As you may have heard, there is expected to be a baseball season in 2011, and it should be starting pretty soon. That mean, before we know it there could be HBP records getting broken, and important things like that we won’t want to miss. So, here are some franchise HBP records that are probably going to be broken.
First, the locks. If you’re in Vegas in the next couple of weeks, and you stop by the Plunxor Hotel and Casino, and visit their sports book devoted entirely to HBPs (all of which may only exist in my imagination), these are the ones you can safely bet on.
Red Sox franchise HBP record (71): Mo Vaughn holds this one, but Kevin Youkilis enters the season with 68 Red Sox plunks. He’s usually good for about a dozen plunks a year, so the only thing that will keep him from breaking this record is an injury, or an unexpected change in batting style. He’s cracked the 4 HBP mark by the end of May in three of the last 4 seasons, so this shouldn’t take long.
Brewers franchise HBP record (95): This record has stood since way back in 2007! Geoff Jenkins has withstood… well, no other challenges to his Brewers HBP record in that time. Until now – Rickie Weeks is up to 87, and if this season is anything like last year, he’ll have no trouble getting 9 more and becoming the Brewers all time leader in bruises. Last year he got his 9th plunk of the season on June 9th, so if you want to get really specific about your HBP gambling, that might be a good date to pick for when he’ll break the record.
Next up, are the pretty good chances. These could go either way. Even money. Maybe. It all depends.
Indians Franchise HBP Record (79): This one actually is historic. The only Indian to get hit by 79 pitches was Nap Lajoie, who finished off that total in 1914. It’s taken 97 years, but Travis Hafner could break it this year if he can stay on the field enough to get hit by 10 pitches. He got hit 12 times last year, but that was his first double digit HBP year since 2004.
Mets Franchise HBP Record (41): Ron Hunt has owned the Mets franchise record for HBPs since September 9, 1963 when he got his 11th career plunk. Frank Thomas is the only other person ever to own that record, and he only had it because he led the Mets in 1962. But, David Wright has 30 HBPs for the Mets. The problem here is that he’s never been hit more than 7 times in a season. And that was 2005. But, maybe he spent some time reading the internet in the offseason and found some sites that talked about how important HBPs can be in baseball. Maybe he’s gearing up for a career year. Maybe he’s been watching tape of the great ones – Biggio, Kendall, Baylor, Hunt. Yeah well, it’s not impossible.
Next – long shots. Probably not going to happen this year, but not totally out of the question.
Cardinals Franchise Plunk Record (87): This one is even older than the Indians record. Steve Evans got his 87th Cardinals plunk in 1913. But, Albert Pujols finished last year on 73. Maybe the big sticking point in those big money contract negotiations was the Cardinals management saying “Sure you’re putting up mind boggling power hitting numbers – but where are the HBPs?”. He’s never had more than 10 in a season but he could crank out a 15 plunk season.
Marlins Franchise Plunk Record (51): Well come on, why can’t Alex Gonzalez keep this one record? What else does he have? Time marches on, and eventually this record too will be broken. Hanley Ramirez would need 17 HBPs to break the record this year, and though he’s never shown any interest in getting hit by pitches before, maybe he’ll… get hit by a lot of pitches for no particular reason? Why not.
If you’re looking for a real long shot, try one of these: Evan Longoria needs 20 to break the Rays record, Chase Headley needs 23 to break the Padres record, and Ian Kinsler is 24 away from the Rangers record. Those… will probably all take 2 or 3 years at least for any of those guys, but it’s certainly possible for some players to get hit that many times in a season. Like if there was a real life version of the movie “face off” but instead of Nick Cage and John Travolta changing faces for some reason, Ian Kinsler and Rickie Weeks trade there abilities to get hit by pitches. Than Ian Kinsler might break the Rangers record. And, we would have a blockbuster movie on our hands.
If you’re a REAL gambler, maybe you want to take the long odds and try one of these: Brandon Inge only needs 51 more HBPs to break Bill Freehan‘s record for the Tigers. Michael Cuddyer could break the Twins record if he got hit 61 times this year. That would be unprecedented. But as they say, precedents are made to be… dented. If those aren’t long enough odds for you, how about Aramis Ramirez? He’s the Cubs active leader, and he only needs 90 plunks to catch Frank Chance. Or, how about Orioles’ active leader Adam Jones. He needs 121 more plunks just to tie Brady Anderson for the franchise HBP record in Baltimore. But, the longest of longshots among active franchise leaders would be Carlos Lee for the Astros. He’s been hit 13 times. And that leads all active Astros. He’d need to get hit 273 times to break Craig Biggio‘s record. So if he has the same number of plate appearance as last year he’ll just have to get hit once every 2.4 plate appearances this year to do that. Just for the sake of comparison, if you split ground ball outs and fly ball outs into there own category, the most any batter did any one thing last year was Derek Jeter‘s 246 ground outs. So… that’s a long way of saying Carlos Lee probably won’t be breaking Craig Biggio‘s record anytime soon. And that’s an even longer way of saying that it’s very disappointing to see Biggio’s old team led by a guy with 13 Astros plunks.