Tuesday, July 31, 2007

...and the home of the Braves

The Astros are back in action tonight, in Atlanta against the Braves and starting pitcher Chuck James. That's the same Chuck James who plunked Biggio on September 29th last year, at Turner Field. Since then though, James has only hit one batter, so maybe he's been waiting for Biggio to come back. The Braves have only contributed 8 of Biggio's 285 career HBPs, but the last 3 of them have all been at Turner Field. If James plunk Biggio today he'll join Greg Maddux as the only Braves pitchers to plunk Biggio twice.

Speaking of Greg Maddux, he plunked Biggio on July 31, 1993, so Chuck James could also put his name next to Maddux's on the list of pitchers who have hit Craig Biggio with a pitch on this date. Kaz Ishii also plunked Biggio on July 31, 2005.

Monday, July 30, 2007

final 57

The Astros are down to those critical 57 games of the season - the final 57 games of the season. Craig Biggio has been hit by 83 pitches during the Astros final 57 games of the last 19 seasons, which gives him an average of slightly over 4.4 plunks per season, in the final 57 games of those seasons. However, a 4 plunk average shouldn't fill fans with a sense of security that the all time HBP record will be his by the end of this season. Biggio has only been plunked 3 or more times in the final 57 Astros games of the season in 11 of the last 19 seasons. But - in 2000 he only played in 1 of the last 57 Astros games of the season, and in his 24 game appearances in the final 57 Astros games of 1988, Biggio didn't get hit at all. Also, in 1994 the final 57 games of the season started at game 59 due to a labor dispute, and the 1995 season started late so the final 57 games of that year started at game 88.

During the final 57 games of the last 19 Astros seasons, Craig Biggio has been plunked most often on Tuesdays, with 15 plunks. In 1997, he got hit 19 times in the final 57 Astros games of the season, but last year he was only hit twice. If he were to get hit 19 times in the next 57 games, he'd be able to end his career with 304 HBPs, which obviously would be a number that would make the BBWAA and the Baseball Hall of Fame waive the 5 year wait for induction.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

29 runs without benefit of a plunk?

The Astros had an interesting weekend - Saturday they won a pitchers duel between the pitcher with the most wins in the past 5 years (Roy Oswalt - 94-50 since 2002) and the pitcher with the most wins in the past 20 years (Greg Maddux - 338-207 since 1987). The Astros won that duel 3-1, but the bats of both teams took over on Sunday in an 18-11 Padres win. But more importantly, Craig Biggio didn't get hit by any pitches.

The Astros are off today, which will most likely mean Craig Biggio will not be hit by a pitch. Although, if he's going to become the first player in major league history to get hit by 288 pitches, why not become the first player in major league history to record an HBP on an off-day? The Astros will be visiting Atlanta starting tomorrow.

Mike LaCoss plunked Biggio on July 30, 1989, and Hector Carrasco hit him on July 30, 1996. Last year, Miguel Batista plunked Biggio on July 30th.

And, this is a clever piece of marketing.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

two more against Padres on HOF weekend

Jake Peavy missed Craig Biggio with all 6 pitches he threw him last night, but it only took him that many to get Biggio out 3 times. Biggio singled on a Cla Meredith pitch after Peavy left the game, but nobody hit Craig Biggio with a pitch, and the Astros lost 9-4.

This afternoon, Craig Biggio is expected to play, and he'll be facing Greg Maddux, which seems perfectly appropriate for a Saturday afternoon on the weekend when the Baseball Hall of Fame is celebrating induction weekend. Biggio has faced Maddux more times than any other pitcher - a total of 137 plate appearances so far, and if he could manage 2 hits of Maddux, he'd break the all time record for most hits off Greg Maddux. The current holder of that record will be giving his induction speech tomorrow - Tony Gwynn. As coveted as that record surely is, if Biggio could get hit by a pitch 3 times against Maddux, he'd break both the all time record for getting hit by pitches, AND the all time record for getting plunked by Greg Maddux (currently 4, by Andres Galarraga). Okay, that's not too likely - Biggio hasn't been plunked by Maddux in his last 81 plate appearances against the future Hall of Famer. Maddux last plunked Biggio on June 12, 1994 and on July 31, 1993. (Biggio does not even have the Astros record for being plunked by Greg Maddux - he hit Jeff Bagwell 3 times.) Maddux has a career total of 129 hit batters, including 4 this season even though he didn't hit anyone last year.

Biggio has been hit once before by the Padres on July 28 - in 1990 by Calvin Schiraldi. He was also plunked on July 18, 2001 by Jimmy Anderson.

On Sunday, Craig Biggio is expected to be out of the starting lineup, but he may see pinch-hitting duty. Chris Young is expected to start for the Padres, and he's hit 4 batters this season and 19 in his career. Biggio has never been hit by a pitch on July 29th.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Wells Shelled

The Astros jumped all over elderly Padre's starter David Wells last night, like something out of the Dr. Seuss horror novel "Hop on Pop", scoring 7 runs in just three innings against Wells, and winning 7-1. It was the first time since July 2nd the that Astros scored 7 runs, and the scoring featured Craig Biggio's 288th career homer.
That's a nice 288, but not the 288 we're hoping for. Despite the poor pitching early, the Padres were still careful enough not to throw Craig Biggio anything he could get hit by.

Tonight, the Astros face Padres starter Jake Peavy, who hit Craig Biggio with a pitch on August 31, 2003. Also, Jake Peavy's first name is Jake - the other three pitchers who have plunked Biggio this season are named Jorge, Josh and Joe. This could be the first time Biggio records 4 consecutive plunks against different pitchers with the same first initial. (Though he was plunked by Jorge Julio, Jamey Wright, and then 3 times by Jason Jennings in 2005).
Peavy has hit 38 batters in his career, including 5 this season. Peavy leads the Padres in plunkings, but the Padres are only 23rd in the league, having hit only 29 batters.

Biggio has been hit 4 times before on July 27th, but not since 1998 when Brian Meadows threw plunk 138. Prior to that, Biggio was hit in three consecutive years on July 27th - in 1992 by John Smoltz, 1993 by Tom Browning and 1994 by Tim Fortugno.

In other news, the 2007 Major League plunk leader, Chase Utley, was hit for the 17th time this season - and finished the game, even though post game x-rays showed his hand was broken. Even more interestingly, he did this one day after someone started a Plunk blog about him. This whole story just illustrates how amazing it is for Craig Biggio to get hit 285 times without one of them causing an injury that caused him to miss a game.

