Thursday, September 24, 2009

Major League pitchers set new record - and Chase Utley hit again

HBPs of note - September 23, 2009

Prior to yesterday, only 488 pitchers had hit a batter in the major leagues this year, and that wasn't as many pitchers as there were in 2007 who hit at last on batter. 489 different pitchers hit a batter that year, but that was the record. Never before had 490 different pitchers hit at least on batter in a single major league season. Until yesterday. Ian Kennedy hit Howie Kendrick to become the 489 pitcher to throw a plunk in 2009, and Kevin Mulvey of the Diamondbacks hit Eli Whiteside to break the record and be the 490th pitcher with a plunk this year. Only 1,478 total plunks have been thrown this year, which is 372 plunks short of the single season record and could be the lowest total since 1997, but every year we seem to need more arms to throw all those plunks. Overall there have been 660 different players who pitched this season, and only170 of them have pitched without hitting anyone. The record for most pitchers used in a season is 666.

The Phillies were visiting Florida for a game last night, and Chase Utley was among 4 batters hit by a pitch. He was also one of two batters to be plunked by a Dutchman, making that his first HBP by a pitcher from the Netherlands. Utley has now been plunkd by pitchers from 10 different countries among his 106 career plunks and his league leading 23 plunks this season.

Nick Johnson got his 11th HBP of the season, and Carlos Quentin got his 13th of the year yesterday. Dustin Pedroia got his 20th career HBP, and CJ Wilson threw the 20th of his career.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carlos Quentin reaches double digits

HBPs of note: August 17, 2009

Carlos Quentin got his 10th plunk of the season yesterday, making this his third consecutive double digit season in HBPs. He's up to 49 HBPs for his career.

Four batters were plunked in the Diamondbacks-Braves game at Turner Field yesterday. That ties the park record for most plunks in a game at Turner Field, and was the 6th four-plunk game in park history.

Minnesota's Bob Keppel hit Ian Kinsler with a pitch, which was the 700th plunk thrown by a pitcher born in 1982.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Busy day in HBPs

HBPs of Note: July 21, 2009

It was a busy day for HBPs in the major leagues yesterday with 14 batters getting plunked. Manny Ramirez was the only one who did it wrong, taking one off the hand and being forced out of the game. He didn't break anything, but he's listed as day to day. That was the 98th of Manny's career, and was contributed by Homer Bailey.

Jose Guillen got hit by a pitch for the 131st time in his career, but remains in 36th place on the all-time list. He's 1 plunk behind Damion Easley, David Eckstein and Steve Brodie. Number 131 for Guillen was thrown by Ervin Santana, and ws the 40th of Santana's career. Also in that Royals-Angels game, David DeJesus got hit for the 37th time at Kauffman Stadium, which leaves him just 7 plunks away from the park record. He's been hit 63 times overall.

Jason LaRue didn't like having his career total tied by Aaron Rowand on Monday, so he got hit by his 104th pitch moving up with Miguel Tejada and Mark Grudzielanek into a tie for 60th place.

Reed Johnson got his 97th HBP, with Chase Utley looking on in Philadelphia. The two are tied again on the all time list, and perhaps locked in a race with Manny Ramirez to see who becomes the next batter to cross the 100 HBPs milestone. Johnson and Utley both started playing in the Majors in 2003, and while Utley has been accelerating his HBP pace for the past few years, Johnson has been slowing down as he's become more of a role-player with the Cubs. Johnson is the only player with an active streak of 6 consecutive years with 10 or more plunks, but he's only up to 5 this season. Aaron Rowand his been plunked in the double figures in 5 consecutive years.

Carlos Quentin got his 9th plunk of the season yesterday, after going unplunked since May 9th. He missed 47 games due to injury, but he's jumped right back in to the HBP race and will likely make a push toward the top of the list by the end of the year, if he can keep healthy.

And, Evan Longoria had an HBP which wasn't significant in HBP terms, but it did put him on base in the top of the 9th inning so he could score the go-ahead run, which turned out to be the game winner when the White Sox didn't come back in the bottom of the inning.

