hit that batter, and was trying to hurt him. But from 1992 to 2011, Tim Wakefield hit 186 batters in the regular season and another 9 in the postseason, and there probably isn’t a single person who thinks any of them were thrown intentionally. And we can all be pretty sure that Wake never threw a knuckleball that he thought was going to knock down a batter and teach him a lesson. No – the arguments caused by Wake’s throws is the other HBP argument – the one about the rule that says batters are supposed to make an effort to get out of the way of the pitch. Yet somehow, 195 batters failed to get out of the way of a 60 mph knuckleballs, and according to the umpires, they were all trying to evade those pitches. I think the only logical conclusion is that those knucklers were so unpredictable and confusing that batters had no idea which way to dodge. No idea if the pitch was going to hit them, or break back into the strikezone, or take a hard right turn and shoot into the third base dugout.

Whether or not he intended any of them though, Wakefield achieved greatness. Greatness in racking up a very large number of hit batters. In case you don’t have this list pasted onto your blog, here’s the all time list for hit batters in a Major League career:

Gus Weyhing – 277
Chick Fraser – 219
Pink Hawley – 210
Walter Johnson – 205
Eddie Plank – 190
Randy Johnson – 190
Tim Wakefield – 186
Tony Mullane – 185
Joe McGinnity – 179
Charlie Hough – 174

If you don’t remember seeing a lot of those guys pitch, it’s because only three of them were born after the United States expanded to 40 states. Aside from Charlie Hough, Wakefield, and Randy Johnson; Walter Johnson is the youngest player in that group, and he was born two years before the Dakotas were admitted to the union. Among his living rivals, Randy Johnson is the only pitcher to hit more batters than Wakefield, but that’s only if we exclude their work in the Postseason. Wakefield out-plunked the Big Unit in the playoffs 9 to 0, giving Wake a 195 to 190 lead. Only Greg Maddux has hit as many batters in the postseason as Wakefield, and only Wake has hit 9 batters in the postseason, all with one team (He managed not to hit anyone in his postseason appearances for the Pirates). Wakefield’s 9 HBPs is also the American League record for hit batters in the postseason.

Wakefield’s departure from the league would have meant that there were no longer any active pitchers who hit a batter in Fulton County Stadium, or who hit five Brewers when the Brewers played in the American League. However, Jamie Moyer is attempting to come back, and he did both those things. Without Tim Wakefield the league no longer includes a pitcher who ever plunked Mike Macfarlane, Otis Nixon, Bobby Bonilla, or Cecil Fielder. Or Jeff Frye, or Ron Karkovice, or Mike Benjamin, or Luis Sojo, Terry Steinbach or Mike Blowers. Or Ozzie Smith, or Tim Raines. He leaves Derek Lowe as the last active pitcher who ever plunked Bernie Williams, and he leaves Miguel Batista as the only active pitcher who plunked Cal Ripken, or Jose Canseco.

Along with the 7th most plunks ever, Wakefield leaves the game with the lovely parting gifts of the record for most plunks ever for a pitcher born in Florida, most plunks ever against Designated Hitters, and most plunks ever for teams in the American League East. Wake threw 176 plunks while in the AL East, which is 30 more than the 2nd place pitcher, Roger Clemens. Among active pitchers, the next closest pitcher to Wakefield’s AL East record is AJ Burnett with 67. The closest active pitcher who still plays for an AL East team is Josh Beckett with 48. He’s hit 88 more batters than any other pitcher born in Florida.
Wakefield hit 22 designated hitters in his career, and that’s 7 plunks more than any other pitcher throwing at DHs. Charlie Hough and Frank Tanana hit 15 each. CC Sabathia is the active leader with 13, but Jamie Moyer has hit that many too.

Wakefield also owns the Red Sox career plunk record and the Fenway Park plunk record. He hit 90 batters at Fenway Park – twice as many as any other pitcher. His 176 plunks for the Red Sox are 13 more than the combined Red Sox total of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez (2nd and 3rd on the team’s plunk list). In baseball history, only Walter Johnson and Eddie Plank threw more plunks for a single franchise.

Also in Wakefield’s metaphorical trophy cabinet is the career record for hitting Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays scored 30 HBPs off Wakefield pitches, making him the first pitcher to hit the same team 30 times since Walter Johnson. (I don’t know who Johnson hit that many times, but he only had 7 teams to hit, and threw 205 plunks. 7×29=203, so he had to have cracked 30 plunks against at least one team.) Among remaining active players, the most anyone has plunked as single team is Jamey Wright‘s 21 against the Pirates.

