Monday, April 03, 2006

OPENING DAY

Finally. Even an offseason shortened by a month of playoff baseball seems entirely too long. Finally, peanut vendors have something to do. Finally umpires can get back to annoying us. Finally we can get back to second guessing baseball managers (instead of everybody else). And, finally, Craig Biggio can get back to the quest to become the most plunked batter in major league history. The modern record fell in 2005. The all-time record and the unification of the records is just 15 plunks away.

The Astros seemed to have this goal in mind in the offseason. Knowing how important it was to keep Craig Biggio healthy and on the field in 2006, Houston went out and acquired the only person ever to put him on the disabled list and signed him to play left field. 273 times being hit by pitches never put Craig Biggio on the disabled list, but Preston Wilson did, with a takeout slide in the 2000 season. Biggio played in a career low 101 games that year. With Wilson now playing left field for the Astros, the path is clear for Biggio to play a full season and break some records. If Biggio plays in over 100 games at 2nd base this year he will become just the 4th player ever to do so after his 40th birthday. The other three are Napolean Lajoie, Rabbit Marranville, and Joe Morgan. You might see a connection with that group.

Craig Biggio has never been hit by a pitch on opening day, but today's starter for the visiting Marlins will be Dontrelle Willis. Willis is the last person to hit Biggio with a pitch, on September 12, 2005 in Florida. Willis also plunked Biggio on May 18, 2004. Biggio has been hit twice on April 3rd - in 1996 by Chan Ho Park, and in 2003 by Steve Reed.

5 Comments:

At 4/03/2006 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Play Ball!

 
At 4/03/2006 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I was just reading up on your White Sox preview post and got to thinking about starters going seven innings and quality starting pitching:

If you consider Plunks Per Inning (PPI) thrown by (starting) pitchers, is there a significant difference in the numbers between pitchers who go longer into games vs. pitchers who only pitch the first three or four innings?

AND, does that PPI ratio change depending on which innings are considered? That is, as pitchers get more tired as the game progresses, are they more apt to hit batters?

Consider the (former) Red Sox leader in hit batsmen, Bronson Arroyo, who almost never went deeper than the sixth inning in games he started, and, if I recall correctly, usually hit batters in the first, second, and third innings.

Is it about getting tired and losing control, or about hitting batsmen early, until settling down and finding a rhythm. Or is it about better pitchers who go longer into games hitting fewer batsmen because their better, or pitchers who hit lots of batters leaving early precisely because those extra baserunners create problems that lead to early calls to the bullpen?

Play ball.

Thanks!
-t

 
At 4/03/2006 06:12:00 PM, Blogger pbr said...

That's a long question.
Last year I looked at how many of Biggio's plunks came during quality starts in this post. There has been one plunk since then, and it was a quality start so the count is up to 76. While I don't have inning by inning data for the 93-99 seasons, I'll take a look tomorrow at what data I do have to see if there are any trends regarding what inning these plunks came in.

One other option you didn't mention is some pitchers might throw inside and hit batters early to set a tone, claim the inside of the plate, and put some fear in the batter. Obviously that's not the sort of thing that works against Biggio, but against other teams it might lead to a pitcher having a good game against a timid lineup.

A more extravagant project might be to collect all the plunks from last season by inning, to really look at what your asking, but that might not fit into the schedule just now. And, I'm not sure Bronson Arroyo or the Red Sox in general would be a good case in point since Arroyo might have any number of reasons to throw at a batter intentionally - like they made fun of his hair, or his album, or they play for the yankees and have one of those annoy "first initial - first sylable of last name" nicknames.

 
At 4/03/2006 10:43:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

HA! Yankee bashing. I love it.

Also, yes, excellent points, I look forward to any and all hbp analysis. Great work.

 
At 4/04/2006 09:06:00 AM, Anonymous dm said...

Ah, how satisfying to once again watch real baseball. And read real baseball blogs. Welcome to spring, everybody.

 

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