Aramis Ramirez
got his 70th career HBP, Oliver Perez threw his 50th, and Randy Wolf threw career plunk number 70.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Carlos Quentin gets 8th plunk

Among the 10 batters hit by pitches yesterday was Carlos Quentin. He's now been hit 8 times this season, tying him with Kelly Shoppach for the major league lead.

Ichiro Suzuki got hit for the 41st time in his US career, and that's more times than any other Japanese born players. Kenji Johjima is 2nd in that category with 32 hbps.

Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster threw his 2nd plunk of the 2009 season yesterday, hitting Ryan Braun of the Brewers, who happens to be the same batter Dempster threw his first plunk of the season at. Ryan Dempster needs to hit 21 more batters to take the Canadian record for hitting batters, which is currently held by Fergie Jenkins at 84. But, they don't all have to be named Ryan.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brett Cecil plunks 3 batters in debut

HBPs of Note: May 5, 2009

Toronto Blue Jays rookie Brett Cecil made his major league debut yesterday, starting against the Blue Jays. He hit 3 batters in his debut, joining Luis de los Santos as the only pitchers in the past 25 years to throw 3 plunks in their first major league game. But, Cecil only allowed one earned run, so maybe he'll last a little longer than de los Santos, who never hit another batter and only lasted 3 games in the big leagues. His three plunk debut was on July 20, 2002.

Two of Cecil's plunks landed on Kelly Shoppach, who continues to get hit at an amazing pace for a guy who isn't playing everyday. He's been hit 7 times now in only 56 plate appearances. He's tied for the league lead with Carlos Quentin, who's taken 113 plate appearances to get hit the same number of times. Shoppach's 2nd plunk of the day was the 20th of his career. Quentin got his 7th plunk of the season yesterday as well, keeping a share of the major league lead.

Joba Chamberlain threw at Jason Bay's back last night, in Bay's first trip to the plate after homering off Joba in the first inning, but that plunk gave Bay 40 for his career, and 4 since joining the Red Sox. That means he's been hit by more pitches than any other Canadian born player in Red Sox history, which sadly means that I no longer have a good excuse to bring up the name Bunk Congalton. Congalton and Frank O'Rourke were both born in Canada and plunked three times for the Red Sox. Bay now has sole possession of the Canadian Red Sox record. I'll start working on bad excuses to bring up Bunk Congalton.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Top 50 batters right now

... at getting hit by pitches.

Below is the list of the top 50 active batters, by their rate of HBPs per plate appearance. The last column is the number of plate appearances they'd need, at their current rate, to reach 288 HBPs, which would be the all time record, breaking Hughie Jennings 287 mark. All data is as of the morning of May 4, 2009, and a 5 HBP minimum is required to make this list.


