Friday, March 16, 2007

2007 Preview: San Diego Padres

Craig Biggio has been hit by 11 pitches since the last time the San Diego Padres did it, and last year the Padres made it through the season without plunking Biggio for the first time since 2002. They did hit 50 batters in 2006, and they plunked Barry Bonds 4 times so at least Russ Springer will be excited about the plunk-output of the Padres' pitching staff. No major league team plunked Barry Bonds more in 2006 than the Padres. However, although they won the NL West, 50 hit batters was the second lowest total in the National League. Clearly there is room for improvement, and Craig Biggio will have 7 games to try to help them out with that.

The Astros don't see the Padres until July 26th this year, but Biggio hasn't made it that late into the season without getting hit 6 times since 1994. As you may have heard, Craig Biggio needs only 6 more HBPs to break the all time record in that category - Hughie Jennings' 287. But, even if he has broken the record by the time the Padres get to throw baseballs toward him, each plunk after that sets a new record. In prior years, Biggio has been hit by a pitch 15 times on the dates that the Astros and Padres have games scheduled for this season, including his first HBP against the Padres. Calvin Schiraldi plunked Biggio on July 28, 1990.

The Padres were led by Chan Ho Park in the hitting batters category for the 2006 season (10 hbps), but he's moved to the Mets. Woody Williams was their second leading plunker (7 hbps), but he's pitching for the Astros this year. Mike Thompson also hit 7 batters for the Padres, making him their leading plunker among those returning with the team. They still have Shawn Estes, who plunked Biggio twice, and Jake Peavy who is a one time plunker of Biggio, but they've also added 2 time Biggio plunker Greg Maddux. Maddux has hit 125 batters in his career, but he faced 572 batters in '06 without hitting any of them.

As you may also have heard, Biggio needs just 70 more hits to become the 27th player to reach 3,000 career hits. (He'll also bring the letter B into a tie with C and M for most 3,000 hit players with that last initial - he'll be the 4th B in the club.) The chances of hit #3000 coming against the Padres look pretty small though. Biggio had 91 hits by July 26th last season, so he'd need at least a 24% decline in production to be on the brink of 3000 hits when the Padres come to Houston.

Judging by last years results, the best day of the week to get plunked by the Padres is Saturday - 13 of their 50 plunks were thrown on Saturday. They hit more batters in the second and third inning (8 each) than any other inning, and they while they didn't plunk any of the Astros, they hit Giants batters 10 times (though I suspect that after they plunked Barry Bonds 4 times, he demanded his teammates throw themselves in front of pitches to make him feel better).

The Padres hit Richie Sexson, Matt Murton, Jeromy Burnitz, and Mark Sweeney on Sundays in 2006; Shea Hillenbrand, Luis Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, Julio Lugo, and Aaron Rowand on Mondays; and Aaron Rowand, Kevin Frandsen, Carlos Quentin, Andre Ethier and Scott Rolen on Tuesday. They hit Eric Reed, Orlando Hudson, Barry Bonds, Chris Coste, Shane Victorino, Rickie Weeks, Corey Koskie and Matt Holliday on Wednesdays; Omar Vizquel, Jason Kendall, Chad Billingsley, Craig Counsell and Yorvit Torrealba on Thursday; and Russell Martin, Jose Guillen, Xavier Nady, Garrett Atkins, Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Adam Dunn, John Mabry, Omar Vizquel and Jose Lopez on Fridays. On Saturdays, the Padres hit Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Quentin, Juan Rivera, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Francoeur, Adrian Beltre, Scott Spiezio, Kevin Frandsen, Barry Bonds, David Eckstein, Cliff Floyd, Andruw Jones and David Wright.



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