And more importantly, it just goes to show that if you're going to start a blog about people getting hit by pitches, you need to add a disclaimer to your site to make sure that people know you don't support or endorse intentionally hitting [insert name here] with pitches. I'm happy to see anyone taking an interest in chronicling their favorite player's personal HBP records, but be sure to add a disclaimer - to make sure young pitchers like John Lannan don't get the idea that hitting batters with pitches is "cool". (Utley, by the way, has a career high 17 plunks this season, and he'll need another 17 plunks every year from now until he's 42 years old to catch Biggio.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Astros 2, Dodgers 1

Craig Biggio moved another game closer to retirement last night, but didn't get any closer to the all-time plunk record. He was unplunked in 4 plate appearances, though he did get one more hit. And, the Astros took the game 2-1 in a duel of solo homeruns.

Tonight Biggio has another rare chance to get hit by a pitch thrown by a pitcher who's older than him, for the first time since April 24, 2004 when Steve Reed hit him. The San Diego Padres are in town, with 44 year old David Wells expected to pitch. He hit Craig Biggio with a pitch for the Yankees on June 12, 2003, and if he does it again he will break Orel Hershisers record and become the oldest pitcher ever to plunk Biggio. Wells has hit 83 batters in his career, including 3 this season.

On this date in plunk history, Biggio collected his 13th, 53rd, and 253rd career HBPs. Number 13 was thrown by Jim Bullinger on July 26, 1992. Number 53 was tossed by Armando Reynoso on July 26, 1995, and plunk 253 was contributed by Brandon Webb on July 26, 2004.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

1000 words

... give or take 100 depending on current exchange rates.

Below is a picture sent along by reader Rihar. It's his view from the stands of plunk number 284 on June 29th.

grand night

Craig Biggio did a lot of things yesterday, but one thing he didn't do was get hit by a pitch for the 286th time in his career. He did, however, hit his 4th career grand slam - the 287th homer of his career in the 6th inning to break open a tie game and lead the Astros to a 7-4 victory.

Biggio's other big moment yesterday was an afternoon press conference to officially announce his retirement following this season. His own message along with responses of a couple of hundred fans is over here. Biggio's announcement doesn't really come as a surprise, but it does bring new urgency and intrigue to those couple of things he has left to do on the major league baseball field. The Astros have 62 games left on the schedule, and while in most seasons that would be plenty of time for Craig Biggio to find 3 pitches to get hit by, it now seems like a very small number of games. 62 games - but with Biggio stepping to the plate without an arm-guard, and the Astros promising to give the kids more playing time and Biggio more rest. The Astros youth movement has been hampered by injuries which my force that playing time back in Biggio's direction, but the fact remains that this plunk chase just got a dumptruck full of suspense dumped on top of it.

Just 3 to go - it would seem like so little to ask if we didn't know that there have been 350 players in Major League history who had over 500 plate appearances and never got hit by 3 pitches in their whole career. Can the man who has already given so much to the Houston Astros give up his body 3 more times, or will he spend his remain games waving to crowds, and adding to those 3,016 hits, 287 homers, 661 doubles, and most importantly to him, 1451 Astros wins in games Biggio has played in.

But this site will be looking for those 3. 3 shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be 3. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Okay, 4 or 5 would be great too, but 3 is the magic number.

Tonight, the Astros will be facing Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe. Lowe spent the early part of his career hanging around a pitching staff featuring Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield, who have hit a combined 279 batters in their careers, but their influence hasn't rubbed off too much on Derek Lowe. Lowe has hit 53 batters in his career but only 11 since leaving Boston for the Dodgers, and only 1 this season.

Today is also the 10th anniversary of Biggio's 100th career plunk - thrown by Jeff Juden on July 25, 1997. Two years after that, he got plunked by Andy Ashby on July 25, 1999 for plunk number 151. Unfortunately, that means the Dodgers don't have anyone on their pitching staff who can plunk Biggio today because none of them have the same first and last initial. (Okay, we'll let them break the trend this one time - but maybe they could make a roster move?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

plunk +/-

As you may have noticed, the Astros lost last night, and they hit a batter, while the Dodgers did not. From 1988 to 2006 when the Astros hit more batters than there opponents, they had a record of 231-299 while when Astros batters get hit more than the other team, they are 431-272. That's a .436 win pct when the other team gets hit more and a .613 win pct when the Astros get hit more. League wide, from 1988 to 2006, the team that gets hit by more pitches wins 59.6% of games.

Below is the breakdown of the Astros wins and losses from 1988 to 2006, by plunk differential. As you can see, the Astros are undefeated when they get plunked at least 4 times more than there opponents. Also, Craig Biggio has been hit 143 times in games in which the Astros got hit 1 more times than their opponents.

HBP +/-Recordwin pctHBP:BGO

When Craig Biggio gets hit himself more times than the other team, the Astros are 106-81 (through 2006). But, the Astros were 285-338 in games in which Biggio has played but didn't get hit as many times as the other team. Also, through last season, Craig Biggio had been hit 179 times in games where he was plunked one more time than the other team.

HBP +/-Recordwin pctHBP:BGO
(through 2006)

In the 20 games in which Craig Biggio has been hit twice, the other team has never been plunked more than once.

less dodging please

Craig Biggio saw 15 pitches from the Dodgers last night, but didn't get hit by any of them, and didn't hit any of them safely. Dodgers' pitcher Chad Billingsley had another effective start moving to 7-0, and didn't allow any runs until the 9th inning as the Astros lost 10-2.

Mark Hendrickson will pitch for the Dodgers tonight, and he's never plunked Craig Biggio either. Hendrickson moved to the Dodgers last year after spending two seasons each with Tampa Bay and Toronto - two teams that have never plunked Biggio. The Dodgers haven't officially plunked Biggio since September 3, 2003, although Jeff Weaver did hit him on August 28, 2005 only to have umpire Doug Eddings refuse to award Biggio first base (claiming Biggio didn't make an effort to avoid the pitch).

Craig Biggio hasn't been plunked on July 24th since 1996 when Willie Blair threw plunk 75 for the Padres. Frank Castillo also plunked Biggio on July 24, 1993.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dodgers in Houston

Craig Biggio didn't add to his 285 career HBPs while in Pittsburgh over the weekend, but the Astros did take 2 out of 3 game against the Pirates, helping to keep themselves out of last place in the NL Central.

But, they'll be returning to Houston to play the Dodgers tonight which means more playing time for Craig Biggio and more chances for him to get hit by pitches. Chad Billingsley will get the first chance for the visitors, but he's only hit 4 batters ever. This will be Billingsley's first time pitching against Houston, so none of the 4 batters he's hit has been Craig Biggio.

Steve Cooke and Jamey Wright both plunked Biggio on July 23rd - Cooke did it in 1994 for plunk 33, and Wright threw number 212 in 2002.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Craig Biggio and the no-blood plunks

Craig Biggio had another plunk-free game last night, but the Astros managed to win anyway with the bullpen preserving Roy Oswalt's 2-1 win.