PlayerHBPPAHBP per
PA
PA per
HBP
PA needed
for record
1Carlos Quentin(CWS)451,1260.040025.07,206
2J.R. Towles(HOU)82200.036427.57,920
3Jason LaRue(STL)1032,9410.035028.68,223
4Reed Johnson(CHC)952,7220.034928.78,252
5Ryan Garko(CLE)431,3850.031032.29,276
6Rickie Weeks(MIL)622,0150.030832.59,360
7Jason Kendall(MIL)2357,7680.030333.19,520
8Corky Miller(CWS)124070.029533.99,768
9Ryan Doumit(PIT)341,2270.027736.110,393
10Chase Utley(PHI)873,2210.027037.010,663
11Lastings Milledge(WSH)271,0040.026937.210,709
12Ian Stewart(COL)114130.026637.510,813
13Josh Willingham(WSH)451,6930.026637.610,835
14David Eckstein(SD)1264,7510.026537.710,859
15Ramon Santiago(DET)311,1700.026537.710,870
16Aaron Rowand(SF)963,6420.026437.910,926
17Chris Iannetta(COL)217990.026338.010,958
18Chris Coste(PHI)187060.025539.211,296
19Alex Cora(NYM)813,1870.025439.311,332
20Nick Green(BOS)218610.024441.011,808
21Kelly Shoppach(CLE)187680.023442.712,288
22Chris Burke(SD)311,3740.022644.312,765
23Mike Redmond(MIN)522,3230.022444.712,866
24Jose Guillen(KC)1245,5760.022245.012,951
25Nick Johnson(WSH)572,6360.021646.213,319
26Edwin Encarnacion(CIN)411,9120.021446.613,431
27Kenji Johjima(SEA)321,4990.021346.813,491
28Matt Treanor(DET)188460.021347.013,536
29David DeJesus(KC)612,8740.021247.113,569
30Jason Giambi(OAK)1607,8640.020349.214,155
31A.J. Pierzynski(CWS)854,2430.020049.914,376
32Nate McLouth(PIT)311,5630.019850.414,521
33Carlos Delgado(NYM)1698,6270.019651.014,702
34Melvin Mora(BAL)1025,2110.019651.114,713
35Emmanuel Burriss(SF)73580.019651.114,729
36Jerry HairstonJr.(CIN)633,2380.019551.414,802
37Chris Duffy(MIL)157730.019451.514,842
38Kevin Youkilis(BOS)462,3750.019451.614,870
39Angel Berroa(NYY)532,7620.019252.115,009
40Ryan Freel(BAL)422,1900.019252.115,017
41Jason Bartlett(TB)341,7950.018952.815,205
42Xavier Nady(NYY)462,4630.018753.515,421
43Prince Fielder(MIL)412,1960.018753.615,426
44Travis Hafner(CLE)573,0730.018553.915,527
45Kevin Kouzmanoff(SD)251,3610.018454.415,679
46Shane Victorino(PHI)331,8070.018354.815,770
47Matt Diaz(ATL)191,0470.018155.115,870
48Alex Gordon(KC)211,1970.017557.016,416
49Mike Napoli(LAA)169270.017357.916,686
50Fernando Tatis(NYM)513,0540.016759.917,246

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quentin plunked twice, takes league lead

HBPs of Note: April 29, 2009

The Mariners played the White Sox last night, and one of the game's highlights had to be Erik Bedard becoming the first pitcher to plunk Carlos Quentin twice in one game. That gave Quentin a total of 6 for the season, and 45 for his career. Quentin also got hit 6 times last April, making him just the third player to get hit 6 times in consecutive Aprils since 1986 (the Jamie Moyer Era). Craig Biggio got 6 plunks in April in 2001 and 2002, and Reed Johnson got plunked 6 times in April of 2005 and 2006.

Speaking of Reed Johnson, he's now been plunked 95 times, after last nights plunking by Doug Davis. That would have moved Johnson into a tie for 13th place with Aaron Rowand on the active HBP list, but Rowand got plunked by Guillermo Mota. That puts Rowand into a 12th place tie with Manny Ramirez among actives, at 96 HBPs. Johnson (95), Rowand (96), Ramirez (96), Miguel Tejada (97), and Chase Utley (85) all have an excellent chance of crossing the 100 HBP milestone this season.

Also yesterday, Cleveland's Kelly Shoppach and Boston's Nick Green both got hit by a pitch in the Red Sox-Indians game. Green has now been hit 5 times in 56 plate appearances, or once per 11.2 plate appearances, while Shoppach has been hit 4 times in 44 plate appearances, or once every 11 times he steps to the plate. When Ron Hunt got hit 50 times in 1971, he only got hit once every 12.76 plate appearances, so Shoppach and Green are on a very impressive pace.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Carlos Quentin takes the league lead

HBPs of Note: April 23, 2009

Carlos Quentin became the first batter to reach 4 plunks this season, making him the league leader. He got hit by the Baltimore Orioles, which means the Orioles lead all teams in plunking Quentin with 6 in his career.

