Saturday, March 31, 2007

2007 Preview: Chicago White Sox

Rounding out the Astros interleague schedule this year are the Chicago White Sox. The league really seems to be trying to keep that North Coast/South Coast baseball rivalry going, having the Astros visit the White Sox two consecutive years after they met in the World Series in 2005. Back in 1997, the White Sox plunked Craig Biggio the in the second and third games he played against them (on his way to 34 for the year), but they haven't thrown a pitch that hit him since.

The White Sox have no one on the roster who has hit Biggio with a pitch before, but Javier Vazquez hit a whole lot of other batters last year. He threw 15 plunks, leading the team. Jose Contreras hit another 10 batters, but no one else on the team hit more than 6. Then again, maybe they just haven't found the right batters to hit.

The Astros play the White Sox June 8th-10th, which is probably going to be to soon for the White Sox to be the team that gives up Biggio's 3000th hit, but it's not out of the question. Biggio has reached 70 hits in a season as early as June 7th just three years ago, and on June 11th the year before that. He notched his 70th hit of the season on June 10th in 1994. The White Sox probably have a better chance of throwing Biggio's record breaking 288th plunk. He's reached 6 plunks before the beginning of June in 10 of the last 12 seasons, but last year he had only 4 as of June 8th. A slight increase over last year's plunk pace will put Biggio in a decent position to break the all time HBP record in Chicago.

The Whites Sox hit Jason Bartlett, Ron Belliard, Adrian Beltre, Yuniesky Betancourt, Casey Blake (twice), Ben Broussard, Frank Catalanotto, Carl Crawford, Mike Cuddyer (twice), David DeJesus (twice), Chris Duncan, Carl Everett, Esteban German, Jason Giambi (twice), Curtis Granderson, Travis Hafner (twice), Jerry Hairston, Ramon Hernandez, Aaron Hill, Brandon Inge (three times), Joe Inglett, Kenji Johjima, Jason Kendall, Jose Lopez, Mark Loretta (twice), Victor Martinez, Kevin Mench, Doug Mirabelli, Trot Nixon, Magglio Ordonez (twice), Corey Patterson, Roberto Petagine, Aramis Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Grady Sizemore, Chris Snelling, Mike Sweeney (twice), Mark Teixeira, Miguel Tejada, Frank Thomas, Kevin Youkilis and Delmon Young last year. But hey, maybe they had a good reason.



At 4/02/2007 09:25:00 AM, Anonymous DM said...

There is an interesting article on the op-ed page of today's New York Times discussing the reasons underlying the surge in batting statistics in baseball in recent years. His point is that expansion, not steroids, could be more to blame. Anyway, it's interesting because he quotes a key HBP statistic to bolster his case: before 1993, there were only 9 players who were hit more than 25 times in a single season, but since then it has been done 13 times. It would be difficult to blame steroids for this increase - a more likely explanation is the dilution of pitching talent due to the expanded number of players in the majors. I figured you needed to know about this.

At 4/02/2007 11:14:00 AM, Blogger pbr said...

He's overlooking the fact that the first player to break 25 plunks after 1993 was Biggio - with 27 in 1996. Then everyone else jumped on board with once he made it cool. 2 more did it in '97 (when Biggio got 34) and then a handful more through 2004. But it's only 7 guys making up that group - Biggio, Kendall, Eckstein, Fernando Vina, Craig Wilson, Andres Galaragga and FP Santangelo so I think it's a bit of a stretch to use the fact that 7 guys got hit a lot to show that expansion made pitching worse. (I don't disagree with the idea that expansion made pitching worse - I just don't think that's a good way to prove it, and I don't think expansion ranks ahead of steroids on the list of things that made pitching seem worse and HRs go up).

At 4/02/2007 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to predict Biggio's record-setting HPB to be July 18, a Wednesday afternoon as he visits the Washington Nationals. For the sake of consistency, I'll also predict this same game to be his 3000th hit as well. My name is Kenny and I hope to skip work that day to see the game with my three lovely daughters. I also expect to show my support by wearing a new HBP:BGO T-shirt, but also my Nats hat!

At 4/03/2007 10:17:00 PM, Blogger pbr said...

See, the rest of you should be more like Kenny and uncork the power of the HBP:BGO shirt. I'm not saying it will help him get hit - but Cletus did. Frequently. And I, for one, am not going to argue with Cletus J. "Bubba" Huckabee Jr.


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