Biggio is not expected to start in the remaining two games against the Pirates, which may deny Pittsburgh starters Paul Maholm and John Van Benschoten the chance to hit him with a pitch for the first time in either of their careers. Both pitchers have hit 4 batters this year, and Maholm plunked 12 in 2006. Craig Biggio has never been plunked by a Van.

Craig Biggio has been plunked 3 times by pitchers named Mark on July 21st - twice in 1995 (Leiter) and once in 1998 (Brownson). He was marked by one more Mark on July 22, 1990 (Gardner). You could say this is a marked weekend for him. But I already did, so now you don't have to.

Biggio has been plunked 4 times on release weekends of Harry Potter books (including both US and British releases of "Prisoner of Azkaban"), but he hasn't been plunked on the release weekend of any of the past 3 books. Biggio has never been plunked by a pitcher named Potter, Voldemort, Dumbledore, Weasley, Granger, Snape, or Hagrid.

Friday, July 20, 2007

small numbers, a large number of times

Craig Biggio has only been hit by a pitch 3 times this season, which is a slow season compared to the rest of his career, but that does mean he's been hit by a pitch at least 3 times in 18 different season. That certainly isn't as impressive a feat as 285 career plunks, or his 6 seasons with over 20 HBPs, but if you look at the number of players who have done it as a measure of the difficulty of the accomplishment, 18 seasons with 3+ plunks is about as difficult as 4 seasons with 20 plunks - each have been done by only 7 players. The 7 players with 20+ plunks in 4 or more seasons is also the same 7 players with over 200 career plunks, but only Biggio has had 4 or more seasons with 20+ HBPs and 18 seasons with 3 or more plunks.

Players with 20 or more plunks in 4 or more seasons:
Player - seasons with 20 or more HBP
Hughie Jennings - 6
Craig Biggio - 6
Tommy Tucker - 6
Ron Hunt - 6
Don Baylor - 5
Jason Kendall - 5
Dan McGann - 4

Players with 3 or more plunks in 18 or more seasons:
player - seasons with 3 or more HBP
Pete Rose - 19
Craig Biggio - 18
Ricky Henderson - 18
Carlton Fisk - 18
Honus Wagner - 18
Frank Robinson - 18
Gary Sheffield - 18

It's a common misconception in baseball that racking up huge numbers in a short number of seasons is a more difficult accomplishment than putting up consistent numbers for a long stretch of seasons. Biggio is also 16 hits away from having 100 hits in 19 seasons. That doesn't jump out at the average fan the way, for example, 200 hits in 5 or more seasons does, but guess which one has been done more often. Coming into this year, 20 players have had 5 or more seasons with 200 or more hits, but Biggio will be the 17th to have 19 seasons over 100 hits. And it's not a pack of average players who "hung around a long time". Both lists are a great group of players, and like the HBPs, there isn't a lot of overlap on the two lists - only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb did both.

5 or more seasons over 200 hits:
Pete Rose - 10
Ty Cobb - 9
Paul Waner - 8
Lou Gehrig - 8
Willie Keeler - 8
Wade Boggs - 7
Charlie Gehringer - 7
Rogers Hornsby - 7
Ichiro Suzuki - 6
Steve Garvey - 6
Stan Musial - 6
Bill Terry - 6
Al Simmons - 6
Sam Rice - 6
George Sisler - 6
Jesse Burkett - 6
Derek Jeter - 5
Tony Gwynn - 5
Kirby Puckett - 5
Chuck Klein - 5

19+ seasons over 100 hits:
Pete Rose (23)
Carl Yastrzemski (22)
Ty Cobb (22)
Hank Aaron (21)
Cap Anson (21)
Eddie Murray (20)
George Brett (20)
Cal Ripken (19)
Ricky Henderson (19)
Paul Molitor (19)
Dave Winfield (19)
Robin Yount (19)
Willie Mays (19)
Tris Speaker (19)
Honus Wagner (19)
Nap Lajoie (19)

Interestingly, the 200 plunk club lines up with the group who got hit 20+ times in 4 or more seasons, but the 3000 hit club matches up better with the group that has 100+ hits in 19 seasons - all 16 of them (17 when Biggio joins). Only 6 of the 20 players with 200 hits in 5 seasons got to 3000 (though Jeter and Ichiro still could).

At the moment, 18 players have hit 40 home runs in 5 different seasons, but only 15 have hit 10 or more in 19 seasons. Guess which group is more likely to grow in the near future? To make it a little more symmetrical, 11 players have had 10 or more hits in 20 seasons - so 8 less than the group with 4 times as many homers in 1/4 as many seasons. Craig Biggio didn't make any of those clubs, but he is just the 21st player with at least 3 homers in 20 different seasons. (It's not nearly as impressive a group - only 14 hall of famers, though 4 haven't been voted on yet)

Friday in Pittsburgh

The Astros are back in action in Pittsburgh tonight, where the Pirates are 10th in the majors in hitting batters, and Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to start. Gorzelanny has never plunked Biggio, but he has hit 9 batters, including Brad Ausmus and Chris Burke. Ausmus also has 4 hits of Gorzelanny, which ranks third on the all time list of career hits against Tom Gorzelanny. Adam Everett is 2nd with 5 hits off Gorzelanny. If Tom Gorzelanny plunks Biggio tonight, he will be the first pitch with both a Y and a Z in his last name to do so. He'd also be the first Pirate to plunk Biggio since May 6, 2004.

Biggio collected his 50th career HBPs on July 20, 1995, against Jose Bautista of the Giants.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Day off, then... Pirates

Craig Biggio once again hit a sacrifice fly in his only plate appearance of yesterday's 7-6 loss. If he can keep up this one-sacrifice-fly-per-game pace, he can break the single season record in 17 games, and the all time record in 51 games. Get your tickets now for September 13th if you want to see that record go down!

Okay, maybe he's not going to be breaking the all time sacrifice fly record, and the Astros are off today, so he'll make this his 20th consecutive season of not being plunked on July 19th. But Biggio has only been plunked 6 times in games in which he also hit a sacrifice fly, and he only gets hit by a pitch once per 60 plate appearances in games in which he hits a sac fly. So, he generally doesn't sacrifice both fly balls and his body in the same game, so lets focus on the one where he's 3 away from breaking the all time record.

Tomorrow, the Astros move on to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates.

Over on astrocast.net, they were joined this week by that nut who writes that Plunk Biggio website. I hear that guy can't string two sentences together without mentioning an HBP stat, so that ought to be funny.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Prime Target

It's often said that the casual fan can't truly pick out the details of the game of baseball that statistics show us. The difference between a .280 batter and a .320 batter is only 1 or 2 hits a week. Similarly, Craig Biggio gets hit by a pitch once every 43.5 plate appearances on prime numbers days of the month, but he gets hit once every 43 plate appearances on non-prime days. Leaguewide, for the 1988 through 2006 seasons, batters were hit once per 126 plate appearances on prime numbered days and once per 125 plate appearances the rest of the time. That's just the sort of thing you'd never notice, even if you were diligently keep score every time you go to the ballpark.