In Houston, Geoff Blum collected his 25th career plunk, and in Philadelphia Dave Bush threw his 60th career hit batsman(after throwing his 59th).

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

HBPs of note - April 8, 2009

It was a full day of getting hit by pitches yesterday with 13 batters getting hit by pitches. Ryan Howard got plunked by Eric O'Flaherty for Howard's 20th career plunk. Milton Bradley got hit for the 20th time in his career yesterday, and Carlos Quentin collected plunk number 40 of his short career. Rickie Weeks became the first player to collect two plunks this season, getting plunked in his 2nd consecutive game. This makes 61 for Weeks' career.

Quentin's 40th HBP makes him the all time leader among players whose last name starts with Q, passing Joe Quinn.
Here's the all time Q list:
Carlos Quentin - 40
Joe Quinn - 39
Jamie Quirk - 18
Mark Quinn - 13
Rey Quinones - 11

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

plunks and winning

Chase Utley has taken 25 plunks for the team this season, but unfortunately the Phillies haven't been able to put them to very good use. Those 25 plunks have come in 21 games, and the Phillies have just 10 wins against 11 loses in games when Chase Utley has been plunked. Of the 24 players with over 10 hbps this year (as of Sept. 9th), only 2 have a worse winning percentage in games with an hbp. The Phillies are, however 2-1 when Utley gets hit at least twice, and 1-0 when he gets hit 3 times in a game, so obviously he needs to get hit more to help his team win.

Aramis Ramirez has been the best at insuring victory for his Cubs by getting hit by pitches. The Cubs are 10-1 in the 11 games in which Ramirez has been plunked. So he's won just as many games when he's been plunked as Utley, but has had 10 less losses while being struck by pitches.
Nate McLouth has seen his efforts at getting hit by pitches wasted the most, with the Pirates winning pct dipping to .272 in the 11 games in which he's been hit by a pitch. Finding a way to make the Pirates winning percentage even worse is an impressive feat in itself.

Here's all the players with over 10 hbps (as of Sept 9th), and the win-loss records in games when they get hit:
PlayerHBPW-LPCT
Aramis Ramirez (CHC)1110-10.909
Prince Fielder (MIL)117-20.778
Kevin Kouzmanoff (SD)129-30.75
Jason Kendall (MIL)129-30.75
Melvin Mora (BAL)118-30.727
Kevin Youkilis (BOS)118-30.727
Reed Johnson (CHC)128-30.727
Jeff Francoeur (ATL)107-30.7
Chris Iannetta (COL)139-40.692
Aaron Rowand (SF)148-40.667
Alex Rodriguez (NYY)148-50.615
Kurt Suzuki (OAK)106-40.6
Edwin Encarnacion (CIN)106-40.6
Scott Rolen (TOR)106-40.6
Carlos Quentin (CHW)2012-80.6
Josh Willingham (FLO)126-40.6
Rickie Weeks (MIL)147-50.583
Jason Giambi (NYY)2011-80.579
Lastings Milledge (WAS)137-60.538
Carlos Pena (TB)115-50.5
Ryan Garko (CLE)147-70.5
Chase Utley (PHI)2510-110.476
David Dellucci (CLE)115-60.455
Nate McLouth (PIT)123-80.273


Mark Grudzielanek (KC), Jose Molin (NYY), Mike Napoli (LAA), Marco Scutaro (TOR) and Gerald Liard (TEX) are all tied with the most HBPs this year without having lost a game in which they got hit by a pitch. Surely getting plunked is that much more painful when you lose, but those 5 guys are all 5-0 in the games in which they've been hit by pitches.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Plunk streak ends

Carlos Quentin played in a baseball game last night, and he didn't get hit by a pitch - for the first time since August 6th. But, the White Sox began a short road trip in Oakland last night, and all 6 plunks of Quentin's streak were in home games, so he could still continue his home-game plunk streak when the White Sox return to US Cellular Field on Monday.

