Monday, August 14, 2006

plunk rates near milestones

Last week, commenter Tom asked "are we there yet?", or more specifically, how do Craig Biggio's rates of getting hit by pitches change when he is in sight of an important milestone?

The answer appears to be that they change pretty randomly. The fastest 20 plunk leadup to a major milestone was the 20 plunks ending with Biggio's 200th. During the games following his 180th HBP, up to and including the game when he recorded #200, he was hit once every 24.2 plate appearances. His career average is 1 per 42.1 plate appearances, but this season he's around 1 HBP per 64.7 plate appearances. The 20 plunks ending when he broke Don Baylor's post-1900 record saw Biggio get hit once every 41.85 plate appearances, but the last 5 of those came in the span in which he was hit once every 11.8 PAs.
As for what this means for the lead-up to plunk 288, so far he's been hit just once per 76.1 plate appearances since plunk 273 and once per 66.5 plate appearances since plunk 268, so if he holds those paces, they will be the slowest 15 and 20 plunk periods leading up to a milestone of his career.

Below you can see the average plate appearances per HBP of the 5, 15, and 20 plunk period leading up to several milestones, compared with an equal length (in HBPs) span immediately prior. It appears that the constant media attention that has followed his career has not put undo pressure on him to perform when these milestones come around. It just goes to show the mental toughness of someone who can just go out there and put the media circus behind him and perform as though no one really cares that he's about to pass Tommy Tucker on the all time HBP list, or about to become the 4th player ever to reach 250 HBPs or whatever was going on at the time. So, undoubtedly he'll continue to go out and let the plunks come at their own pace as though the only ones watching are some weirdo on the internet, and a few people who read his website. That's the true mark of a great competitor, right?

20 plunk spans:
MilestoneHBP rangePA/HBPPrevious HBP rangePA/HBP

15 plunk spans:
MilestoneHBP rangePA/HBPPrevious HBP rangePA/HBP

5 plunk spans:
MilestoneHBP rangePA/HBPPrevious HBP rangePA/HBP

By the way, Biggio's period of most frequent plunkings came immediately AFTER his 100th career HBP - from plunk 100 to 120 he was hit once every 13.9 plate appearances, making that the highest rate of any 20 plunk span. His highest rate for a 15 HBP span was from #101 to #116 when he got hit once every 10.7 PAs, and his highest 5 plunk rate was following #106, up to #111 when he got hit once every 8 plate appearances.


At 8/14/2006 04:37:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Nice post. Thanks!

At 8/14/2006 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Another question for you:

As much as I'd like to follow every team in major league baseball being employed full time I'm left with only a little free time that I can devote to the game, and I'm from Boston, so that goes automatically to the Red Sox, any time left over then toes to the AL East, and then the American League in general, then to any National League teams affected by the Sox (Dodgers, Reds, Padres), then NL teams featured on SportsCenter (which almost never features the dregs of the league), then anyone I missed.

What I'm saying is: I don't follow the Astros as much as I'd like, and can't answer this question on my own:

Biggio seems like an even-tempered fellow, a nice guy even, has he ever been ejected following a plunk?

And, if that has occurred (or occurred multiple times) has it occurred at statistically significant times, or has it had any effect on the club's W-L record?

At 8/15/2006 10:10:00 AM, Blogger pbr said...

Tom, I'm assuming your not implying, in your comment about what sportscenter features, that the Astros are among the dregs of the national league - it's true they're rarely featured on sportscenter, and it's true that sportscenter tends to have a limited focus, mostly on teams in states that neighbor Connecticut, but the Astros are still the defending NL champs and still have a decent shot at a playoff spot.

But to answer your question, the only time Biggio has been thrown out of a game after a plunk (and I think it was his only career ejection of any kind) was the Lost Plunk. Jeff Weaver hit him, umpire Doug Eddings refused to award him first base saying he failed to move, Biggio subsequently popped out and wished to return to the discussion regarding his being hit by a pitch. So, Eddings tossed him. Other than that he's never been ejected after a plunk, never charged the mound after an HBP, and only been pinch-run for once after a plunk (he left the game with a bruised left calf, but played the next day). He once stayed in the game after being hit on the cheek bone.