More importantly, Biggio gets hit by pitches once per 45.4 plate appearances on prime numbered days in prime numbered months compared with once per 43.9 plate appearances the rest of the time, but the league wide splits are identical whether or not the date has a prime number for both the day and month. But, very strangely, when the date is a prime numbered day in a prime numbered month in a primed numbered year, Biggio get's hit once per 36.7 plate appearances, compared to once per 43.4 plate appearances the rest of the time.

In all, Biggio has been plunked 97 times on prime numbered days, 109 time in prime numbered months and 82 times in prime numbered years. He's been hit 35 times on prime numbered days in prime numbered months, and 29 times on prime numbered days in prime numbered years. He's been hit 25 times in prime numbered months that happened to be in prime numbered years, and 10 of those times were on prime numbered days ( in prime months in prime years). The most recent such date of an HBP:BGO was July 5, 2003.

Craig Biggio's 82 plunks in prime numbered years is 14 more than any other player in history has had in prime years. Jason Kendall is 2nd with 68. As math would have it, there have been 5 prime years in the last 20, more than any 20 year span in baseball history. Biggio is 4th all time in career hits in prime numbered years, behind Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Rafael Palmeiro - and tied with BJ Surhoff (yes, BJ Surhoff). He's also 1st in doubles in prime numbered years, and 2nd in runs (behind Bonds).

Biggio has recorded all 285 of his HBPs wearing the uniform number 7, which is a prime number, but he did wear number 4 in 1988. But, he's been hit 70 times by pitchers wearing 14 different prime numbers. He's been plunked by a pitcher wearing every prime number from 17 to 71. 3 pitchers wearing prime uniform numbers have plunked Biggio on a prime numbered days in prime numbered months in prime numbered years.

The July 5, 2003 plunk mentioned above was thrown by Jeff Suppan, who was wearing prime number 37. It was Biggio's 229th career HBP (also prime) as well Suppan's 41st career hit batter (prime again). And, he did it in the 7th inning.

Once again, there was probably a point to all this. But there won't be another opportunity for anyone to get hit by a on a prime numbered day in a prime numbered month in a prime numbered year until May 2, 2011.

just another sac fly in DC

Craig Biggio was out of the starting lineup last night, but he did contribute an 8th inning sacrifice fly, driving in an insurance run in the Astros 4-2 win. But - it's Carlos Lee that's supposed to be chasing a sac-fly record, and Biggio's supposed to be chasing the all time HBP record. Lee is still 7 sac flies away from breaking the single season record, and Biggio is 3 plunks away from breaking the all time HBP record.

Today may well be Craig Biggio's last chance to get hit by a pitch at RFK Stadium, but reports suggest he may be starting the game on the bench once again - to the disappointment all the Craig Biggio fans in the Nation's capital. Jason Bergmann is schedule to start, but he'd never plunked Biggio and hasn't hit a batter yet this season. He did hit Brad Ausmus once though.

Craig Biggio has been hit by three pitches on July 18th - in 1989 by Sid Fernandez, and twice in 2001, by Mike Matthews and Andy Benes.

That Andy Benes plunk might be the one mentioned in Greg Garber's excellent article on Biggio and the HBP record, currently on espn.com, but Benes did hit him one other time in 2001. Tim Marchman of the New York Sun also has an article about the plunk record which throws in some nice perspective on Hughie Jennings. By some strange coincidence, this space posted a link to a Tim Marchman article last year- while the Astros were playing the Nationals, at RFK. Last year, he seemed to be arguing that milestones were overblown and I said "Maybe he'll feel better if someone breaks an all time record sometime soon".

Anyway, thanks again to Greg Garber for taking the time to speak with me about the HBP record, and my attempts to set a record for most blog posts about a single statistic. It's even more remarkable that Garber took that time to speak with me when he probably he could have been interviewing Maria Sharapova.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

plunk imbalance in the US Senate

As currently composed, the United States Senate has hit 160 batters, but only been hit by a pitch once. This plunk imbalance is caused entirely by the junior Senator from Kentucky, Hall of Famer Jim Bunning. Bunning plunked 160 batters in his career, and he was hit by a pitch 4 times less than he hit Ron Hunt. Only Bob Gibson contributed more to Ron Hunt's 243 plunk career total. Bunning led the league in hitting batters 4 times, and is somewhere between 8th and 12th on the all time list, depending on which party's list you're looking at. He hit 6 more batters than Roger Clemens has, in 180 fewer games.

On the surface, a major plunk imbalance in the Senate doesn't seem like a big deal - until you start to wonder why there is still no national holiday to honor baseball players who have been hit by a lot of pitches.

Bunning's 160 plunks were thrown in a time before Craig Biggio made getting hit by pitches so wildly popular in the league. But even so, Bunning is still 21 plunks ahead of anyone who has hit Craig Biggio with a pitch. During the 17 years Bunning played, from 1955 to 1971, he threw 1.4% of all major league HBPs. Put another way, that means Bunning was responsible for 1 of every 70 hit batters during his career. Among the pitchers who have plunked Biggio, Rolando Arrojo is the closest to that mark, and he threw just one out of every 125 plunks during the years he played. During the 1966 season, Jim Bunning hit one batter for every 35 batters plunked by someone else. During Biggio's best season - 1997 - he was plunked about once for every 42 times anyone else in the league was plunked.

Obviously this plunk imbalance in the Senate should be cause for concern for fans of great get-hitters. And while electing Craig Biggio to the Senate would be the most obvious solution, it may not be necessary just yet. For now, we can just monitor the problem and see if it gets any worse... or if various anti-batter legislation starts coming up for debate, like a ban on all protective gear for batters, tax breaks for brush-back pitchers, or a law making a violation of rule 6.08(b)(2) a federal crime. It may not yet be time for action on this issue - but responsible voters should at least check their candidate's career HBP stats before heading to the voting booth.

still no DC HBPs for BGO

The Astros came up just short in DC last night, losing 4-3, so it sure would have helped if the Nationals had cooperated a little and threw Craig Biggio something he could get hit by. Instead, he settled for one infield hit, on what was probably a payback call from the umpiring gods (making up for the non-catch ruled a catch on Saturday).

Tonight, former Astro Tim Redding faces his old team for the first time. He's hit 18 batters in 447.1 career innings. Redding has hit 5 batters in the 5th inning, making that his favorite inning to plunk in, but he's never hit a batter in the 1st inning. He's hit 4 batters on 1-1 counts.