But since Quentin didn't get hit by a pitch, that leaves the longest active streak of getting hit by pitches at 1... by Jose Guillen, Austin Kearns, Jorge Cantu, Josh Willingham, Shin-Soo Choo and Nick Swisher.

In other important news, Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies hit Austin Kearns of the Nationals with a pitch last night, bringing the Rockies all time franchise total for plunks thrown to 998. I'm sure everyone in Colorado is excited about seeing the team pass such a major milestone in the near future.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

more Quentin plunk streak stuff

As you've likely seen by now, the Carlos Quentin plunk streak moved to 6 consecutive games after yesterday's first inning plunk thrown by Kyle Davies. According to MLB Gameday's pitch f/x data, that one was the closest to the plate of any of the plunks during the streak at about 8.4 inches off the inside of the plate. Here's the listing of Quentin's plunks during the streak:

DatePitcherInningStart SpeedEnd SpeedInches insideheight in inches
08/14/2008Kyle Davies193.584.48.447.3
08/11/2008Josh Beckett894.78614.641.1
08/10/2008David Aardsma494.587.38.641.4
08/09/2008Daisuke Matsuzaka493.885.812.048.9
08/08/2008Jon Lester580.375.111.413.2
08/07/2008Zach Miner490.382.310.635.1

As you can see, yesterday's plunk was also the second highest of the streak. Jon Lester was the only pitcher who has plunked Quentin below the altitude of the strike zone during the streak, most likely because he's the only lefty in the group.

So if you're thinking 6 games isn't much of a streak, here are a couple of things to think about:

First, in the span of the last 50 years, the only other player whose been hit 6 times in a span of 6 consecutive games is Ron Hunt in 1971, on his way to a 50 plunk season. He had a pair of 2 plunk games and a pair in which he didn't get hit in that span of games between August 17th and the 23rd that year. Nobody has been hit 7 times in a 7 game span in the last 50 years. Maybe never. So Quentin isn't just having a record streak of getting hit once - he's also getting hit as many times in this span of games as has ever been recorded.

Second, the average full time player in the past few seasons only gets hit in about 5.6 games per season. For the sake of comparison, a full time batter gets a hit in an average of 95 games in a season. So given the relative rarity of HBPs versus base hits, Quentin's 6 game plunk streak could be viewed as the equivalent of a 101 game hitting streak. How do you like that, Joe DiMaggio? (Then again, if you look at it in probability terms and figure the odds of a plunk in a game are 5.6/162 and the odds of at least one hit in a game are 95/162, then it's more like a 38 game hitting streak, if you work it out as though each game is an independent trial - which it obviously isn't).

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Carlos Quentin extends plunk streak to 6 consecutive games

It took him 5 pitches in his first plate appearance of the game to extend the streak the longest consecutive games plunk streak in recorded history to 6. And he did it against a pitcher who hasn't hit anyone this year. Carlos Quentin has now been hit 20 times by 20 different pitches this season.

That also brings him to 39 for his career, which ties the all time record for players whose last name starts with Q. Joe Quinn had 39 plunks from 1884 to 1901 (although he may have had some un-recorded ones in those early years when there weren't bloggers to keep track of things like this).

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plunk streak update - forearm soreness edition

It looks like that last one hurt a little bit. Carlos Quentin has been kept out of the last two White Sox game due to soreness in his forearm, as a result of being hit by a pitch. That would have been the Josh Beckett pitch that made impact with Quentin's forearm at about 86mph (but was moving 94.7 mph out of Beckett's hand). If Quentin gets back in the game this afternoon, he'll probably be facing Kyle Davies. That's not great news for the streak, since Davies hasn't hit anyone this year. But hopefully we'll get an answer one way or another, whether the streak will be broken or extended, instead of another day off. Hopefully Quentin won't suddenly feel like getting out of the way of pitches due to this minor injury, or worries about his chances at the MVP award.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

single season record chase updates

As you may know, last year four different players broke the single season HBP record for their team, and several more have a chance to do it this season. Carlos Quentin of the White Sox has used his 5 game getting-hit streak to move within 4 plunks of Minnie Minoso's White Sox record, while Kevin Kouzmanoff seems to have stalled 1 short of the Padres record, going plunkless since July 8th. Michael Bourn of the Astros finally got started on his pursuit of the Astros record with his first career plunk Monday, but he'll still need to get hit 34 more times by the end of the year. And Jason Giambi, Carlos Pena, Damion Easley and Chase Utley all project to within 3 HBPs of their team records - a short hot streak could put any of them over the top.