Of course the down side of all those hit batters is that they all got on base. Of the 186 batters Wake put on base via HBP in the regular season, 59 of them scored runs. That’s 7 more runs than the 190 batters Randy Johnson plunked scored. 31.7% of the batters Wakefield hit in the regular season scored runs, while the average plunked batter only scored a run 27.1% of the time since 1992. But Wake stepped up in the postseason, only allowing 1 run on his 9 postseason plunks. Also, he was fairly good at not hitting batters with the bases loaded – he only did that 3 times.

Somehow, among the 186 plunks Wakefield threw in the regular season, there was only one where the batter had never taken a major league plunk before. That was Juan Miranda on September 28, 2008. In the seasons Wakefield participated in, there were 1,497 batters who got hit for the first time, but somehow Wakefield only threw one of those. On the other end of the spectrum, he threw the final plunk in the careers of Doug Jennings, Mike Blowers, Rafael Bornigal, and Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken’s final plunk resulted in the last time he ever scored a run.

I could keep this up for another month, but I guess we need to start life without Tim Wakefield being an active part of Major League Baseball.  Left behind are the record books listing the 149 different players on 24 teams who somehow failed to get out of the way of Wakefield’s pitches, a grand total of 195 times.  Below is the full list of every Major League HBP thrown by Tim Wakefield.

The Pittsburgh Years

Plunk# Game Date Batter Team Notes
1 9/2/1992 Matt Williams Giants
2 4/11/1993 Mike Benjamin Giants
3 4/27/1993 David Justice Braves
4 4/27/1993 Rafael Belliard Braves First of 24 multiple plunk games, including the postseason
5 5/4/1993 Jeff Blauser Braves
6 5/21/1993 Ozzie Smith Cardinals
7 6/14/1993 Geronimo Pena Cardinals base loaded
8 9/18/1993 Geronimo Pena Cardinals first of 39 batters who would get hit at least twice by Wakefield, including postseason
9 9/26/1993 Doug Jennings Cubs
10 9/30/1993 Kevin Stocker Phillies

