plunks to watch, around the league
If you've taken a look at the league leaders in HBPs recently, you may have noticed Chase Utley at the top of the list. On Monday night he got hit for the 10th time this season, in just the 32nd game for the Phillies. Even with last night's unplunked performance, his plunks per game projects out to 49 for 162 games. If he can keep up this pace without breaking any bones, he could be threatening the single season record in September (51 by Hughie Jennings in 1896). Craig Biggio's quickest year to ten plunks was 2002, when he reached double figures on May 17th, in the Astros 41st game. Ron Hunt didn't reach 10 plunks until his 36th game in 1971 when he got hit 50 times. Don Baylor didn't reach 10 plunks until June in 1986, when he finished the season with 35.
Also, next down the list is Royals rookie Alex Gordon. He's already been hit 7 times this season, which gives him a great head start toward David Eckstein's American League Rookie record of 21, and perhaps even Tommy Tucker's all time rookie year record of 29. Obviously though, there's a long way to go in the season, and Gordon will probably have to start hitting the ball a little better to stay in the big leauges all season - even if he is showing great promise at getting hit. On the other hand, it's the Royals.
Further in interesting plunk related news around the league, Jose Guillen of the Mariners is one plunk away from becoming the 59th player ever with 100 career HBPs. He'll also be the 13th active player with 100 HBPs, which is most ever. There are another 11 active players with 85 or more HBPs, so by the end of the year it's possible that there could be 70 players who have reached the 100 plunk milestone, and 24 of them could still be active. From 1915 to 1999 there were never more than 4 active players in the league with over 100 HBPs, and there were 20 season in that span when nobody was over that mark.
This year is also the 3rd year ever in which 2 active players entered the season with over 200 career plunks (Biggio and Jason Kendall). And, 1907 hardly even counts because Hughie Jennings only played 1 game that year - he was managing the Tigers at the time, and occasionally used himself as a substitute or pinch hitter. On June 12th of this year, Kendall's A's will come to Houston to play Biggio's Astros, marking the first time two 200 plunk players have played in a game since 1899 when Tommy Tucker's Cleveland Spiders played Hughie Jennings' Brooklyn Superbas.