Posts Tagged ‘David Eckstein’

Hey. Somebody sign David Eckstein.

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

I’m talking to you, MLB GMs. Just sitting around not signing David Eckstein when he’s a free agent, and probably not even asking for that much money. Have you looked at your teams? You think you have anyone on your roster who has gotten hit by 140 pitches in a ten year span? Don’t bother looking it up – if you’re not the Kansas City Royals, you don’t have one. But you could, and his name is David Eckstein*. Seriously. What are you thinking? You think he’s too old? He turned 36 last month. Don Baylor got hit by another 99 pitches after he turned 36, and Craig Biggio got hit by 88 more. If they can do it, it’s a good bet Eckstein can too. And it’s a bet that won’t even cost you much – he worked for $1mil last year, and $850k the year before that. You think you can find another former World Series MVP at that rate? Good luck. And you know you won’t find one with 143 career HBPs and a career plunk rate better than one every 40 plate appearances. And he’ll probably get hit by even more pitches once he gets out of San Diego – a team with a historic lack of commitment to the HBP. How many guys do you think there are in the league with 10 years experience and a world series ring in 20% of his major league seasons? I’ll tell you – among batters there are 5. Two are Yankees, and your not getting them (well, unless you’re the Yankees). The others are Aaron Rowand, David Eckstein and Juan Uribe. (Actually Mike Lowell would qualify too, but he retired). Something those guys have in common? Jeter – 152 career HBPs. Posada has 72, Rowand has 117, Eckstein has 143, and Uribe… well Uribe only has 30… I don’t know how to explain that except to treat the 2010 World Series as a historic oddity. But anyway, those guys all win a lot of World Series rings, and they get hit by a lot of pitches. SO there must be a connection. As long as you don’t go looking for it, because then you’ll get distracted by Jason Kendall. The point is, David Eckstein is looking for a Major League job, and you will almost certainly win more games if you sign him than if you don’t.
A lot of you don’t exactly have impressive all-star infields out there – don’t make me name names.
All right, you made me. Houston? Oh sure – you’re all set with Clint Barmes and Bill Hall in the middle of your infield. A couple of 32 year olds with 46 career plunks between them both. Sounds like a plan. You wouldn’t rather have David Eckstein take up Craig Biggo’s old position? Maybe somebody who could be the first 2nd basemen since Biggio to get hit by more than 9 plunks. 9 plunks is the TOTAL of all your 2nd baseman’s HBPs since Biggio left, not a season high. That’s just sad. Yeah fine – just go with Bill Hall – you’re right, he’s only 31 so clearly my analysis is wrong. You’ll definitely get your $7million worth out of him for the next two years, even though you could have had Eckstein for a third of that. I’m sure it’s part of a brilliant long term plan.
How about you, Brian Cashman? I know you’ve already got a short stop with a lot of rings and a lot of HBPs, but you’re the Yankees, wouldn’t you rather have 2 of them? I know you’re turned off by the idea that a player might sign for a mere million dollars, and if it makes you feel better, fine – you can pay him $15 million a year. I don’t think he’ll mind. Nope, nevermind – I like David Eckstein, and I don’t want to see him in a Yankee uniform.
Cardinals? You’re pretty sure Skip Shumaker is going to bounce back from last years numbers? Have you looked at his career HBP numbers? Or should I say Number, since it’s 6? Not to mention that you haven’t won a World Series since Eckstein left – that goes for you too Angels.
What about the Rays? If you’re only signing former Red Sox this year, keep in mind that Eckstein was in the Red Sox farm system for a while – does that make you more interested? You’re that excited about the promising young Sean Rodriguez and his .296 OBP from last year? Let me give you a little tip that’s related to someone you’re familiar with. Remember your old shortstop Jason Bartlett? When he was coming up with Minnesota, they signed Juan Castro to start ahead of him in 2005 when everyone thought it was time for Bartlett to be given the full time job. The only way that made sense was to motivate Bartlett – make him say “wow – they think THAT guy is better than me?”. And it worked, Bartlett made a big improvement next year. Obviously Eckstein is a 143 times better player than Juan Castro (143 plunks to 1), but he’s 5’7 and tends to get underestimated, so you could still have the winning of David Eckstein with the motivation for your young 2nd baseman of feeling like the team brought in this little guy to start ahead of him. Trust me, the Castro Gambit will work.
Here’s another idea – the Milwaukee Brewers. I know you’re not excited about Yuniesky Betancourt – just because you took him to make the Zach Grienke trade happen doesn’t mean you actually have to let him play. I’m pretty sure Grienke won’t care. Sign Eckstein for small money, let him play short stop – and this is the best part – put out an Eckstein, Weeks, Fielder infield that could go for the record of most plunks by an infield. Last year the Brewers were the first team in 99 years to have two players with over 20 HBPs (though the White Sox also did that last year), but with Eckstein at short they could become the first team EVER with three 20 plunk players. I know Eckstein hasn’t had a 20 hbp year since 2002, but he has the skills to get that done if he’s given the chance. You’re telling me that wouldn’t pack in the fans?

