2006 Preview: Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals did not hit Craig Biggio with a pitch last year and have assembled a staff for spring training this year without a single pitcher who has ever plunked Biggio. Clearly that doesn't mean they won't hit him this year though. Of the 15 pitchers who plunked Biggio in 2005, only 4 had hit him in prior seasons.
The Nats certainly have plenty of likely candidates for a 2006 plunk, and they'll see each other in 8 games. Livan Hernandez is the staff ace and hit 13 in '05 including 4 batters in one game. Brian Lawrence had 11 plunks last year, and Ramon Ortiz, Tony Armas and Ryan Drese are all right handers expected to throw a lot of innings, and who plunk between 5 and 10 a year.
If Biggio gets 40 plate appearances against the Nationals this year, he is 58.2% likely to be hit by a pitch at least once in 2006 (based on career HBPs per plate appearance against the Nats/Expos). His probability of 2 or more plunks is 21.3%, and the probability of the Nationals becoming the single season Biggio plunking record holders is 0.0022%.
On the other hand, we learned last year that Biggio has been hit most often by people born in the Chinese year of the Snake, and by pitchers born under the astrological sign Sagittarius, but the Nationals have no pitchers on the 40 man roster with either of those signs. This could be a sign that it could be another no-plunk year for Biggio against Washington, if you believe in that sort of thing. They do, however, have 4 non-roster pitchers in camp born in the year of the Snake, and one of them, Saul Rivera, is also a Sagittarius. He could be a favorite to plunk Biggio if the Nationals find a roster spot for him.
UPDATE: Since this was originally posted, the Nationals have signed Pedro Astacio, the all time leader in hitting Craig Biggio with pitches. Astacio has plunked Biggio 7 times and appears set to join the Nationals starting rotation.