plunk someone your own size
Just to add a bit more fuel to the recent debate around the media concerning pitching inside, body armor (espn insider link), and the pitchers who like to complain about them, I'd like to point out the following:
The average size of major league pitchers over the past 10 seasons is around 6'2", and 200 pounds. During that span, batter under 6'2" have been plunked about once every 109 plate appearances* while batter 6'2" and over get hit once per 115 plate appearances. So, batters shorter than the average pitcher get plunked about 6% more often. It gets worse - batters 5'11" and under get hit 10.2% more often than the 6'2" and over set, batters 5'9" and under get hit 11.5% more often, and batters 5'7" and under get hit 63.1% more often.
There's something illogical about this - shouldn't bigger players get hit more often just based on their surface area available to hit? Why should David Eckstein get hit so much more often than Albert Pujols? Shouldn't bigger players have a harder time moving out of the way (for those who choose to do so)?
The difference is more striking if you incorporate players heights into the equation. By multiplying their heights in inches by their plate appearances, we can see how often they're plunked per inch of plate appearance. For example, 1 David Eckstein plate appearance equals 67 PAinches, since he stands 5'7", while one Pujols Plate appearance = 75 PAinches.
Figured this way, batters 6'2" and over get hit once per 8,661.5 PAinches, while batters shorter than that get hit once per 7,798 PAinches, or about 11% more often. The batters 5'11" and under get hit 17.8% more often, the 5'9" and under batters get hit 21.8% more often, and the 5'7" and under batters get hit 83.9% more frequently per PAinch.
So, while I generally believe that the vast majority of HBPs are pitches not actually intended to hit someone, it seems likely from this result that when a pitcher chooses to throw near someone, he's going to choose a smaller batter when he can. This "establishing the inside half of the plate" theory tends to get carried out against guys who may seem to the pitcher to be less of threat to come out to the mound and try to establish the inside half of their face.
So maybe pitchers should stop throwing at smaller batters if they're going to complain about body armor. Or, maybe a nice compromise could be reached where armored batters get much longer suspensions for charging the mound.
But a better idea is that plunked batters take their base, and everybody keeps their mouths shut and plays baseball. That's what Craig Biggio would do. 277 times.
*For the purposes of this study, plate appearances have been calculated to exclude intentional walks, since it would be very difficult to hit a batter while intentionally walking him.