Monday, May 07, 2007

even more stuff about relief pitching

As you may have read last week, this year's Cincinatti Reds are being led in the hitting batters category by Todd Coffey. Coffey has pitched exclusively as a reliever this season and has hit 4 batters. In case anyone was wondering, the record for hitting batters in a season without starting a game is 11, by Mitch Williams with the '86 Rangers.

Since 1988 (Biggio's first season), their have been 48 pitchers who at least tied for their team lead in hitting batters, but didn't start a single game. Of those, 3 hit Craig Biggio with a pitch during that season, but no one has done it since 1994. The last pitcher to accomplish that feat was Steve Reed of the Colorado Rockies who plunked Biggio on August 1, 1994 and tied with Armando Reynoso for the team lead with 6 hit batters that year. Reed went on to plunk Biggio 2 more times in his career, and Reynoso contributed 2 plunks in later years as well.
In 1993, Tim Scott tied with 3 other Padres for the team lead at 4 hit batters, but Scott was the only one of them who didn't start any games, and plunked Biggio that year (On May 21, 1993). In 1992, Scott Bankhead tied for the Reds lead with 5 other pitchers who plunked 3 batters each. Bankhead didn't start a game in '92, but he did plunk Biggio on September 8, 1992. With 4 HBPs already this season, Todd Coffey could easily break the Reds franchise record for most hit batters in a season with no starts, and at least on plunking of Craig Biggio. He just has to plunk Craig Biggio and not start any games this year. Not that he should do it on purpose, because as Alvin Dark once said, "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist.". (Which makes one wonder if the dramatic rise in plunk rates since the fall of the Soviet Union is a coincidence, but that's a post for a future date).

Since 1992, 2 pitchers have led the Reds in hitting batters in seasons in which they had no starts - Stan Belinda in 1997, and Scott Sullivan in 1998 through 2001. But neither of them ever plunked Biggio. But there will be 2 pitchers available in tonight's game who tied for their team lead in plunking batters in a season but did not start - Brad Lidge and Chad Qualls, who both hit 6 batters last year, tying them with Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez for the team lead.

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