Here's a chart with each team's current season leader, with their projected season total and their team's single season HBP record, in order of how likely they are to reach the record:
Team2008 HBP LeaderCurrent totalProjected totalFranchise record
SDPKevin Kouzmanoff121613 by Gene Tenace in 1977
CHWCarlos Quentin192623 by Minnie Minoso in 1956
NYYJason Giambi162224 by Don Baylor in 1985
TBDCarlos Pena91214 by Jonny Gomes in 2005
NYMDamion Easley71013 by Ron Hunt in 1963,
and John Olerud in 1997
PHIChase Utley162225 by Chase Utley in 2007
CLERyan Garko111520 by Ryan Garko in 2007
MILRickie Weeks131825 by Fernando Vina in 1998
TEXMilton Bradley7916 by Alex Rodriguez in 2001
ARIAugie Ojeda and
Conor Jackson
71018 by Andy Fox in 1998
CHCReed Johnson111523 by Bill Dahlen in 1898
FLAHanley Ramirez7917 by Carlos Delgado in 2005
TORScott Rolen101422 by Shea Hillenbrand in 2005
COLChris Iannetta91221 by Eric Young in 1996
OAKKurt Suzuki81120 by Don Baylor in 1976, and
Jason Kendall in 2005
LADJeff Kent71020 by Hughie Jennings in 1900
SEAKenji Johjima6819 by Jose Guillen in 2007
SFGAaron Rowand111526 by Ron Hunt in 1970
BALMelvin Mora91224 by Brady Anderson in 1999
CINEdwin Encarnacion7924 by Jason LaRue in 2004
KCRAlex Gordon6823 by David DeJesus in 2007
DETPlacido Polanco5724 by Bill Freehan in 1968
PITNate McLouth101431 by Jason Kendall in 1997 and 1998
ATLJeff Francoeur81129 by Tommy Tucker in 1891
MINDelmon Young5725 by Kid Elberfeld in 1911
ANATorii Hunter6827 by David Eckstein in 2002
BOSKevin Youkilis91235 by Don Baylor in 1986
STLRick Ankiel,
Cesar Izturis, and
Ryan Ludwick
5731 by Steve Evans in 1910
HOUJ.R. Towles,
Lance Berkman,
and Ty Wigginton
6834 by Craig Biggio in 1997
WSNLastings Milledge101450 by Ron Hunt in 1971

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Quentin plunk streak update

The White Sox, for some strange reason, decided that Carlos Quentin might need a day off after getting hit by pitches in 5 consecutive games. He didn't get in the game at all last night, which means he can continue his streak tonight if he's back in the lineup. Luke Hochevar is throwing for the Royals tonight, against the White Sox, so he'll have the first few shots at extending Quentin's streak. He's hit 5 batters this season, but none of there names started with Q.

Espn.com reports that 5 games is the longest plunk streak in the live ball era (post-1920), which basically means if anybody ever had a longer streak, nobody, including Elias Sports Bureau, bothered writing it down.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quentin extends streak to 5 games

White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin got hit by a pitch in his 5th consecutive game last night, which is a record for at least the length of time we have such records for. We don't know for sure that Hughie Jennings or Tommy Tucker never got hit in 5 different games, but we do know that Craig Biggio never did it, among his 285 career HBPs - not even in the year he got hit 34 times. Jason Kendall's been hit 229 times, but never in 5 consecutive games - not even in the back to back seasons he got hit 31 times. Don Baylor never had a streak of more than 4 games with a plunk, and that one wasn't even in the season he set the American League record with 35 plunks. Ron Hunt got hit 50 times in 1971, but didn't manage to get hit in more than 3 games in a row.

