Sunday, March 18, 2007

2007 Preview: San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants haven't hit Craig Biggio with a pitch since 1999, but they also hadn't hit more than 50 batters since 1999, until last year when they hit 70. 70 plunks was the highest total for a Giants pitching staff since 1900. The 1900 Giants hit 94 batters, including the first 4 plunks thrown in the career of Christy Mathewson. 1900 was also the last year someone not named Hughie Jennings held the career hit-by-pitch record, as Hughie Jennings broke it the following year. It's entirely possible that the New York Giants threw the plunk that gave Jennings the top spot on that list, and that the San Francisco Giants could throw the plunk that moves Biggio ahead of Jennings.

The last time the Giants plunked Biggio, it was on a pitch thrown by Mark Gardner, on May 15th, 1999. This season, the first game between the Giants and Astros is on May 15th, the 8th anniversary of the last time they plunked him. The Giants play home-and-home three games series in May, and that could be a perfect opportunity for them to throw Plunk 288. Biggio, of course, is 6 HBPs away from the record, and he has recorded his 6th plunk of the season in the month of May in seven of his previous 19 seasons, including three of the last four.

The Giants' pitching staff's largest and most expensive offseason acquisition was Barry Zito, who hit 13 batters for the A's last season, but has never plunked Craig Biggio. He'll join Matt Morris, who hit Biggio with a pitch on September 19, 2003 (for the Cardinals), and hit 14 batters last season. The Giants also have Brad Hennessey who plunked 10 in 2006, but has never plunked Biggio. Russ Ortiz is also on the Giants roster, with one career experience plunking Biggio, and another one time plunker of Biggio, Sunny Kim, is also in the Giants camp, but not on the roster.

While the Giants are in a great place on the Astros schedule for throwing the pitch that becomes Plunk 288, they are probably going to be too early to throw the pitch that Biggio turns into his 3000th hit. Biggio has never reached 70 hits in a season earlier that June 2nd, and the year he did that he batted .325 and had 210 hits on the season. That's not a pace he's likely going to be able to set this year, so reaching 70 hits against the Giants doesn't look good. But, the Giants have already contributed 208 pitches that Biggio turned into hits, and they'll probably chip in with a few more this year.

In 2006, the Giants plunked the following batters: Garrett Atkins, Jose Bautista, Jason Bay, Mark Bellhorn, David Bush, Eric Byrnes, Jamey Carroll, Jose Castillo, J.D. Closser, Craig Counsell, Doug Davis, Carlos Delgado, Mark DeRosa, Matt Diaz, Adam Dunn, Damion Easley, David Eckstein, Juan Encarnacion, Johnny Estrada, Robert Fick, Prince Fielder (twice), Jeff Francoeur (three times), Nomar Garciaparra (twice), Brian Giles, Khalil Greene (twice), Jeremy Hermida (twice), Matt Holliday (five times), Conor Jackson, Geoff Jenkins, Ben Johnson, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Ryan Langerhans, Carlos Lee, Mike Lieberthal, Felipe Lopez, Eli Marrero, Yadier Molina, Mike Napoli, Ronny Paulino, Brandon Phillips, Mike Piazza (twice), Carlos Quentin (three times), Jose Reyes, John Rheinecker, Dave Roberts (twice), Aaron Rowand, Jeff Salazar, Alfonso Soriano, Scott Spiezio (twice), Matt Treanor, Chase Utley, Rickie Weeks (twice) and Jack Wilson.

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