How many arms does it take?
As you've probably noticed by now, Spring Training is underway, and 30 Major League teams are tuning up for the 2007 season. From a look at the rosters for each team, there are 907 different pitchers trying out for a chance to throw baseballs at people at the Major League level. Among those 907 pitchers are 74 of the 212 pitchers who have hit Craig Biggio with a pitch. Last year, there were 79 pitchers invited to spring training who had previously hit Craig Biggio with a pitch, and 72 of them made a good enough impression that they got to pitch in the majors in the '06 regular season.
26 teams have at least one pitcher in camp who have plunked Biggio, including all 16 National League teams. The Nationals are the only NL team without a member of the Biggio-plunkers club on their 40 man roster, but they do have Brandon Claussen and Jason Simontacchi in camp as non-roster invitees. The only team on the Astros' 2007 schedule who doesn't have someone in camp who has hit Biggio before is the White Sox.
Obviously though, there is a first time for everyone to hit Craig Biggio with a pitch - since 212 pitchers have hit him, you can safely assume that he's been hit 212 times by pitchers who have never hit him before. Last year, 7 of Biggio's 9 plunks were thrown by first timers. At least 6 pitchers who had never done it before have plunked Biggio in each of the last 15 seasons and in 16 of the last 18 seasons. 2 or more new plunkers have emerged in 18 consecutive season.
So, among those 907 pitchers in major league camps, a handful will become first time Biggio-plunkers this season. One will throw the record breaking plunk 288. One will throw the pitch that becomes Biggio's 3000th hit. And if last year's trend continues, more pitchers will have a chance to do those things than ever before. In the 2006 season, 486 different pitchers hit a batter. That breaks the previous record of 480 set in 2004. 635 different players made a pitching appearance last year, which is also an all time record, breaking the 2004 mark of 632. Teams seem to be using an ever increasing number of pitchers and spreading their workload thinner - the average pitching appearance in 2006 lasted just under 2-1/3 innings, making it the first year pitchers averaged less than 7 outs per appearance. In 2006, teams used an average of 3.85 pitchers per game continuing a clear trend over the last 30 years. In 1980, teams used 2.56 pitchers per game; in 1990 they averaged 3.02; and in 2000 the average was up to 3.54 pitchers per game. It looks as though the average game will require over 4 pitchers per team by 2010, and in 100 years the trend suggests we'll be seeing 1 pitcher per inning.
Here's the full list of pitcher who have hit Craig Biggio with a pitch who are participating in 2007 spring training:
Arizona: Juan Cruz, Livan Hernandez, Jorge Julio, Jose Valverde, Brandon Webb
NY Mets: Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Martinez, Chan Ho Park, Dave Williams
Atlanta: Chuck James, John Smoltz, Oscar Villarreal, Bob Wickman
Cincinnati: Bronson Arroyo, Todd Coffey, Brian Meadows*, Paul Wilson*
Colorado: Aaron Cook, Josh Fogg, Danny Graves*, Dave Veres*
LA Dodgers: Jason Schmidt, Chin-hui Tsao, Randy Wolf, Rudy Seanez*
Milwaukee: Chris Capuano, Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan, Matt Wise
Oakland: Dan Haren, Joe Kennedy, Jay Witasick, Erasmo Ramirez*
San Diego: Greg Maddux, Jake Peavy, David Wells, Shawn Estes*
Saint Louis: Chris Carpenter, Josh Kinney, Braden Looper, Kip Wells
Texas: Joaquin Benoit, Scott Feldman, Vicente Padilla, Jamey Wright*
Chicago Cubs: Jason Marquis, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano
Pittsburgh: Shawn Chacon, Salomon Torres, Kevin Gryboski*
San Francisco: Matt Morris, Russ Ortiz, Sun-Woo Kim*
Toronto: A.J. Burnett, John Thomson, Geremi Gonzalez*
Baltimore: Kris Benson, Chad Bradford
Cleveland: Paul Byrd, Jake Westbrook
Houston: Jason Jennings, Brian Moehler*
NY Yankees: Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Villone*
Washington: Brandon Claussen*, Jason Simontacchi*
Boston: Matt Clement
Detroit: Chad Durbin
Florida: Dontrelle Willis
LA Angels: Hector Carrasco
Philadelphia: Jon Lieber
Seattle: Miguel Batista
*- Non-roster invitees