The Red Sox Years

11 6/4/1995 Dan Wilson Mariners
12 6/9/1995 Rickey Henderson A’s
13 7/19/1995 Ron Karkovice White Sox
14 7/24/1995 Chuck Knoblauch Twins
15 8/23/1995 Tim Salmon Angels
16 8/23/1995 Rex Hudler Angels
17 9/3/1995 Rex Hudler Angels
18 9/13/1995 Chris Hoiles Orioles
19 10/1/1995 Jeff Cirillo Brewers
P1 10/6/1995 Manny Ramirez Indians ALDS Game 3 – Wakes first postseason plunk
20 5/11/1996 Otis Nixon Blue Jays
21 5/22/1996 Edgar Martinez Mariners
22 6/1/1996 Russ Davis Mariners
23 6/1/1996 Luis Sojo Mariners
24 6/22/1996 Ivan Rodriguez Rangers
25 7/20/1996 Mark Smith Orioles
26 7/25/1996 Chuck Knoblauch Twins
27 7/25/1996 Pat Meares Twins
28 8/21/1996 Terry Steinbach A’s
29 8/31/1996 Mark McGwire A’s
30 9/11/1996 John Jaha Brewers
31 9/25/1996 Bobby Bonilla Orioles
32 5/8/1997 Pat Meares Twins
33 5/14/1997 Mike Sweeney Royals
34 5/26/1997 Jose Valentin Brewers
35 5/31/1997 Joe Girardi Yankees
36 6/5/1997 Mike Matheny Brewers
37 6/25/1997 Charlie O’Brien Blue Jays
38 6/25/1997 Alex Gonzalez Blue Jays
39 7/13/1997 Carlos Garcia Blue Jays
40 7/23/1997 Jose Canseco A’s
41 8/3/1997 Mike Macfarlane Royals
42 8/16/1997 Scott Stahoviak Twins
43 8/20/1997 Rafael Bournigal A’s
44 9/13/1997 Gerald Williams Brewers
45 9/18/1997 Shannon Stewart Blue Jays
46 9/18/1997 Shannon Stewart Blue Jays The first of only 3 times Wakefield hit the same batter twice in a game
47 9/27/1997 Juan Samuel Blue Jays
48 4/2/1998 Mike Blowers A’s
49 4/7/1998 Cecil Fielder Angels
50 5/5/1998 Matt Lawton Twins
51 5/5/1998 Matt Lawton Twins
52 5/24/1998 Tim Raines Yankees
53 6/1/1998 Ed Sprague Blue Jays
54 6/17/1998 Magglio Ordonez White Sox
55 6/22/1998 Scott Rolen Phillies
56 7/11/1998 Jeff Reboulet Orioles
57 7/28/1998 Rafael Bournigal A’s
58 8/8/1998 Juan Gonzalez Rangers
59 8/30/1998 Gary Disarcina Angels
60 9/4/1998 Shannon Stewart Blue Jays
61 9/9/1998 Bernie Williams Yankees
P2 9/30/1998 Manny Ramirez CLE ALDS Game 2 – 2nd postseason plunk, both against Manny Ramirez*.
62 5/17/1999 Shannon Stewart Blue Jays base loaded
63 5/22/1999 Tony Fernandez Blue Jays
64 9/7/1999 John Jaha A’s
65 9/19/1999 Brad Ausmus Tigers
66 9/26/1999 Brady Anderson Orioles base loaded
67 6/3/2000 Alex Arias Phillies
68 8/22/2000 Bengie Molina Angels
69 9/15/2000 Juan Encarnacion Tigers
70 9/26/2000 Tony Graffanino White Sox
71 4/10/2001 Fernando Lunar Orioles
72 5/13/2001 Olmedo Saenz A’s
73 5/27/2001 Shannon Stewart Blue Jays
74 6/2/2001 Jeff Frye Blue Jays
75 6/7/2001 Damion Easley Tigers
76 6/13/2001 Alex Gonzalez Marlins
77 6/29/2001 Alex Gonzalez Blue Jays Consecutive plunks against different Alex Gonzalez’s
78 7/12/2001 Edgardo Alfonzo Mets
79 7/22/2001 Ray Durham White Sox
80 7/28/2001 Herb Perry White Sox
81 8/4/2001 Bill Haselman Rangers
82 8/4/2001 Mike Lamb Rangers
83 8/12/2001 Jeff Conine Orioles
84 8/26/2001 Michael Young Rangers
85 9/7/2001 Chuck Knoblauch Yankees
86 9/21/2001 Jose Macias Tigers
87 9/27/2001 Cal Ripken Orioles Oldest batter Wakefield ever hit – 41.1 years old, also Ripken’s final HBP
88 9/30/2001 Deivi Cruz Tigers
89 5/11/2002 Jeff Cirillo Mariners
90 5/16/2002 Eric Byrnes A’s
91 6/8/2002 Jose Guillen Diamondbacks
92 7/7/2002 Brandon Inge Tigers
93 7/18/2002 Brent Abernathy Rays
94 7/23/2002 Brent Abernathy Rays
95 7/31/2002 David Eckstein Angels
96 8/6/2002 Jermaine Dye A’s
97 9/28/2002 Carl Crawford Rays Broke Red Sox record for Career hit batters – also youngest batter Wakefield hit – 21.15 years old
98 4/6/2003 Tony Batista Orioles Ties Jack Billingham for most plunks by a pitcher born in Florida
99 4/18/2003 Shannon Stewart Blue Jays 6th HBP to Shannon Stewart
100 4/23/2003 Alex Rodriguez Rangers
101 4/29/2003 Ken Harvey Royals
102 5/16/2003 Tim Salmon Angels
103 6/12/2003 Eduardo Perez Cardinals
104 8/3/2003 Jeff Conine Orioles
105 8/9/2003 Luis Matos Orioles
106 8/31/2003 Nick Johnson Yankees
107 9/13/2003 Carl Everett White Sox 50th plunk at Fenway Park for Wakefield
108 9/18/2003 Rocco Baldelli Rays
109 9/28/2003 Damian Rolls Rays
P3 10/2/2003 Jermaine Dye OAK ALDS game 2 – Breaks Red Sox postseason plunk record
P4 10/2/2003 Mark Ellis OAK ALDS Game 2
P5 10/13/2003 David Dellucci NYA ALCS game 4 – Becomes first AL pitcher to hit 5 postseason batters while pitching for one team
