Friday, August 04, 2006

what percentage of pitchers hit batters?

So far in the 2006 season, there have been 568 players who threw at least one pitch in the Major Leagues, and 419 of them (73.8%) have hit a batter with a pitch. Only 1.2% of them hit Craig Biggio with a pitch. Of the 1,024 players who have stepped into a major league batters box this season, 371 of them (36.2%) have been hit by a pitch.
In 2004, there were a record 480 pitchers who hit a batter with a pitch at least once that year, but there were also an all time high of 632 players to pitch in the league, so only 75.9% of big league pitchers threw a plunk that year. In 2003, 77.6% of pitchers threw at least one plunk, which was the highest percentage since 1910. This season's 73.8% is the lowest ratio of pitchers who hit a battter to total pitchers since 1999.

This year has also seen the lowest fraction of pitchers who hit Craig Biggio with a pitch to total pitchers since 1991 when only 2 of the league's 475 pitchers hit him. In 1997, Biggio was hit by 32 of the 534 players who threw a pitch that season - 6% of them. That was his best season in that category (as well as several others).

So, it appears that while the overall rate of batters being hit in the league has been relatively stable for the past few seasons, the percentage of pitchers who hit batters may be declining slightly this season, and the percentage of pitchers who hit Craig Biggio has clearly declined. But with nearly 2 months left to go in the season, there's still time for these things to change.


Pitchers who hit a batterPitchers who hit Biggio
YearNumberPct of totalNumberPct of totalTotal Pitchers
200641973.8%71.2%568
200544974.1%152.5%606
200448075.9%142.2%632
200347577.6%264.2%612
200247077.2%162.6%609
200145877.5%223.7%591
200045975.7%142.3%606
199943273.8%101.7%585
199842375.9%213.8%557
199740976.6%326.0%534
199639773.8%234.3%538
199539271.0%193.4%552
199432669.4%81.7%470
199337073.0%102.0%507
199231771.9%71.6%441
199130263.6%20.4%475
199031765.6%30.6%483
198928663.7%61.3%449
198829467.1%00438


On the batting side, it seems that Craig Biggio's example has been followed by increasing numbers of players around the league - 32.4% of players took one for the team in 1988, Biggio's first season, but that figure climbed to 36.7% in 2001. It has steadied since then, and this year's 36.2% is the closest they've come to that 2001 peak. But unlike most plunk figures, which are at levels not seens since the early 1900s, the league has had several periods of time throughout the 20th century when the percent of batters with at least 1 plunk was higher than it is today. In 1968, 41.1% of the league's batters got hit at least once, and in 1928 37.6% of batters were plunked. The all time high was in 1890 when 64.2% of batters had a pitch strike them, and more than half of the leagues batters were hit as recently as the 1907 season.

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