But back to your other issue, which is one I also have experience with, you really should try to expand your horizons beyond the Red Sox. For a long time, there seemed to be this uneasiness among a good number of red sox fans that you weren't being enough of a fan if you didn't have a better option for every decision every manager made in every game they played - it was almost like every red sox fan was convinced that they might someday, completely at random, be called down from the grandstands and have to manage the game - and you had to know as much as you could because if you got called on to manage you didn't want to let everyone down and be the guy who left Pedro in too long or left Buckner on first instead of making a defensive substitution or any number of other moves that look so wrong in hindsite. Well, then the Red Sox won the world series, and a lot of people, including myself, realized that they probably weren't going to need our help. It was mostly just a matter of assembling the right pieces. But then they went and disassembled the world series team and made a number of other puzzling front office moves, so the people who didn't realize the Sox didn't need there help shifted their focus to the front office and they all think that they might some day scratch off some kind of ticket from dunkin donuts and win the GM job. Cause hey, Theo almost seems like a guy they picked out of the stands one day and gave the job to. I see this in your question Tom, because you admitted you spend your time watching the guys the Red Sox let go in the NL - Nomar and Mueller in LA, Arroyo in Cincinatti, Bard (and Bellhorn?) in San Diego.
So Tom, I encourage you and all the other fanatical devotees of one team to expand your horizons. Become a fan of the game itself. Maybe even watch the playoffs even if your team isn't in it.

Or, do what I did and become really really focused on one particular stat - but for a team you haven't followed that closely the rest of your life. Trust me, it's a lot more fun than worrying about whether Wily Mo Pena is the outfielder of the future, or if Manny Delcarmen might be able to move into the rotation someday.

(plus, they can't win with out Varitek anyway, so you might as well find something else follow for the rest of the season - like a nice plunk record chase maybe.)

At 8/15/2006 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Ha. I reread my comment after posting and caught that implication too late. I did not intend to imply the astros are the dregs at all.

Also, I did not mean to convey that I am focused soley on the Sox (the red ones). I am, in fact, a fan of the game, especially the strategic and statistic aspects. (Also the web gem aspect, I can't get enough of defensive brilliance. Like they say 'the most beautiful thing in sports is a well-executed double-play' or something to that effect.)

As for the post-Sox players in the NL I follow it goes Dodgers (Nomar, Mueller, Lowe, Grady), Cincinatti (Arroyo), San Diego (Roberts), and Mets/Braves/Astros (Pedro/Renteria/Rocket)

Bard wasn't aroud long enough to count, though I'm happy he's doing well, and Bellhorn's bounced around enough that he's moved beyond my limited radar.

So, again, to emphasize the point: I am a fan of the game. Then I am a fan of the Red Sox.

I think I've only really woken up to an appreciation of major leage baseball as a whole over the last few years. I've been fortunate enough to be watching during a Red Sox world series, (one of?) the greatest post-season pitching performances ever in the World Champion White Sox, and now a phenomenal season by the Detroit Tigers (who I had hoped would collapse this week in Boston, but we'll have to see how that plays).

It seems there are more rising young stars than there have been before (Verlander, Liriano, Papelbon, Howard, Sizemore, etc), aging aces that aren't showing their age (Maddux, Clemens, Smoltz, Schilling, Wells(ok, maybe Wells, but did you see his last start?)) and plenty of talent in between (Oswalt, Mauer, Wright, Young, Ortiz, Jeter.... ...)

Anyway, it's a good time for baseball, and if I could I'd Tivo every game and watch them all the next day if I didn't have to work.

At 8/15/2006 05:41:00 PM, Blogger pbr said...

Okay good. Keep up the good questions.


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