So Carlos Quentin is truly in the midst of something special. In reverse order, he's been plunked by Josh Beckett, David Aardsma, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester and Zach Miner. That's 4 right-handers and one lefty (Lester), four starters and one reliever (Aarsma), and 4 Americans and one pitcher from Japan. Four of those 5 hit him with pitches over 90 miles per hour, according to MLB Gameday, with only Lester using an 80.3 mph change up. The others were moving 94.7 (Beckett), 94.5 (Aardsma), 93.8 (Daisuke) and 90.3 (Miner) mph, when leaving the hands of the pitchers. Miner, Daisuke and Aardsma all hit him in the 4th inning, while Lester waited until the 5th and Beckett waited until the 8th inning to hit Quentin.

So tonight Quentin and the White Sox face Brian Bannister and the Royals. We'll see if Quentin can get hit in a 6th consecutive game. He's also just 4 HBPs away from the White Sox single season record now, and he's only 1 plunk away from the record for the most HBPs by a batter whose last name starts with Q. Joe Quinn has been the most plunked Q since 1901 with 39, but Quentin has 38 in just 252 career games.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Carlos Quentin - 4 game getting hit streak

Yesterday, Carlos Quentin of the White Sox got hit by a pitch thrown by David Aardsma of the Red Sox. That was the first time ever that a pitcher whose name starts with a double A has hit a batter whose name starts with Q, but it also extended Quentin's streak of getting hit by pitches to 4 consecutive games. A handful of players in recent history have been hit by pitches in 4 straight games, including Don Baylor and FP Santangelo, and most recently Shawn Green, but no one in the era we have such records for (the retrosheet era, or 1956 to today) has been hit in 5 straight games. So Carlos Quentin could be the first tonight - maybe the first eve, but definitely the first since prior to 1956.

That's just one of several historic things Quentin could do this season - he's also leading the league in both plunks and homers. If he holds on to both leads he could be the 6th player ever to lead his league in both categories, joining Mike Schmidt (NL 1976), Harmen Killebrew (AL 1964), Joe DiMaggio (AL 1948), Al Rosen (AL 1950), and Cy Williams (NL 1927). Maybe if he did that he'd also win the MVP award, and be the first player since Orlando Cepeda in 1967 to win the MVP and lead the league in getting hit by pitches. And, Quentin could also break the White Sox single season record for HBPs. He's currently on pace to get hit 25 times, and the White Sox record is 23, set by Minnie Minoso in 1953. He could also be the first player ever to hit 45 homers and get hit 25 times in a season. Plus, he's already broken the record for the most times a players whose last initial is Q has been hit by a pitcher whose last name starts with a double A. David Aardsma is still the all time major league leader in alphabetical order, just ahead of Hank Aaron.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The All-Star Hit by Pitch competition, sponsored by State Farm

Of all the events of Major League Baseball's all-star festivities, by far the best and most exciting spectacle is the The All-Star Hit by Pitch competition. Competitors from both leagues will step up to the plate against some of the top pitchers from the opposing league, to find out who can fail to get out of the way of the most pitches. Let's take a look at the field, and see which of this year's all-stars is most likely to win this prestigious competition.

Starting with the AL:

Derek Jeter - Jeter is the only player in the competition this year with over 100 HBPs to his credit, with a career total of 136. He's been hit 7 times this season, and he has an excellent shot at besting his singles season career high of 14. No doubt he'll have consulted with league HBP leader and Yankees teammate Jason Giambi for tips on how best to approach the contest. No doubt the home crowd will be behind Jeter also, because who doesn't love to see Derek Jeter step up to the plate and get hit by a pitch?