Okay, I get it – David Eckstein isn’t exactly a proven box office draw, but that’s just because most fans haven’t gotten the message that the HBP is the most important stat in the game. You know what draws as many fans as a big name player? Winning. Only Jason Kendall has been hit by more pitches than Eckstein since 2001, and he only got 7 more (150 to 143). When Eckstein has been hit by pitches, his team has won the game 80 times. Only Jason Giambi has more wins in games with a plunk since 2001. That doesn’t sound like it could help your team? Looking around the league at who’s expected to start in major league infields, there are some less than impressive players keeping jobs while David Eckstein is still out there looking for work. And for that matter, he’d make a great backup. He can still probably put up a dozen plunks in a platoon or utility role, and also be a mentor to young infielders, teaching them the craft of how to get hit by more pitches. Grittiness isn’t always an inherent trait in players – it can be taught.

In summary, somebody sign David Eckstein. Do it. Do it now. Maybe somebody in the AL West, so he can get hit by the Angels and join the “plunked by every major league team” club, along with Jason Kendall and Rondell White? That’d be nice. You’re all going to feel stupid if he ends up going to play in Japan and puts up fantastic numbers over there.

*-or Carlos Delgado, if you want to get technical, but he seems more retired than Eckstein. Only 12 players in MLB history have gotten hit by 140 pitches in the span of 10 seasons. Delgado, Eckstein, Jason Kendall, Fernando Vina, Craig Biggio, Don Baylor, Ron Hunt, Minnie Minoso, Dan McGann, Tommy Tucker, Curt Welch and Hughie Jennings.

PS, if this is the year that Eckstein is supposed to be sent back in time to 1898 to become Kid Elberfeld, and this is all part of your plan to perfect time travel for player movement purposes, than I’m okay with that, I guess. If that’s what has to happen for you to have the technology to send Albert Pujols back to 2001 from the 23rd century when he was (will be?) born, than I guess that’s okay… if that’s how you got Albert Pujols here from the 23rd century. But, if you used this technology to bring Alex Rodriguez back from the future, than this is a terrible crime against nature and you need to stop your cross-time player management now. If Eckstein goes back to become Elberfeld this year, and I can ever prove that they’re the same person, he would be the career HBP record holder with 308 (165 as Elberfeld and 143 as Eckstein).

140th for Eckstein

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

HBPs of note: June 2, 2010

It took 11 innings to find that one pitch, but David Eckstein was hit by a pitch last night for the 140th time in his career.  That ties him with Bill Dahlen at 25th place on the all time plunks list.  Eckstein’s plunk also loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th inning, just before Adrian Gonzalez won the game with a grand slam.  That was the 4th time Eckstein has been hit in an extra inning, and the 10th time he’s been hit by a pitcher who had never previously thrown a hit batsmen.  Raul Valdez threw that one, and obviously the honor of throwing Eckstein’s 140th plunk distracted him so much that he gave up the grand slam.  Oh, and just for fun, that was the 300th plunk ever recorded at PETCO park.

Chris Carpenter threw 2 plunks against the Reds, racking up his 69th and 70th career hit batsmen.  70 career plunks leaves Carpenter 1 behind Stan Williams among the most plunkful pitchers ever born in New Hampshire.  Reds pitcher Stan Lecure hit 2 Cardinals in that game as well, making it the only 4 plunk game in the National League this year (there have been 2 in the AL).  One of Lecure’s plunks landed on Albert Pujols, and that was his 70th.  So Carpenter and Pujols both had plunk number 70 in the same game – Carpenter throwing, and Pujols batting.  Pujols is 17 plunks behind Steve Evans for the Cardinals franchise record, and is currently in 3rd place.  Carpenter has now thrown 15 plunks at the new Busch Stadium, and that is the park record.

