Wednesday, August 22, 2007

those who stay out of the way

It's been a pretty bad year for getting hit by pitches in 2007 - plunks per game are down 5% from last season, to their lowest level since 1999. At the current rate of plunking, there will be a total of 92 fewer hit batters this season than there were last year. Whether this means that pitchers are losing control less often, or if more batters are choosing to get out of the way of inside pitches is anyone's guess, but there a couple of examples of players avoiding plunks at record rates.

Jose Reyes of the Mets has stepped to the plate 586 times this season without being hit by a pitch. If he holds up that pace of plate appearance per game, and doesn't get hit by any pitches, he could break Sandy Alomar (Sr.)'s single season record for most plate appearances in a season without being plunked. Alomar had 739 trips to the plate, and 0 HBPs in 1971 (the same year Ron Hunt got hit 50 times).

If Reyes doesn't make that record, Brian Roberts might. He's had 554 plate appearances so far, and no HBPs. He's only on pace for 730 plate appearances based on his rate per Orioles game, but he could still make it if the Baltimore offense picks up its pace and gets around their batting order a little more frequently.

At the moment their are 14 major league players who are on pace to have 500 plate appearances this season and have not been plunked. If they all make it to that number and don't get hit, that will be the most unplunked players in the majors with that many plate appearance since 1996.

In other news related to people going through entire seasons without doing certain things, Jason Stark pointed out in his recent column that Curtis Granderson is has gone this far in the season without hitting into a double play. Stark correctly notes that the only player to make it through a 162 game season without hitting into a double play is Craig Biggio in 1997. But he fails to mention that Granderson has already missed two games this season (June 5th and August 9th) - so even though the title of that section of the column is "The 0-for-162 Club", Granderson can only hope to join the 0-for-160 club in the GIDP category, unless the Tigers end the season in a three way tie and are forced to play multiple tie-breaking games or something ridiculous like that. Biggio played in all 162 games in 1997, without hitting into a double play.

Granderson does, however, have a shot at the record for most at-bats in a season without a GIDP (since the grounded-into-double-play stat became official in 1939) as Stark pointed out. He's fallen off the pace a bit since the article - down to a projected 623 at bats - 4 more than Biggio's 619. But, he won't get close to the number of total plate appearances Biggio had in 1997. Granderson is only on pace for 685 total plate appearance, while Biggio had 744 trips to the plate without a GIDP in 1997. If you're not one of those people who, of the top of your head, knows the exact difference between at-bats and plate appearances, it might not be obvious why Biggio would have so many more plate appearances in '97 than Granderson will have this year when the two are on pace for about the same number of at-bats. Plate appearances* is at-bats + walks + sacrifice flys + sacrifice hit + HBPs. Biggio got hit 34 times in '97, along with 7 sac-flys and 84 walks. Granderson has only been plunked once this year.

*technically the number of times the batter reached on catchers interference is supposed to be part of the plate appearances calculation, but it's often left out because it's sometimes hard to find and happens so infrequently anyway.


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