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.