Thursday, September 20, 2007

plunk primes

Ten years ago, Craig Biggio was 31 years old and setting his career high in getting hit by pitches with 34 (assuming he doesn't break that high mark by getting hit 32 times in the next 10 games - that would be several records). Biggio was the 2nd oldest player ever to reach 30 HBPs, behind only Don Baylor who reached his rather late career plunk-peak at age 37, when he got hit 35 times for the '86 Red Sox (the AL single season record).

Here's breakdown of everyone who ever had a career high of 10 plunks or more, by the age at which they reached their get-hitting peak:
AgePlayers who set their
career high in
HBPs at that age
201
213
227
2321
2438
2549
2646
2776
2863
2956
3057
3142
3226
3322
3411
3510
368
377
382
396
402
421
431
(players who tied their own career high in different seasons are counted multiple times, and ages are based on season - year of birth rather than the frequently used convention of age at july 1st of the season, just because my way is slightly easier)

Deacon White was 42 through the entire 1890 season, when he set his career high of 19, but is in the 43 bucket because he turned 43 in December of that year. He's still the player who was the oldest when he recorded his career high though (among players who don't have a lame career high under 10), because the next oldest was chemically enhanced active senior-citizen Barry Bonds. He turned 42 in the middle of 2006, and he only tied his career high with 10 that year.

For most players, their best getting-hit years will be between the ages of 27 and 30. The largest numbers of 15+ and 20+ plunk seasons can be found at those ages as well as shown below.

Numbers of 15+ and 20+ plunk seasons in years players turned each age:
Age15+ HBP seasons20+ HBP seasons
2010
2121
2250
2331
24144
25195
26269
273312
283812
293811
303410
312411
32177
33142
3471
3562
3673
3752
3832
3930
4010
4310


Don Baylor narrowly edged Biggio for the highest age during a season with over 20 plunks, because he turned 38 during his final season over 20 plunks, and Biggio turned 38 in the December following his last season with over 20. Frank Robinson was the youngest player ever to reach 20 plunks, in 1956, the year he turned 21.

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