2007 Preview: Florida Marlins
In 2006, the Florida Marlins did not hit Craig Biggio with a pitch, but they were a young and inexperienced team building for the future. They hit 74 batters, and their staff ace Dontrelle Willis led the majors with 19 hit batters. No doubt inspired by Dontrelle's "veteran" leadership, rookies Ricky Nolasco (10) and Scott Olsen (7) combined to plunk 17 batters, good for 2nd and 4th place among rookies.
Any of those three would be a likely bet to throw the pitch if Craig Biggio is going to get plunked by the Marlins in 2007. They also have brought in Felix Rodriguez, as a non-roster invitee to training camp. He has hit 32 batters in his career - which isn't that impressive, but it still ranks 2nd on the Marlins. The 35 pitchers the Marlins had on their spring training roster this year have combined to throw only 173 plunks - 109 less than Biggio has received. The 21 players who actually threw a pitch for the Marlins in 2006 have a combined career total of 168 plunks.
The Marlins only have 5 games to contribute to Biggio's career plunk total in 2007, with a two game set in Houston, April 16th and 17th, and a 3 games in Florida at the beginning of August. If Biggio were to get the 6 plunks he needs to reach 288 by the end of the first Florida series, it would not be the fastest he's ever racked up 6 plunks, but it would be in the neighborhood. The game on the 17th is the Astros 14th of the season, and when Biggio passed the so called "modern record" it took him just 14 games to get the final 6 plunks (plunks 263 to 268 to pass Don Baylor). Getting to 3000 hits by then would require 5 hits per game, which is probably too much to ask. The August series will probably be too late for the Marlins to be the ones to throw the 288th plunk of Biggio's career or his 3000th hit, but that's just going by the rates at which he's accumulated stats in the past. It's always possible he'll slow down to build the suspense, like a true showman. Or, having a quality backup in Mark Loretta could mean he'll get a little less playing time, but I prefer the first theory.
If you feel like following another chase for 3000 hits, you might want to follow the Florida Marlins this season. Last year, the Marlins had 40 players who got at least 1 plate appearance for them, and their combined career total in hits is 2,858. So, the big question is, when will the Marlins field a team with 3000 career hits? The addition of Aaron Boone helps with that - he has 907 career hits, which is almost as many as the next two leading Marlins.
Here's how the career totals for the 2006 Marlins compare to Craig Biggio:
As mentioned above, the 2006 Marlins did not plunk Craig Biggio but they did hit Clint Barmes (twice), Jose Bautista, David Bell, Carlos Beltran, Russell Branyan, Chris Burke (twice), Pat Burrell, Freddie Bynum, Marlon Byrd (twice), Miguel Cairo, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Church (twice), Royce Clayton (twice), Carlos Delgado (twice), David Dellucci, Matt Diaz (twice), Damion Easley, Pedro Feliz, Steve Finley, Cliff Floyd, Ryan Freel, Shawn Green (twice), Brandon Harper, Ryan Howard (four times), Damian Jackson, Nick Johnson, Andruw Jones (three times), Jacque Jones, Austin Kearns, Ryan Langerhans, Matt LeCroy, Paul Lo Duca (twice), Julio Lugo, Nate McLouth (twice), Doug Mirabelli, Yadier Molina (twice), Melvin Mora (twice), Abraham Nunez, Juan Pierre, Aramis Ramirez, Edgar Renteria, Mike Rivera, Chris Roberson, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Smith, Alfonso Soriano (twice), Chase Utley (twice), Shane Victorino (three times), Craig Wilson, Preston Wilson, Kevin Youkilis, Chris Young, and Ryan Zimmerman with pitches.