Bob Tewksbury, Willie Banks and Kirk Rueter have all plunked Biggio on July 17th. Tewksbury in 1993, Banks in 1995, and Rueter in 1998.

Monday, July 16, 2007

last meetings

Tonight's starter for the Washington Nationals is Mike Bacsik, who has never before pitched to Craig Biggio. That means he could become the 39th pitcher to plunk Biggio in their first plate appearnace against each other, or the 9th pitcher to plunk Biggio on the first pitch he ever threw at him.

But, if he plunks Biggio in their final meeting tonight, he could leave the game as one of the 32 pitchers who can say they plunked Biggio with the last pitch they threw him. Obviously this list can change when pitchers face Biggio again, but at the moment, 31 pitchers plunked Biggio in there last meeting.

Andy Benes holds the record for facing Biggio the most times, and plunking him in their final meeting - that was Biggio's 101st plate appearance against Benes. Tim Fortugno, John Hope, Erasmo Ramirez, Willis Roberts, and Joe Smith all plunked Biggio the 1st and only time they faced him, so Mike Bacsik could join that club too if he has a bad start (or plunks Biggio right out of the game, which just doesn't happen, and is not encouraged). If Bacsik really feels ambitious, he could become the third player to plunk Biggio the first and last time they ever met, but also plunked him more than once. Jorge Julio and Chad Durbin are the other members of that club. Biggio has faced them both three times and got hit during his first and third plate appearance against each of them. However, he got both his plunks from Durbin in the same game, while Julio took three games to do it.

Here's the full list of pitchers who plunked Biggio the last time they faced him:

Pitcher - Plate appearances
Rick Ankiel - 12
Andy Benes - 101
Rocky Biddle - 2
Brian Bohanon - 21
Steve Bourgeois - 2
Ryan Bowen - 7
Jeff Brantley - 29
Chris Brock - 8
Jose DeLeon - 34
Chad Durbin - 3
Paul Fletcher - 2
Tim Fortugno - 1
Kenny Greer - 2
Xavier Hernandez - 5
Orel Hershiser - 66
John Hope - 1
Kazuhisa Ishii - 8
Jorge Julio - 3
Barry Manuel - 3
Alan Mills - 4
Trey Moore - 5
Russ Ortiz - 32
Yorkis Perez - 2
Erasmo Ramirez - 1
Willis Roberts - 1
Joe Smith - 1
Stan Spencer - 3
Everett Stull - 4
Anthony Telford - 12
Chin-hui Tsao - 3
Jake Westbrook - 3

Sunday, July 15, 2007

on to DC

The Astros did not fare well during their weekend in Chicago, and Craig Biggio came to the plate only twice on Saturday and Sunday. He went 0-2 in his two pinch hit appearances, though he was robbed of a hit on Saturday. If you'd wondered why Biggio started two straight games on the bench, it's obviously because the Astros are limiting his playing time on the road so they can be sure he'll break the all-time HBP record during a home game.

Tonight, the Astros move on to our nation's capital where they'll be facing the Washington Nationals. The Nationals, according to rumors, have been lobbying the government to eliminate most of the baseball season and have the World Series decided each year by which team can collect the most campaign contributions during spring training. But until they do, they'll just have to settle for trying to hit Craig Biggio with pitches. Mike Bacsik pitches for the Nationals, and he's hit Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Tom Lampkin, Jason Larue, Adam Lind, Julio Lugo, Tino Martinez, Pablo Ozuna, and Barry Bonds (so he's got that going for him). Six of those batters were left-handed, and Bacsik himself throws left-handed himself, so he could become the 49th left-handed pitcher ever to plunk Craig Biggio.

Craig Biggio has never been hit by a pitch on July 16th.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

looking for 286 at Wrigley

Craig Biggio didn't get hit by a pitch yesterday, and the Astros offense looked like it might still be on the all-star break, losing 6-0. But the Cubs will have many more chances to plunk Biggio today or tomorrow.

Today Ted Lilly throws at the Astros, looking to become the 214th pitcher to plunk Biggio. Lilly has hit 34 batters 37 times in all, but he's never plunked Craig Biggio. Biggio has never been plunked on the 14th of July, but Ted Lilly has hit one batter on this date.

Tomorrow, the Cubs will start Jason Marquis, who plunked Biggio on May 29th last season. Marquis has plunked the Astros 5 times, which ties them with Florida for the lead in most times hit by a Jason Marquis pitch. Biggio has been hit three times on July 15th - in 1995 by Kenny Greer, in 2001 by Jake Westbrook, and in 2002 by Ron Villone.

Friday, July 13, 2007

back from the break - really

The Astros finally get back to work at Wrigley Field in Chicago this afternoon, and they'll be facing Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano plunked Biggio at Wrigley Field on May 31, 2003 and August 12, 2003. There are only two road parks where Biggio has been plunked more than the 12 times he's been hit at Wrigley (beer themed parks Coors and old Busch). Also, Craig Biggio gets hit about once every 35 plate appearances in day games.

On the other hand, today is Friday the 13th, and Craig Biggio has only been hit by pitchers named Jason on Friday the 13th. The Cubs only Jason, unless they make a roster move, is scheduled to start on Sunday. And, the Cubs haven't plunked Biggio since June 1, 2004.

Craig Biggio has also never been plunked on July 13th.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

batting stats by season plunk totals

In the interest of helping to advance the theory posted by this anonymous commenter yesterday, below are the cumulative batting stats for all major league players since they started counting HBPs, grouped by season plunk totals. As you can see below, their have been 15 times when a player has had more than 30 HBPs, and those batters combined for a .310 average and a .412 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, combined batting average for the 50,419 seasons in which a player didn't get hit at all is a mere .235.

Hughie Jennings batted .401 the year he got hit 51 times, and Craig Biggio batted .309 during his 34 plunk season. Don Baylor had 35 plunks in 1986 while only batting .238, but he did have 31 homers. In Jennings 51 plunk year, he racked up a .472 OBP despite only walking 19 times. Of the 15 times a batter has been plunked over 30 times in a season, that batter has hit better than .300 in 8 of those seasons.

In general, people who get hit by a lot of pitches appear to have much better batting averages, slugging percentages, and on-base pcts then people who don't get hit. (Of course OBP includes HBPs in the calculation, so that will always go up with more plunks).

Season HBP
total AB
over 30157,8080.3100.4120.4300.842
21 to 306131,1710.2880.3790.4230.801
11 to 20740362,0450.2830.3670.4310.797
6 to 1033171,544,0580.2790.3530.4210.774
1 to 5251147,703,2210.2680.3350.3930.728

This might look a little different if a minimum at-bats filter were applied.

baseball returns from - hey... an off day?

