Yesterday, I mentioned that Chase Utley has been off to an uncharacteristic plunkless start to the season. It’s no coincidence then that without Utley being hit by pitches, the rest of the Phillies aren’t either – they have a team total of 2 HBPs in their first 13 games. If they continue at this rate for 162 games, they’ll finish the year with only 25 HBPs – which is just 1 plunk more than Chase Utley had last year by himself. As a team, the Phillies got hit 71 times last year, tying for the National League lead. But as of last night, they’ve gone 10 consecutive games without a plunk, and that’s their longest streak since September of 2005.
Leadership can’t be underestimated when it comes to getting hit by pitches, and if Utley can get his HBP game going, others on the team will follow. Over the last 10 seasons, if you take away the most plunked player on each team, the remaining players get hit more often depending on how often that top player gets plunked. From 2000 to 2009, the remaining players on teams led by a batter who gets hit 15 or more times in a season got hit about once every 109.4 plate appearance, while non-team-leading players on teams where the high plunk man was under 15 plunks got hit only 131 times. So, having a player on the team get hit 15 times or more increases the plunk rate of the rest of the team by 23.2%. Players on teams led by a player with 20 or more plunks in a year get hit 34.1% more often than players on a team on which no one gets hit more than ten times in a season. During the 2000 to 2009 decade, 224 teams didn’t have a player reach the 15 plunk mark, and of those teams only 14.7% of them had a plunk rate at or above the league average, when you exclude the team leader. Of the 87 teams who didn’t have a single player reach 10 plunks, only 6% of them got plunked at a league average rate, without their top plunkee.
Tags: Chase Utley