batting with plunked runners (2008 leaders)

January 24th, 2009 by pbr

Craig Biggio once said, on the subject of HBPs, “they don’t hurt as bad if you score”. Lucky for him he had Jeff Bagwell around to help him out with that, among others. But neither of them are still playing the game so it’s left to others to hit the ball after the ball has hit one of their teammates. In 2008, major league batters averaged .273 hits per at bat with a runner on first base, but if that batter got their by getting hit by a pitch, they batted .282. They only batted .274 when the guy on first got their on a single, and just .246 when they got there on an intentional walk. When there was a runner on any base who initially reached on an HBP, batters hit for a .278 average and slugged .465 in the 2008 season.

If you’re the kind of batter who gets hit by a lot of pitches, and you’d like to turn those plunks into runs, you might want to get yourself into a batting order with Vernon Wells behind you. Wells had 11 plate appearances in 2008 where there was at least one batter on base who had been hit by a pitch. The plunked runner was driven in for a run on 6 of those occasions. Wells hit 3 singles and 2 sacrifice flies to drive in plunked runners, and knocked in one more on a force out. Wells had the best success rate in the league for knocking in plunked base runners, at 54.5%.

Ryan Garko only knocked in 40% of the plunked runners on base when he stepped to the plate, but he had 20 such opportunities, playing for the frequently-plunked Cleveland Indians. The allowed him to drive in 8 runners who reached base on an HBP. Pat Burrell drove in the bruised base runner 7 times in 18 opportunities, and his teammate Ryan Howard drove in a plunked runner 6 times. But, Howard had a league high 35 plate appearance with at least one runner on base who had been hit by a pitch, so he was only successful in making those plunks hurt less, like Biggio said, 17.1% of the time.

In a lot of those plate appearance for Howard, it was Chase Utley who was on base after being plunked, but Utley wasn’t very helpful to other batters who got plunked in front of him. Utley had 20 plate appearances with a plunked runner on base, and didn’t drive in any of them. He batted .278 and was plunked once in those situations, but never put a ball in play that allowed his runner to score. Vlad Guerrero was similarly unhelpful, failing in all 14 opportunities to drive in the plunked runner, and batting .181 in the process.

As a team, the the Texas Rangers had the best success at driving in plunked base runners, doing so in 19% of the plate appearances they had in those situations. The Indians drove in 31 such base runners, but had a league high 187 plate appearances with a runner on base, which makes sense since they broke the post-1900 record for team HBPs in 2008. On the other end were the Cincinatti Reds, who had 77 plate appearances with a plunked runner on base, and only drove him in 6 times – just 7.8% of the time. That’s not so good.

The Florida Marlins led the league in slugging percentage with plunked runners on base at .717. Overall, they slugged .411 with runners on base, so having runner who got hit by pitches really helped them out. They led the league with 11 home runs with runners who had been plunked. On the other end, the Braves slugged .410 with runners on base in 2008, but when you narrow it down to specific instances where at least one of those base runners was plunked, they only slugged .308 with no home runs.

Here are the top 10 in 2008 batting average with runners on base who had been plunked (minimum 10 plate appearances):
Ben Francisco – .700 (12 PA, 10 AB)
Ty Wigginton – .600 (11 PA, 10 AB)
Prince Fielder – .556 (13 PA, 9 AB)
Mike Jacobs – .529 (19 PA, 17 AB)
Jason Michaels – .500 (12 PA, 10 AB)
Ryan Garko – .500 (20 PA, 18 AB)
Franklin Gutierrez – .467 (16 PA, 15 AB)
Austin Kearns – .462 (13 PA, 13 AB)
Stephen Drew – .455 (12 PA, 11 AB)
Marco Scutaro – .455 (12 PA, 11 AB)

And the bottom 10 (with ties):
Bobby Crosby – .000 (10 PA, 9 AB)
Andy Marte – .000 (10 PA, 8 AB)
Melky Cabrera – .091 (11 PA, 11 AB)
Hunter Pence – .100 (10 PA, 10 AB)
Luis Rivas – .111 (10 PA, 9 AB)
Derrek Lee – .111 (11 PA, 9 AB)
Mike Lowell – .111 (11 PA, 9 AB)
Chris Young – .111 (12 PA, 9 AB)
Miguel Cabrera – .125 (10 PA, 8 AB)
Jacoby Ellsbury – .143 (17 PA, 14 AB)
Rich Aurilia – .143 (14 PA, 14 AB)
Khalil Greene – .143 (12 PA, 7 AB)
Geovany Soto – .143 (10 PA, 7 AB)
Jason Kendall – .143 (10 PA, 7 AB)

Here’s the top 10 in slugging pct, with at least one runner on base who had been plunked:
Ben Francisco – .700 (12 PA, 10 AB)
Mike Jacobs – .529 (19 PA, 17 AB)
Mike Cameron – .375 (10 PA, 8 AB)
Jeremy Hermida – .429 (10 PA, 7 AB)
Prince Fielder – .556 (13 PA, 9 AB)
Ty Wigginton – .600 (11 PA, 10 AB)
Mark Teahen – .300 (10 PA, 10 AB)
Jason Giambi – .444 (14 PA, 9 AB)
Manny Ramirez – .286 (10 PA, 7 AB)
Jack Cust – .364 (11 PA, 11 AB)

And the bottom 10:
Bobby Crosby – .000 (10 PA, 9 AB)
Andy Marte – .000 (10 PA, 8 AB)
Melky Cabrera – .091 (11 PA, 11 AB)
Hunter Pence – .100 (10 PA, 10 AB)
Luis Rivas – .111 (10 PA, 9 AB)
Derrek Lee – .111 (11 PA, 9 AB)
Mike Lowell – .111 (11 PA, 9 AB)
Rich Aurilia – .143 (14 PA, 14 AB)
Khalil Greene – .143 (12 PA, 7 AB)
Geovany Soto – .
143 (10 PA, 7 AB)
Jason Kendall – .143 (10 PA, 7 AB)

And here’s the full list of 2008 teams, sorted by batting average in situations with at least on plunked runner on base:

Team AVG SLG AB H PA HR HBP
Rangers .376 .624 93 35 105 6 0
Twins .367 .531 49 18 56 1 0
Marlins .340 .717 106 36 126 11 0
Blue Jays .333 .429 105 35 124 1 1
Astros .326 .535 86 28 94 5 2
Pirates .323 .394 99 32 118 0 1
Giants .323 .403 62 20 68 1 0
Orioles .319 .551 69 22 80 3 0
Indians .307 .497 153 47 187 6 7
Dodgers .302 .460 63 19 77 3 2
Brewers .297 .574 101 30 126 6 2
Cardinals .296 .519 54 16 63 3 0
A’s .295 .508 61 18 71 2 2
Diamondbacks .282 .465 71 20 87 3 2
Cubs .278 .486 72 20 85 3 2
Braves .277 .308 65 18 75 0 0
Royals .276 .500 76 21 81 4 1
Rockies .274 .488 84 23 100 4 1
Mets .270 .365 63 17 68 1 0
White Sox .267 .395 86 23 103 2 1
Phillies .267 .491 116 31 130 7 1
Padres .263 .342 76 20 92 0 2
Red Sox .259 .444 108 28 131 5 1
Angels .256 .354 82 21 100 2 2
Mariners .254 .339 59 15 64 1 0
Rays .253 .421 95 24 122 4 3
Nationals .250 .356 104 26 124 3 3
Yankees .242 .425 120 29 133 4 1
Tigers .241 .500 58 14 70 3 2
Reds .215 .400 65 14 77 3 0

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