Just when you think they're back from the all-star break, the Astros have an off-day. Just when Craig Biggio moves to within 2 plunks of tying Hughie Jennings all time record, the Astros give him Sunday off, then the league takes 3 more days for a so-called All-Star break that doesn't even include the most prolific hitter and get hitter of the past 20 years, and then the schedule makers leave another day off. Following an HBP chase requires patience, but it helps if there's at least a baseball game being played. This is much to long a break to wait for the plunk chase to resume, yet not long enough to really get a good jump on another project, like coming up with a campaign slogan for Cletus J "Bubba" Huckabee Jr's run for Chesterfield County Sanitation Commissioner. (I'm thinking "Ask not what your County can do for you..." - but leave the "..." open to interpretation).

Well, since we're waiting and looking forward, here's a few other milestones to look forward to:

3021 hits - 8 hits away - this would give Biggio the post-1983 hitting record, passing Rafael Palmeiro for the most hits since 1984.

3300 hits + hbps - just 2 hbps or hits away. Biggio would be the 12th player to reach base on a clean hit or a hit-by-pitch 3300 times.

664 doubles - this would give Biggio the post-1973 doubles record.

666 doubles - many people have pointed this out, including that he may reach that milestone against the Padres, but it would move Biggio to 4th all time on doubles list.

286 plunks - this would break the post-1891 HBP record, passing the current mark of 285 held by some guy named Craig Biggio.

Kip Wells plunked Biggio on July 12, 2003. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, but the Astros don't appear to be facing anyone named Jason.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

last day of the break

Nobody got plunked in the all-star game yesterday, and there isn't any baseball today - not even anything baseball-like, except maybe in the minor leagues, so quit hanging around the internet and go read a book or something.

Lance Painter plunked Biggio on July 11, 1998.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

2007 all star game

Tonight's all-star game is the first ever in which the starter for both teams has hit Craig Biggio with a pitch. Jake Peavy and Dan Haren both plunked Biggio in the 2003 season. Biggio plunkers David Wells and Greg Maddux started against each other in the 1998 All-Star game, but Wells didn't plunk Biggio until 2003.

12 pitchers have plunked Biggio the same year they made the all-star team, but only 6 of them did it before the all-star break. Dontrelle Willis and Chris Carpenter were the last all-stars to plunk Biggio, both in 2005. Biggio was plunked by 3 different all-stars in 1997, and was hit by two all-stars in 1999 and 2000. Kevin Brown is the only pitcher who plunked Biggio in two different years in which he also made the all-star team.

Biggio has never been plunked on July 10th, but he did get hit in the 1998 all-star game. For a complete history of all-star plunks, check here. No one has taken one for their league in the past two all-star contests.

Monday, July 09, 2007

1st pitch/1st matchup plunks

On Saturday, Joe Smith plunked Biggio with the first pitch he ever threw at him, prompting an anonymous commenter to ask how many times that had happened. Joe Smith was the 8th pitcher to plunk Biggio on one pitch in the first time they ever pitched to him. Tim Birtsas did exactly that on Biggio's first career HBP, and that one was in extra innings as well.
Biggio was also plunked on the first pitch the first time he faced Danny Darwin, Mike Trombley, Brian Meadows, Chad Bradford, Chuck James, and tomorrow's AL all-star starter Dan Haren. (Biggio didn't get plunked until his 8th plate appearance against NL starter Jake Peavy).

In all, Biggio has been hit by a pitch 38 times in his first career plate appearance against a pitcher. The 8 pitchers listed above needed only one pitch to join the Biggio plunkers club, but 10 more got him on the 2nd pitch of their first matchup. Biggio got hit on the 3rd pitch of his first plate appearance against 8 pitchers and on the 4th pitch by 5 pitchers. 4 more pitchers needed 5 pitches to plunk Biggio in their first matchup, and 3 more hit him on the 6th pitch.

Of the 38 pitchers who plunked Biggio the first time they ever faced him, 7 hit him again at least once, and three of them plunked Biggio 3 times. Chad Durbin and Jorge Julio were the quickest to plunk him again - both plunked Biggio a second time in their third matchup, though Durbin did it in the same game, and Julio waited 2 years. Shawn Estes and Shawn Chacon both plunked Biggio in Biggio's 1st and 6th plate appearance against them.

In 1996, 1998, 2001, and 2003, Biggio was plunked in his first career plate appearance against 6 different pitchers, and Cincinnati holds the record having had 4 pitchers plunk Biggio on the first try (though only 1 did it on the first pitch). The 8 pitchers who did it on the first pitch have been from 8 different teams. 6 right handers and two lefties have hit him on the first pitch, and 29 righties and 9 left handers have hit him in their first matchup.

break, day 2

The Astros picked up another win against the visiting Mets yesterday, but Craig Biggio didn't get a plate appearance in the game, giving him a head start on the All-Star Break.

The home-run derby is tonight's only baseball action, but it's not very interesting since the the scoring system for that event does not include HBPs. MLB still refuses to include a hit-by-pitch contest in the all-star festivities, but it might just be that they can't find enough qualified judges. Anybody can judge something like the NBA slam-dunk contest, but it really takes a true plunk-artist to appreciate the skill and artistry of a well executed 540-reverse plunk. I assume they're waiting for Biggio to retire and take the role of head judge.

Jay Witasick plunked Biggio on July 9, 1999.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Joe Smith, in the 12th inning, with a baseball.

Biggio didn't score after the plunk, and the Astros lost 5-3 in 17 innings, but Biggio has 285 career plunks.

Smith is now the 7th pitcher to plunk Biggio in extra innings, and the 4th extra inning plunked with a 3 letter first name - the other three were all named Tim. The average length of first names of pitchers who have plunked Biggio in extra innings is 3.6 letters.

Plunk 285 was Biggio's first extra-innings plunk at Minute Maid Park. He had only one previous extra-innings HBP at home, and that was in 1993.

Joe Smith was the 213th pitcher to plunk Biggio, but the first with the last name Smith - even though more people named Smith have pitched in the Major Leagues than any other last name. Through last season, 64 Smiths had pitched in the Majors, but none plunked Biggio until last night. That leaves Johnson as the last name with the most pitchers in major league history, but without one who plunked Biggio.

Smith is also the first pitcher born in 1984 to hit Craig Biggio with a pitch, and set a new record among the pitchers who have plunked Biggio by being 18.27 years younger than Biggio. Scott Feldman was previously the youngest member of the 213 member club - he was born in '83, which makes him a little over 17 years younger than Biggio. Biggio was never plunked by anyone more than 12.5 years older than him.

Smith is the 17th 23 year-old to plunk Biggio.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

last two before the break

The Astros have taken 1 out of 2 against the Mets so far, but Craig Biggio hasn't gotten hit by any pitches. But, Biggio collected enough hits to move past Wade Boggs on the all time list, and he's 8 away from Rafael Palmeiro.

