2007 Preview: Atlanta Braves
Last season, the Atlanta Braves finished third in the NL East, and had their lowest winning percentage since 1990. On the plus side, they hit Craig Biggio once and and hit a total of 55 batters. That's not a franchise record, but it is more batters than they have ever hit since they've been known as the Atlanta Braves... or the Milwaukee Braves... or the Boston Braves. The Braves franchise hasn't hit 55 batters since 1911 when they were known as the Boston Rustlers, the year before they became the Braves. Hitting Craig Biggio once in a season ties their franchise record - they've never plunked Biggio twice in the same season, and Greg Maddux is the only pitcher who has plunked Biggio twice for the Braves.
The Braves have 4 pitchers on the roster who have hit Craig Biggio with a pitch before. Chuck James was the most recent pitcher to do so, throwing plunk 282 last September. Oscar Villarreal threw plunk 225 in 2003, Bob Wickman threw plunk 140 in 1998, and it's been nearly 15 years since John Smoltz handed Biggio his 14th plunk. Smoltz plunked Biggio on July 27th, 1992, so it will have been over 15 years by the time Houston and Atlanta meet for the first time this season, on July 31st. 1992 was also the last season in which Biggio made it to July 31st without recording his 6th HBP of the year, so that should be to late for the Braves to be the team to throw plunk 288, and he'll really have to slump or take a vacation if he wants to save his 3000th hit for the Braves. The Braves have already given up 174 of Biggio 2930 hits. If Biggio hasn't broken the record and the milestone by their second series against each other, when the Braves visit Houston, there may be panic in the streets and calls for a contract extension. The Astros and Braves once again play the last 3 games of the season against each other, but this year they'll be in Houston. Is it too early to hope one of those games might see the first player in recorded history to get hit by a pitch for the 300th time?
Aside from Craig Biggio, the 2006 Braves plunked Astros' Chris Burke, Willie Taveras, and Luke Scott. They also hit Bobby Abreu, Eliezer Alfonzo, Rocco Baldelli, Michael Barrett, Barry Bonds, Rob Bowen, Miguel Cabrera, Vinny Castilla, Brady Clark, Tony Clark, Craig Counsell (twice), Carlos Delgado, Chris Denorfia, Chris Duncan, Johnny Estrada, Cliff Floyd (twice), Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Brendan Harris, Nick Johnson, Jeff Kent (twice), Mike Lieberthal (twice), Hector Luna, Kevin Millar, Miguel Olivo, David Ortiz, Josh Paul, Brandon Phillips, Jorge Posada, Jason Repko, Jimmy Rollins, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Tejada, Joe Thurston, Matt Treanor (twice), Chase Utley (twice), Shane Victorino, Jose Vidro, Josh Willingham, Randy Winn, David Wright (twice) and Ryan Zimmerman.