Friday, June 02, 2006

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.


At 6/02/2006 03:04:00 PM, Blogger george said...

To that thar asterisk on your last oh plunk-meister .... Has a player ever been plunked while being intentionally walked?

At 6/02/2006 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Do you think perhaps the smaller, especially shorter, players are getting plunked more often because they're closer to the plate in the first place?

I imagine batters standing 6' and up have a significant advantage ("reach") in extending their arms to the outside part of the plate and can therefore stand further away from that inside corner than the little guys who need to crowd in order to get their arms all the way across to put good swings on outside pitches.

I can't believe there are no commas in that sentence. That's got to be grammatically incorrect.

Anyway. Maybe "reach" and "proximity to the inside of the plate" are inversely proportional.

good column.

At 6/02/2006 09:03:00 PM, Anonymous the Official GF of PBR said...

Tom, I said the exact thing to him after I read this post. I asked him if he had considered Occam's Razor and short arms->closer to plate->more likely to be hit rather than little guy->won't beat me up if I hit him. I mean, come on! Does it matter what size the batter is, if he has a bat in his hand and a helmet on his head? What is the pitcher going to do? Throw another ball or run.

But we should go easy on him for this one. After all, yesterday was PBR's birthday.

At 6/02/2006 09:14:00 PM, Anonymous the official gf of pbr said...

So now he tells me that no one ever brings their bat when they charge the mound. Maybe if batters did, it would make baseball a little less boring for me.
Yeah, maybe not.

At 6/02/2006 09:21:00 PM, Blogger pbr said...

um... yeah. So George, I'm not sure if there was every anyone who changed there mind in mid-IBB and plunked a batter, but the plate appearance would have to be either one or the other...

And as to the short arms/closer to the plate issue, it's all perfectly logical and probably true, particularly in the 90s when the Atlanta strike zone was in effect - the one that extended out to the opposite side batters box, but it doesn't help me get pitchers to quit complaining about body armor.

At 6/04/2006 06:32:00 PM, Anonymous Z said...

Half the time, Biggio leans into the
pitch, knowing that his armour will take the brunt of the blow. Bigg is
a wuss. So is Bonds.

At 6/04/2006 09:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to recall seeing a game where a pitcher who was having a bad outing (his pitches were really wild) hit a guy while trying to intentionally walk him. Unfortunately I couldn't tell you who or when, only that I have this vague memory of seeing it. Oh, and I think the manager came out immediately to remove said pitcher from the game!

At 6/05/2006 06:55:00 AM, Blogger pbr said...

Brilliant argument Z. Half the time? so the other 137 or 138 times he got hit are legit? That would still put him 24th all time. So he's a wuss for only getting hit 137 times?
This is officially the dumbest argument in sports. Say what you want about Bonds, but Biggio got hit in the face in '97 and stayed in the game. Even if you could somehow subtract the times he's been hit in the elbow pad that didn't hurt, he's still been hit more than anyone in the league.

At 6/05/2006 01:31:00 PM, Anonymous Wesley said...


I don't remember that, but I remember a pitcher capable of that. I would start and end my search at Mitch Williams.


Happy birthday, a couple of days late.


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