Today the Mets give the ball to Tom Glavine, who is the career leader in not hitting Craig Biggio with pitches. Glavine has faced Biggio 113 times and not hit him with a pitch, which is 35 more plate appearances than Biggio has had against any other pitcher who hasn't hit him. (Curt Schilling is next on the list).

Jay Witasick plunked Biggio on July 7th, 2004.

Tomorrow Jason Vargas is scheduled to pitch for the visitors. Vargas hasn't hit anybody with a pitch this season but he hit 8 batters in his previous 2 seasons for the Marlins.
Josh Kinney plunked Biggio on July 8th last year, and Chad Durbin hit him twice on July 8, 2001.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

meet the Mets

The Astros lost yesterday's game by an 8-3 score, and Craig Biggio struck out rather than get hit by a pitch in his only at-bat of the game. Once again, the Astros left Biggio out of the starting lineup in a day game, even though they must know he gets hit by pitches 36% more often per plate appearance in day games, and that the Astros win more often when Biggio gets hit by a pitch.

Today the Mets visit Houston, and John Maine will pitch. Maine has never hit Craig Biggio with a pitch, nor has any other US State. Portugal did once. But John Maine never has either. John Maine hasn't hit anyone this year, and has only struck 3 batters with his 3,992 career pitches. He should reach 4,000 pitches tonight, unless something goes wrong very quickly.
Biggio has been plunked twice on July 5th - by Robert Ellis in 2001 and by Jeff Suppan in 2003.

Tomorrow, Mike Pelfrey is expected to start for the Mets. He's never hit Craig Biggio with a pitch either, but the two haven't faced each other in a game yet. Pelfery has hit 4 batters in seven starts this year, but Biggio has never been hit by a pitch on July 6th.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independance Day

The Astros won again last night, but needed 13 innings to do it. Craig Biggio did not get hit by any of the 21 pitches was thrown, but he did score the game tying run in the bottom of the 9th, and added another two hits to his collection. That brings him to 3,009, one short of Wade Boggs on the all time list. Mark Loretta got hit by pitch, but he still needs 220 plunks to pass Hughie Jennings.

Today, the Astros face Phillies starter Cole Hamels. Hamels has never plunked Biggio, and he has only hit 6 batters in his 40 game career.

Biggio's third career plunk was thrown on July 4th, 1989 by Bob Ojeda, and he was also hit twice on July 4, 1998 by Brian Anderson.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

HBP records by debut age

Yesterday we took a look at how reaching high numbers in career statistics is greatly helped by starting your baseball career at a relatively young age. Today, let's take a look at who holds the all time records in a hand full of offensive stats for each debut age. In the hit-by-pitch category, for example, Craig Biggio might have the all time record by now if he'd reached the majors before age 22, but Hughie Jennings made his major league debut at age 22 as well. David Eckstein would have a much better shot at making a run at this record if he'd made it to the majors before age 26, but as it is, he'd been plunked more times than any other player who joined the big leagues at age 26 or later.

Craig Biggio has recorded more doubles and runs scored than any other Major League player who didn't make the league before are 22. He'll have played more games than anyone who started that late as soon as he gets 9 more - Honus Wagner has played 8 more games than Biggio, and Wagner didn't debut in the league until he was 23. Biggio would also have to catch Honus in career hits to break the record in that category for people who made the majors at age 22 or later, but that's not likely unless the Astros are willing to keep Biggio around for a few more years.

HBP records by debut age:
(through 2006)
Debut AgePlayerHBPs
14Fred Chapman0
15Joe Nuxhall4
16Piggy Ward23
17Eddie Yost99
18John McGraw134
19Nellie Fox142
20Frank Robinson198
21Don Baylor267
22Hughie Jennings287
23Tommy Tucker272
24Andres Galarraga178
25Dan McGann230
26David Eckstein104
27John Titus94
28Jackie Robinson72
29George Watkins
Jimmy Austin
30Charlie Babb45
31Fred Odwell24
32Sam Jethroe25
33Johnny Butler14
34Luke Easter28
35Earle Brucker1
36Tex Vache7
37Bob Thurman5
38Bill McGhee1
39Quincy Trouppe
Les Willis
Alex McColl
40Chuck Hostetler0
41Diomedes Olivo0
42Satchel Paige0

Runs Scored records by debut age:
(through 2006, except for Biggio)
Debut AgePlayerRuns
14Fred Chapman0
15Billy Geer128
16Piggy Ward172
17Mel Ott1859
18Ty Cobb2246
19Babe Ruth2174
20Rickey Henderson2295
21Pete Rose2165
22Craig Biggio1824
23Honus Wagner1736
24Kenny Lofton1442
25Sam Rice1514
26Earl Averill1224
27Bob Johnson1239
28Jackie Robinson947
29Jimmy Austin661
30Monte Irvin366
31Bob Boyd253
32Sam Jethroe280
33Johnny Butler115
34Luke Easter256
35Dickey Pearce217
36Harry Wright183
37Bob Thurman106
38Bill McGhee51
39Alex McColl4
40Chuck Hostetler45
41Diomedes Olivo0
42Satchel Paige2

Games Played records by debut age:
(through 2006, except for Biggio)
Debut AgePlayerGames
14Fred Chapman1
15Joe Nuxhall555
16Tommy Brown494
17Mel Ott2730
18Ty Cobb3035
19Rusty Staub2951
20Hank Aaron3298
21Pete Rose3562
22Craig Biggio2784
23Honus Wagner2792
24Steve Finley2540
25Sam Rice2404
26Jake Daubert2014
27Bob Johnson1863
28Sparky Adams1424
29Jimmy Austin1580
30Al Todd863
31George Crowe702
32So Taguchi448
33Johnny Butler375
34Luke Easter491
35Dickey Pearce291
36Harry Wright180
37Bob Thurman334
38Bill McGhee170
39Alex McColl46
40Chuck Hostetler132
41Diomedes Olivo85
42Satchel Paige179

Doubles records by debut age:
(through 2006, except for Biggio)
Debut AgePlayerDoubles
14Fred Chapman0
15Billy Geer36
16Tommy Brown39
17Mel Ott488
18Ty Cobb724
19Tris Speaker792
20Stan Musial725
21Pete Rose746
22Craig Biggio660
23Honus Wagner640
24Edgar Martinez514
25Sam Rice498
26Earl Averill401
27Bob Johnson396
28Jackie Robinson273
29George Watkins192
30Al Todd119
31Don Johnson89
32Sam Jethroe80
33Johnny Butler48
34Luke Easter54
35Earle Brucker53
36Harry Wright24
37Bob Thurman18
38Bill McGhee18
39Alex McColl2
40Chuck Hostetler12
41Diomedes Olivo1
42Satchel Paige0

