pitchers who can plunk and still win

September 23rd, 2008 by pbr

If you saw the Red Sox game last night, or the box score, or the note here about Josh Beckett hitting three batters you may have wondered how often a pitcher can his 3 batters in a game and still expect his team to win… well, this year it’s been done just once, by Shaun Marcum. He hit 3 Royals batters on May 26th, but the Blue Jays still won 7-2. Only 5 other pitchers, including Beckett, have hit 3 batters in a game this season, but their teams all lost.

Overall, teams that hit at least one batter are 576-752 (.434) when they hit at least one batter, 95-151 (.386) when they hit two or more, and 9-26 (.257) when the team hits a total of 3 batters or more. But, there are some pitchers who seem to be able to hit batters fairly consistently without costing their team wins. For example, the Cubs are 6-0 when Carlos Zambrano hits a batter. The Indians are 5-0 when Cliff Lee hits a batter, and the Blue Jays are 16-2 when either AJ Burnett or Roy Halladay hits at least one batter.

Here are some lists of the pitchers who have been the best this season at hitting batters without causing their team to lose:

Best win-loss record when a pitcher hits at least one batter, no minimum plunks:

Pitcher W-L* Total HBPs
Carlos Zambrano – CHC 6-0 6
Cliff Lee – CLE 5-0 5
Kyle McClellan – STL 4-0 4
Sidney Ponson – NYY 4-0 5
Todd Jones – DET 4-0 4
Chien-Ming Wang – NYY 3-0 3
Jeremy Bonderman – DET 3-0 3
Joe Blanton – PHI 3-0 3

*these are the win-loss records for the team in those games when the pitcher hit someone, not the pitchers’ personal win-loss record.

Same thing, but with a minimum of 5 HBPs for the pitchers:

Pitcher W-L* Total HBPs
Carlos Zambrano – CHC 6-0 6
Cliff Lee – CLE 5-0 5
Sidney Ponson – NYY 4-0 5
A.J. Burnett – TOR 8-1 9
Roy Halladay – TOR 8-1 12
Daisuke Matsuzaka – BOS 6-1 7
Ryan Dempster – CHC 6-1 7
Dan Haren – ARI 5-1 6
Jonathan Sanchez – SF 5-1 6
Zach Miner – DET 5-1 6

And, here it is in the 10+ plunk category:

Pitcher W-L* Total HBPs
Roy Halladay – TOR 8-1 12
Jamie Moyer – PHI 7-2 11
James Shields – TB 7-3 12
Brandon Webb – ARI 6-3 10
Edinson Volquez – CIN 7-4 13
Roy Oswalt – HOU 5-3 10
Ubaldo Jimenez – COL 5-3 10
Kyle Kendrick – PHI 7-5 14
Daniel Cabrera – BAL 7-7 18
Mike Pelfrey – NYM 6-6 13

So Roy Halladay hasn’t just hit 12 batters this season, he’s done it without losing more than one game. He’s also a very impressive 3-0 when he hits 2 batters in a game. Also, there are only 8 pitchers this season who have hit 10 batters or more while their teams stayed over .500 in those games when they were hitting all those batters. I’m sure there are times, though, when hitting a particular batter just becomes more important than winning. And also, there are certain batters who some pitchers just can’t miss.

Now here’s the guys who just can’t win when they hit a batter:

Pitcher W-L* Total HBPs
Aaron Heilman – NYM 0-8 9
Pedro Martinez – NYM 0-6 6
Luke Hochevar – KC 0-5 5
Jensen Lewis – CLE 0-5 5
Alberto Castillo – BAL 0-5 7
Dennis Sarfate – BAL 0-5 7

I guess that’s not the sort of stat that’s going to help convince the Mets to bring Pedro back next season so he can hit just one Colorado Rocky, and become the first pitcher to hit a batter from all 30 teams.

2 Responses to “pitchers who can plunk and still win”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Plunkmaster – Has anyone ever hit for the cycle AND been plunked in a game?

  2. pbr says:

    It hasn’t happened in any of the games that Retrosheet has a box score for – but it’s possible someone had a cycle plus a plunk sometime before 1957.

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