Eckstein ties Knoblauch with 139th plunk

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

HBPs of note: May 19th 2010

David Eckstein got hit by another pitch last night, bringing his career total to 139. That moves him into a tie for 26th place on the all time list with Chuck Knoblauch, but Eckstein has reached that total in 2 fewer seasons than Knoblauch. Dodgers rookie Carlos Monasterios delivered number 139, and he’s the first pitcher who’s more than 11 years younger than Eckstein to plunk him. Prior to this month, Eckstein hadn’t been hit by anyone more than 9 years younger than him, but his last 3 plunks have come from pitchers at least 9 years his junior.

Carl Crawford and Russell Martin both got their 30th career plunks yesterday, John Buck had an RBI plunk, and Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd both got hit in the 9th inning for opposing teams in the same game. That’s the first time batters for both teams were hit in the same game this season, but that happens one or two times a year.

Crawford is just the 3rd player to reach 30 plunks for the Rays franchise, and is 5 plunks behind Jonny Gomes for the franchise record of 35. Carlos Pena has 32 though, so he could get there first.

Eckstein moves into 27th

Monday, May 17th, 2010

HBPs of note: May 16, 2010

Only three batters were hit by a pitch yesterday, but one of them was David Eckstein, and he’s been hit by 138 pitches now. That puts him in a tie for 27th place on the all time list with Larry Walker. Eckstein is only 8 plunks behind Jason Kendall for the highest plunk total of the David Eckstein era (2001 to present). Chad Billingsley became the 112th pitcher to plunk Eckstein, but he’s the only one named Chad ever to do so.

Yesteday’s other plunks were Colby Lewis plunking Lyle Overbay, and Matt Garza plunking Casey Kotchman. Garza’s plunk was the the 25th hit batter of his career.

Eckstein for 137

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

HBPs of note: May 3, 2010

Did you know that David Eckstein got hit by a pitch yesterday? Did you know that it was the 137th of his career, and that he’s tied for 28th place on the all time list, with Frank Chance? Well, it’s true. Ubaldo Jimenez threw that one, and became the 111th person hit David Eckstein with a pitch. Since 2001, Eckstein has the highest rate of plunks per plate appearance in the majors, among batters with at least 5000 plate appearances in that span. Yesterday’s plunk was the 10th for Eckstein at PETCO Park, making him just the third player to get hit 10 times at PETCO.

In Houston, Cesar Valdez made his major league debut and almost made it all the way through Houston’s batting order without hitting anyone, but then he plunked opposing pitcher Felipe Paulino. Felipe Paulino took that as an invitation to plunk Justin Upton in the following inning, for some reason. Paulino had never been plunked before, and Justin Upton’s plunk was the fastest moving plunk of 2010 at 97.4 mph. That’s probably one you don’t want to get hit by.

The only other plunk in yesterday’s MLB games landed on Red Sox prime target Kevin Youkilis. That’s number 61 for Youkilis, leaving him 10 away from Mo Vaughn‘s Red Sox career record. The Red Sox are 4-2 when they get hit by at least one pitch this season.

Eckstein breaks Floridian HBP record

Friday, April 30th, 2010

HBPs of note: April 29, 2010

Only 5 batters were plunked on April 29th this year, but one of them was David Eckstein, who had been hit 135 times before, and once by Milwaukee starter Doug Davis.  135 plunks was the most ever by a player born in Florida, with Gary Sheffield reaching that mark last year, and Eckstein tying his total on April 17th.  But, Doug Davis plunked Eckstein the first inning yesterday, giving the smallish Floridian his 136th career plunk – the most ever by a player from Flordia.  Meanwhile, the 2nd most plunked active player in Florida, Rickie Weeks, watched from the 2nd base defensive position, which is also where Eckstein plays.  Overall, Eckstein is 29th in career HBPs in major league history, and only Jason Kendall his been hit more since Eckstein joined the league in 2001.

For Davis, it was the 40th hit batter he’s thrown in his major league career.

Matt Holiday got HBP number 59 of his career, but more importantly it was the 4700th HBP in Cardinals franchise history. Only the Giants and Pirates have been hit more.

Victor Marte threw his first career HBP, becoming the 238th pitcher to throw a plunk for the Royals.