2007 Preview: Texas Rangers
Every year, the Astros play two series against the Rangers to determine who gets to keep a Silver Boot trophy, and who gets to claim to be the best baseball team in Texas for another year. This year though, the Rangers might throw a Golden Plunk - Biggio's 288th career HBP. They also might give up Mr. Astros' 3000th career hit. If they're lucky.
As a result of their frequent meetings, the Rangers hold the American League record for plunking Biggio. They've contributed 5 of Biggio's 282 plunks, and they'll have 6 games this year to add to that total, May 18th-20th and June 22nd-24th. Biggio recorded his 6th plunk of the 1998 season on May 20th. Last year, Biggio was stuck on 4 plunks through the entire month of June, but in all, Biggio has been plunked 14 times on those dates - including one by the Rangers on June 22, 2003. Biggio also needs to find his 70th hit of the season somewhere, because it will be his 3000th, and in 1993 he reached 70 hits on June 23rd. The game on June 23rd is listed as being nationally televised on Fox (but prior experience has shown that some Fox affiliates don't bother showing out of market baseball games - ever - FOX25 in Boston for example).
The Rangers have a pretty good group of pitchers with past experience in the field of plunking Biggio, including 4 timer Jamey Wright, who has gone from a non-roster invitee to winning a spot in the starting rotation this spring. He hit 10 batters for the Giants last year, and is up to 114 for his career. He plunked Biggio twice for Colorado in 1997, once for Milwaukee in 2002, and another time for Colorado in 2005 (plunk #264). Vicente Padilla is also in the Rangers rotation - he led the American League in hit batters last year with 17, and plunked Biggio for the Phillie in 2003. In the bullpen, they still have the last two guys to plunk Biggio for the Rangers. Scott Feldman did it last year, and Joaquin Benoit threw plunk 228 on June 22, 2003 (Hey, there's that same game again). The rest of their pitchers are probably well qualified to plunk Biggio also, but we'll have to wait and see with them.
12.1% of the Rangers 2006 plunks were thrown at people whose last names start with the letter B, although they hit people with the last initial C and S slightly more often. Here's the list: Rocco Baldelli, Jason Bartlett (twice), Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Andres Blanco, Ben Broussard (twice), Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, Robinson Cano, Frank Catalanotto, Eric Chavez, Alex Cintron, Alex Cora, Shane Costa, Bubba Crosby, David DeJesus, Ray Durham, Darin Erstad (twice), Josh Fogg, Ryan Garko (twice), Joey Gathright, Jason Giambi, Brian Giles, Jonny Gomes, Vladimir Guerrero, Aaron Guiel, Travis Hafner, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Maicer Izturis, Kenji Johjima, Reed Johnson (twice), Jason Kendall, Adam Kennedy, Paul Konerko (twice), Travis Lee, Victor Martinez, Melvin Mora, Justin Morneau, Dioner Navarro, Greg Norton, Magglio Ordonez, A.J. Pierzynski (twice), Scott Podsednik, Jorge Posada (twice), Mike Redmond, Juan Rivera (twice), Alex Rodriguez, Chris Shelton, Grady Sizemore, Chris Snelling, Matt Stairs, Cory Sullivan, Ichiro Suzuki (twice) and Nick Swisher (twice).