Career Hits Records by debut age:
(through 2006)
Debut AgePlayerHits
14Fred Chapman0
15Billy Geer191
16Tommy Brown309
17Mel Ott2876
18Ty Cobb4189
19Tris Speaker3514
20Hank Aaron3771
21Pete Rose4256
22Paul Waner3152
23Honus Wagner3415
24Doc Cramer2705
25Sam Rice2987
26Jake Daubert2326
27Bob Johnson2051
28Sparky Adams1588
29Jimmy Austin1328
30Al Todd768
31Bob Boyd567
32Sam Jethroe460
33Johnny Butler315
34Luke Easter472
35Dickey Pearce334
36Harry Wright222
37Bob Thurman163
38Bill McGhee146
39Alex McColl5
40Chuck Hostetler86
41Diomedes Olivo3
42Satchel Paige12

Home Run records by debut age:
(through 2006)
Debut AgePlayerHomers
14Fred Chapman0
15Joe Nuxhall15
16Tommy Brown31
17Harmon Killebrew573
18Alex Rodriguez464
19Babe Ruth714
20Hank Aaron755
21Barry Bonds734
22Mark McGwire583
23Mike Piazza419
24Andres Galarraga399
25Gus Zernial237
26Roy Campanella242
27Bob Johnson288
28Jackie Robinson137
29Jim Rivera83
30Monte Irvin99
31George Crowe81
32Sam Jethroe49
33Chris Coste7
34Luke Easter93
35Earle Brucker12
36Harry Wright4
37Bob Thurman35
38Bill McGhee1
39Alex McColl
Quincy Trouppe
Les Willis
40Chuck Hostetler0
41Diomedes Olivo0
42Satchel Paige0


1000 extra-base hits

Craig Biggio missed an opportunity, with Jamie Moyer on the mound last night, to be hit by a pitch thrown by a pitcher older than himself for the first time since April 24, 2004. But, he did record his 1000th career extra-base hit with his leadoff double in the 1st inning, and that made Moyer the 390th pitcher to give up a double to Craig Biggio. He ended the night with 3 hits, bringing his total to 3007, which ties him with Al Kaline on the all time list. He's 3 hits behind Wade Boggs on the hits list. The 1000 extra-base hits club now has 27, and Biggio is the 13th player in history with 3000 hits and 1000 extra-base hits.

Mike Lamb got hit by a pitch, but he's still 270 plunks behind Hughie Jennings' all time record. And, the Astros won, 7-5.

Tonight is Adam Eaton's turn in the Phillies pitching rotation. He's never hit Craig Biggio with a pitch before, but this year he's tied for the team lead in hit batters with 6. Eaton has hit 41 batters in his career.

Craig Biggio has never been hit by a pitch on July 3rd, but before last year, he had never been hit on July 2nd. There's a first time for everything, and a 3,007th time for some things.

Monday, July 02, 2007

debut ages

It's a common misconception among baseball fans that the way to get into the exclusive statistical clubs (3000 hits, 300 wins, 135 HBPs, 500 homers, etc) is to hang around the game for a long time. That obviously helps, but the first requirement is to get into the game early. Being very very good helps too, but for now, let's look at getting into the league early. Craig Biggio's entrance to the 3000 hit club made him the 4th oldest member by age at debut date, having joined the league at about 22.5 years old. Only two 3000 hit club members reached the majors after their 23rd birthday and none were as old as 24. The average age of those 27 players, as of the day they first played in the majors, is 21. The 500 homer club started even younger with an average debut age of 20.5. All 21 players in that group joined the majors before age 23. The 135 HBP club - being more of a refined art, and a thinking-man's stat - has a slightly older average debut age of 22.3 years among its 25 members, and there are 4 members of that crew who joined the league after turning 24. Dan McGann was the oldest at his debut, at slightly over 25 years.

Among the exclusive clubs on the pitching side, the 22 members of the 300 win club have an average debut age of 21.9 years, but there are 4 of them who joined the league after turning 25. The 28 pitchers with over 2500 strikeouts also averaged 21.9 years of age when the reached the majors, but only 3 of them failed to make it into the league before turning 24. The 26 pitchers who have hit 125 batters or more averaged 22 years old at their debut, but 4 of them started after turning 25, and Joe McGinnity hit 179 batters after not joining the league until he was 28.

All that goes to show, that if you're a baseball player and you haven't reached the majors by age 24, your chances of reaching one of those major baseball milestones are very small. But, you still might be able to hit Craig Biggio with a pitch. The average pitcher who has plunked Biggio reached the majors at 23.7 years old, and 39% of them turned 24 before joining the league. There are even three players who didn't join the Major Leagues until after they turned 30, but still managed to hit Biggio with a pitch. Steve Shrenk was 30 years and 7 months old when he entered the league on July 3, 1999, and he plunked Biggio on September 13, 1999 (and pitched his final game on July 16, 2000).

It's becoming more and more important for pitchers, and players in general, to find more reasonable career goals (like joining the plunked Biggio club), because among the 635 pitchers who threw last season, only about 48% of them joined the league before turning 24, and their average debut age was 24.1. For the current decade (2000-2006), the average debut age for pitchers has been 24.8 years, which is the second highest for any decade, behind only the 1940s when war played a major factor in baseball demographics. Position players are entering the league at their oldest average age since the 40s as well. It's also true that more players over 40 years old are staying in the league, and being productive longer, but time will tell whether having more 41 year olds in the league will produce more members of those exclusive clubs, in the long run, than having more 21 year olds in the league. Only two players plunked Biggio for the first time after turning 40 (Danny Darwin and David Wells).

Rockies out, Phillies in

The Astros beat up on the Rockies yesterday, winning 12-0, to take 3 of 4 in the series, but Craig Biggio didn't play, and didn't get hit by pitch in Saturday's game. Biggio did manage a .339 batting average for the 2nd half of June, which should help keep him in the lineup to chase those last 4 plunks he needs to break the all time record for being hit by pitches.

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies come to town, featuring this year's HBP leader, Chase Utley. Utley has already been hit 15 times this season, and was on a pace to potentially challenge the single season record, as of mid-May. But, he only got hit once in June, so he may have changed his mind about whether chasing that record is a good idea.

Jamie Moyer pitches for the visitors tonight, bringing his career total of 116 hit batters. He's 8th among active pitches in hitting batters, and he's hit 4 batters this year, but he's never plunked Craig Biggio. Moyer is one of only 5 active pitchers who hit a batter in the Major Leagues before Craig Biggio entered the league. (The others are Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and David Wells.)

Craig Biggio has only been hit by one pitch on July 2nd - last year, by Scott Feldman.