110 5/2/2004 Mark Teixeira Rangers
111 5/7/2004 Ken Harvey Royals
112 5/7/2004 Matt Stairs Royals
113 5/12/2004 Matt Lawton Indians 1st regular season plunk against the Indians
114 5/23/2004 Reed Johnson Blue Jays
115 6/30/2004 Miguel Cairo Yankees
116 6/30/2004 Gary Sheffield Yankees
117 7/11/2004 Alfonso Soriano Rangers
118 8/18/2004 Frank Catalanotto Blue Jays
119 8/24/2004 Frank Menechino Blue Jays
120 8/24/2004 Chris Gomez Blue Jays
121 9/4/2004 Brian Jordan Rangers
122 9/9/2004 Jolbert Cabrera Mariners
123 9/9/2004 Jolbert Cabrera Mariners
124 9/20/2004 Melvin Mora Orioles
125 9/25/2004 Miguel Cairo Yankees
P6 10/23/2004 Albert Pujols SLN World Series game 1 – ties Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens for AL postseason plunks record
126 4/22/2005 Jonny Gomes Rays
127 4/29/2005 Kevin Mench Rangers
128 5/27/2005 Alex Rodriguez Yankees
129 6/1/2005 Chris Gomez Orioles
130 6/6/2005 Larry Walker Cardinals
131 6/18/2005 Jason Bay Pirates
132 7/5/2005 Michael Young Rangers
133 9/21/2005 Eric Munson Rays
134 9/21/2005 Carl Crawford Rays
135 9/21/2005 Julio Lugo Rays Only 3 plunk game of his career
136 9/27/2005 Vernon Wells Blue Jays 20th Blue Jay Plunked
P7 10/7/2005 Scott Podsednik CHA ALDS Game 3 – Breaks AL record for postseason plunks
P8 10/7/2005 Carl Everett CHA ALDS Game 3 – Ties Greg Maddux for MLB postseason plunk record
137 4/9/2006 Melvin Mora Orioles
138 4/9/2006 Chris Gomez Orioles
139 5/6/2006 Ramon Hernandez Orioles
140 6/20/2006 Damian Jackson Nationals
141 6/26/2006 Shane Victorino Phillies
142 7/1/2006 Miguel Olivo Marlins
143 7/6/2006 Julio Lugo Rays
144 7/17/2006 Emil Brown Royals
145 9/25/2006 Bengie Molina Blue Jays
146 9/25/2006 Jason Phillips Blue Jays
147 5/4/2007 Joe Mauer Twins
148 5/26/2007 Frank Catalanotto Rangers
149 6/1/2007 Josh Phelps Yankees Wakefield’s only plunk against an Alaskan
150 6/6/2007 Mark Ellis A’s
P8 10/16/2007 Kelly Shoppach CLE ALCS game 4 – Re-ties Greg Maddux for most plunks in postseason history
151 4/4/2008 David Eckstein Blue Jays
152 4/10/2008 Ivan Rodriguez Tigers
153 4/10/2008 Gary Sheffield Tigers
154 4/25/2008 Jonny Gomes Rays
155 5/1/2008 Vernon Wells Blue Jays
156 5/1/2008 Scott Rolen Blue Jays 25th Blue Jay plunked
157 5/17/2008 Bill Hall Brewers Breaks Roger Clemens record for AL East plunks
158 6/20/2008 Ryan Ludwick Cardinals
159 7/26/2008 Jose Molina Yankees
160 9/6/2008 Frank Catalanotto Rangers Breaks Roger Clemens record for most HBPs by a player with the astrological sign Leo
161 9/23/2008 Kelly Shoppach Indians
162 9/28/2008 Brett Gardner Yankees
163 9/28/2008 Juan Miranda Yankees
164 4/10/2009 Torii Hunter Angels
165 4/22/2009 Alexi Casilla Twins
166 4/22/2009 Denard Span Twins
167 4/27/2009 Shin-Soo Choo Indians
168 5/2/2009 Dioner Navarro Rays
169 5/7/2009 David Dellucci Indians
170 5/7/2009 Ben Francisco Indians
171 5/13/2009 Howie Kendrick Angels
172 5/29/2009 Alexis Rios Blue Jays
173 9/30/2009 John McDonald Blue Jays
174 4/20/2010 Matt Treanor Rangers
175 6/13/2010 Shane Victorino Phillies
176 7/20/2010 Mark Ellis A’s
177 7/20/2010 Kurt Suzuki A’s
178 7/30/2010 Miguel Cabrera Tigers
179 6/1/2011 Paul Konerko White Sox
180 6/8/2011 Robinson Cano Yankees
181 7/24/2011 Brendan Ryan Mariners
182 7/29/2011 Gordon Beckham White Sox
183 9/7/2011 Eric Thames Blue Jays
184 9/7/2011 Jose Bautista Blue Jays
185 9/13/2011 Eric Thames Blue Jays 30th Blue Jay plunked
186 9/18/2011 Sean Rodriguez Rays

* – Manny Ramirez was on the field for all 9 of Wakefield’s post season plunks – twice in the batters box, and 7 times in left field.

PS – Wakefield never hit an opposing pitcher, but he did get hit himself once – June 6, 2003 against Wayne Franklin of the Brewers.

The most plunked batters born on March 6th

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

78 hbp – Willie Stargell, born 03/06/1940, 156th all time, played from 1962 to 1982
42 hbp – Clint Barmes, born 03/06/1979, 550th all time, played from 2003 to 2011
20 hbp – Cookie Rojas, born 03/06/1939, 1456th all time, played from 1962 to 1977
14 hbp – Marcus Thames, born 03/06/1977, 1937th all time, played from 2002 to 2011
12 hbp – Bill Sweeney, born 03/06/1886, 2154th all time, played from 1907 to 1914