Manny Ramirez - Manny got a late bump in the voting for this years Hit by Pitch competition when Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera teamed up to hit him 3 times in a game on July 5th. Unlike other events, the voting for the hit by pitch competition is done by opposing pitchers, who vote by hitting batters with pitches. However, the fans still get their voice because only players who make the all-star team can participate in the HBP competition. Manny joins National League participant Chase Utley as the only players this season to receive 3 votes in a single game. While Manny's numbers are impressive, it's tough to judge his chances in this competition. As usual, it all depends on his frame of mind. Will he be out there trying to compete for the fun of it, or will it be just another tool in his complex contract negotiations with the Red Sox front office? As Boston fans like to say "that's just Manny being hit by a pitch".

Carlos Quentin - Carlos Quentin is the league leader in HBPs among right handed batters (12), and also leads the league in being hit by right handed pitchers (10). This is Quentin's first all-star appearance so he may be a little nervous, but when it comes to getting hit by pitches, he knows what he's doing. He was hit 43 times in the minors in 2004, between single A and double A ball, including twice in one inning. Quentin is surely one player who knows that standing still is sometimes the best way to get where you're going.

Kevin Youkilis - Youk has been hit by 7 pitches this season, but the ball that struck him and caused the most damage was thrown by teammate Mike Lowell. Youkilis had to leave a game on June 22nd when a warmup throw between innings bounced and hit him in the eye. But, Youk is apparently much better at being hit in the batters box than at first base. His chances in this competition depend on how much he can annoy the National League pitchers, who may not be as familiar with him as their AL counterparts. One AL pitcher who wished not to be named had this to say about him: "Can you really blame us for hitting him all the time? He takes so many pitches, and he's got that stupid-sexy-flanders batting stance - you know, like that Simpson's episode where Flanders is in the ski-racing outfit and Homer can't stop looking at his rear?"

And for the National League:

Adrian Gonzalez - Gonzalez has only been hit 5 times this season for the Padres, but that was enough to win him the 4th spot on the National League's roster for the Hit-by-Pitch competition. On paper, he may look like a reluctant competitor, but he's a competitor none the less so I'm sure he'll go out there with every intention of winning. When asked about participation in the Hit-By-Pitch contest Adrian Gonzalez said "The what?".

Nate McLouth - Another first-year all-star, McLouth has been hit 9 times so far this year, and at 5' 11" tall and 180 pounds, he's the smallest of this year's competitors. Only Reed Johnson has more HBPs this season, among players in the "180 pound and under" weight class. McLouth is also 4th on the Pittsburgh Pirates career HBP list among players born in October, so that should really help him out.

Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez has been plunked 9 times for the Cubs this year, so he and Reed Johnson have a chance to become only the 2nd pair of Cubs with over 10 HBPs each since the last time the Cubs won a World Series. Ramirez has the most patient approach to getting hit among the NL competitors, averaging 3.3 pitches per plate appearance when he takes a plunking. The other 3 participants only see 2.6 pitches on average, or 1.6 pitches before the one that hits them. The American League group, on the other hand, average 3.6 pitches per plunk, or 2.6 before the ones that hit them.

Chase Utley - Utley rounds out a National League lineup heavily loaded with left-handers. Right handers have been hit 612 times this season compared to just 324 for lefties, and right-handers are getting hit about 37% more often per plate appearance this year, but Utley led the majors with 25 plunks last year, and another left handed batter (Giambi) leads the majors again this season. Utley has been plunked 11 times this year, including a 3 HBP game against the Mets in April, but he hasn't been hit by a pitch on a Monday since May 14th of 2007.

All in all, it should be an excellent competition, and while we always hope they'll change the rules to let non-All-stars in, such as Giambi, Rickie Weeks, Reed Johnson, and Kevin Kouzmanoff this year, there is plenty of talent in the lineup to make for a great contest. Good luck to everyone, stand your ground in the batters box, and don't get hurt - since that's an automatic disqualification.


Update: This year's hit-by-pitch competition has been canceled due to insurance liability.

Update2: Apparently there is not, and never was an All Star Hit By Pitch competition, which has to come as an embarrassment, to Bud Selig and the league.

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