We’re up to 1,050 HBPs in the major leagues this year, and 971 of those have taken place in a situation where the batter had never before been plunked by that pitcher. 69 Were thrown by a pitcher who had plunked that batter once before, and 8 occurred in a match-up where the pitcher had hit that batter in two previous meetings. There has been just one plunk so far this year that marked the 4th time a pitcher his hit that particular batter, and one where the batter got plunked for the 5th time by the same pitcher.
The end of the 2007 season saw the retirement of one half of the batter-vs-pitcher match-up which was the active leader in HBPs – and it wasn’t Craig Biggio. David Wells hit Jason Giambi 8 times in his career; just ahead of the 7 times Pedro Astacio hit Craig Biggio. Now that neither of those combinations is available to produce another plunk, their is a tie for the top active lead. Jason Kendall has been hit by 6 pitches thrown by Jamey Wright – but they won’t be seeing each other this season unless one of them is traded. Shannon Stewart has been hit 6 times by Tim Wakefield, but Stewart is on the Blue Jays disabled list at the moment. If he returns to face Wakefield again this season, he probably won’t be too worried about taking a 7th knuckle-plunk. Mark Buehrle has hit Travis Hafner 6 times, but Hafner is also on the disabled list, so it’s unknown whether or not he’ll be back to get hit again when the Indians face the White Sox in September. And, AJ Pierzynski has been hit 6 times by Jeff Weaver, but Weaver has spent this season in the minor leagues… which will make it somewhat more difficult to strike again in that match-up.
The most plunk-intensive match-up that’s been contributed to this season is Jason Giambi vs Scott Schoeneweis. Schoeneweiss hit Giambi for the 5th time ever, on May 18th this year, taking over the active lead in hitting Jason Giambi with pitches.
The active lead for the most teams involved in plunks by a single batter-vs-pitcher match-up belongs to Gary Sheffield and Julian Tavarez. Tavarez has only plunked Sheffield 4 times, but he’s done it while pitching for 4 different teams, and Sheffield has been plunked by Tavarez while playing for 3 different teams. So their one-on-one battle has managed to involve 7 different clubs. By comparison, David Wells plunked Jason Giambi while pitching for 4 different teams, but Giambi has only played for 2 different – and since Giambi got hit by Wells while playing both for and against the Yankees, they only managed to involve 5 teams in their 8 plunkings.