Thursday, March 29, 2007

2007 Preview: Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners are one of the last baseball franchises on earth which have never hit Craig Biggio with a pitch. They hit 53 batters last year. 8 of them played 2nd base. One of them had over 200 career HBPs. But none of them were even named Craig, much less Craig Biggio. The Mariners opportunities to plunk Biggio have been extremely limited, but this year they have what is almost certainly their final chance. Three games in June to add their franchise to the list of teams that have helped Craig Biggio become the most plunked batter of all time. Are they the sort of people who would jump in at the very end and throw the record breaking plunk, claiming the entire accomplishment for themselves like one of those people who puts in the very last piece of the jigsaw puzzle after someone else did the rest, or solves the Wheel of Fortune puzzle after the other player goes bankrupt greedily trying to fill in every letter with spin after spin? Are the Mariners that kind of team? We'll find out June 15th, 16th and 17th in Houston. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that if that's the kind of contribution the Mariners want to make. Better late than never. It's not a great analogy anyway, because the accomplishment is Biggio's - the guys throwing the pitches are more often hapless witnesses to greatness.

53 plunks tied the Mariners with Detroit for 9th place on the American League plunk chart. The top two contributors to that total, Joel Pineiro (10) and Gil Meche (8) have both left the team, leaving Jarrod Washburn as their leading incumbent plunk thrower. But, they've signed Jeff Weaver, who hit 10 batters last year and has thrown 110 plunks in his career. Also new to the team is Miguel Batista - he threw plunk #280 last year and plunk 182 in 2001 (both plunks were in the 3rd inning with a runner on 2nd base).

The Mariners only hit 6 batters in June last year, if they match that number this year, and throw them all at Biggio, he won't need any help from the rest of the league (in case you haven't been paying attention, Biggio needs 6 plunks for the all time record). 6 plunks would tie the single season team record for hitting Biggio with pitches, and it would break the single series record. Biggio has never recorded his 6th plunk of a season on June 15th, 16th or 17th, but he did get his 70th hit of the 1992 season on June 16th. Biggio's 70th hit this year (if you still haven't been paying attention) will be his 3000th.

Rocco Baldelli, Ron Belliard, Hank Blalock, Aaron Boone, Jorge Cantu, David DeJesus (twice), Mark DeRosa, Mark Ellis (four times), Lew Ford, Alex Gonzalez, Luis Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Nick Green, Vladimir Guerrero, Ramon Hernandez, Aaron Hill, Omar Infante, Maicer Izturis, Conor Jackson, Derek Jeter, Reed Johnson (twice), Jason Kendall (twice), Adam Kennedy, Paul Konerko, Gerald Laird, Rob Mackowiak, Doug Mientkiewicz (twice), Kevin Millar (twice), Melvin Mora, Mike Napoli, Greg Norton, Pablo Ozuna, Corey Patterson, Wily Mo Pena, Jorge Posada, Juan Rivera, Ryan Shealy, Matt Stairs, Nick Swisher, Miguel Tejada, Marcus Thames, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Vance Wilson and Eric Young were all plunked by the Mariners in 2006.



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