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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

WSJ:  There Is a Hit-by-Pitch Epidemic in Baseball (Reg Req’d)

But all this talk about pitchers hitting batters on purpose has distracted from a more puzzling question: Why are pitchers hitting so many batters by accident?

One out of every 96 plate appearances across the major leagues in 2018 ended with a batter being drilled. That was most often since 1900, a time when the National League consisted of teams called the Chicago Orphans, the Boston Beaneaters and the Brooklyn Superbas. This year is on track to leave even more bruises, with a batter being hit every 94 plate appearances.

With pitchers throwing harder than at any other point in history, it’s fair to say there has never been a more painful time to be a hitter.

Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 15, 2019 at 12:46 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: beanballs, pitching

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   1. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 15, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5842430)
A higher percentage of players are happy to be HBP than ever before.

   2. Davo Posted: May 15, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5842441)
Josh Reddick has no idea what you guys are talking about. (It’s been over 5 years since he was last hit by a pitch!)
   3. Rally Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:20 PM (#5842476)
I guess he's the new Garret Anderson. He once went 9 years and 5500+ PA with just one HBP.
   4. bfan Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5842479)
I guess he's the new Garret Anderson. He once went 9 years and 5500+ PA with just one HBP


and stayed in baseball several years after that, making no apparent effort.
   5. . Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5842481)
The way you counter launch angle focused swings is by going up and in. The more pitches are made intentionally up and in, the more HBPs will result. No more complicated than that.

Plus pitchers are being selected for velocity, not control. Would also tend to cause more HBP.
   6. Itchy Row Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5842482)
The last pitcher to hit Reddick was Pedro Figueroa. That was the only pitch Figueroa threw that day, and it was his last pitch in the major leagues.
   7. bobm Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5842483)
Thoughts on possible theories?

More walks and strikeouts means longer PAs, which means more pitches per PA that could hit a batter?

More focus on OBP (and more armor) makes certain hitters less likely to avoid HBP

More home runs and more armor means batters crowd the plate more? (Non retaliatory HBPs)

More relief pitching and/or use of younger players means more PAs by pitchers with worse control?

More relief pitching means more PAs with platoon advantage to the pitcher, i.e., more some-handed pitcher-batter PAs, which means more inside pitching / more pitching with balls that break on the same side as the batter?


   8. The Duke Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5842486)
More body armor and closer stance to plate. Rizzo completely pisses me off. If everyone did we he did they would have to change the rules. Players who get hit on hands or elbows should simply have a ball called. You should only get first base if you get hit in the body.
   9. Davo Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5842487)
I might add “less emphasis on pitching away leads to more pitches in the inside part of the plate”, maybe? I know batters have gotten way way better at hitting for power to the opposite field, which cuts into the efficacy of pitching to the outside corner.
   10. Davo Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5842491)
(I do kinda wonder how a guy like Tom Glavine—who feasted on the outside corner—would fare in today’s game.)
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:39 PM (#5842494)
Players who get hit on hands or elbows should simply have a ball called. You should only get first base if you get hit in the body.


You should get first base if the ball is inside the batter's box when it strikes you. If it strikes a part of your body outside the box, it's simply a ball/strike.

And you shouldn't have to get out of the way.

   12. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 15, 2019 at 04:41 PM (#5842496)
The last pitcher to hit Reddick was Pedro Figueroa. That was the only pitch Figueroa threw that day, and it was his last pitch in the major leagues.


Well, that explains why nobody's dared throw at him again.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: May 15, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5842522)
Gotta be the roids!

And the bat flips!
   14. Fancy Pants Handle struck out swinging Posted: May 15, 2019 at 05:33 PM (#5842526)
Rizzo completely pisses me off. If everyone did we he did they would have to change the rules.

That's already the rule. You have to make an effort to get out of the way or it is not a HBP. Umps just never ever call it.
   15. Hysterical & Useless Posted: May 15, 2019 at 05:45 PM (#5842537)
Umps just never ever call it.

Unless there's a record on the line.

Don Drysdale hit Dick Dietz with the bases loaded, which would've ended his consecutive scoreless inning streak in 1968 (May 14 - June 8). Umpire said "no HBP" because Dietz hadn't tried to avoid the pitch. I remember seeing the replay, he did pretty much stand stock-still.

Only time I've ever heard of that call being made.
   16. Itchy Row Posted: May 15, 2019 at 05:58 PM (#5842541)
It happened with Joe Crede in 2005. As it mentions in the article, Crede got kicked out of the game, which resulted in Jermaine Dye playing shortstop.
   17. JAHV Posted: May 15, 2019 at 06:15 PM (#5842546)
My unscientific observations are that there is a lot more opposite field power than ever before, which seems a result of batters standing a bit closer to the plate and waiting longer/extending their arms farther in order to hit outside pitches with authority. The result of the first is naturally more HBPs simply due to closer proximity to the plate. The second is indirectly because the way for pitchers to combat the opposite field power is to tie up batters with inside pitches. As a kid in the 80's and 90's, I remember announcers talking about how dangerous it was to pitch inside because turning on an inside pitch was the only way a lot of hitters could get a ball over the fence. It doesn't seem like that's the case any longer. Every pitcher has to be able to pitch inside to counter-act the opposite field power.
   18. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 15, 2019 at 10:28 PM (#5842602)

The way you counter launch angle focused swings is by going up and in. The more pitches are made intentionally up and in, the more HBPs will result. No more complicated than that.

Plus pitchers are being selected for velocity, not control. Would also tend to cause more HBP.


Yes, this is basically what the article says. Basically, pitchers for years were told to throw low and outside in order to get batters out. Batters adjusted with an uppercut swing that now launches those pitches over the fence. So pitchers are now trying to go up and in more often.

And you have more pitchers with less control than you used to.

There wasn't much about body armor as a cause of more HBPs -- I think MLB cracked down on the amount of body armor players could wear back when Bonds was playing, so that wouldn't explain why the number of HBPs has continued to increase over the past decade plus.

I would also note that faster pitches also give the batter less time to get out of the way, even if pitchers were throwing the same number of inside pitches with the same amount of control. So you'd still have the same number of HBP.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 15, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5842614)
In a timely turn, Justin Turner just got hit for the fourth game in a row. Dodgers broadcasters are saying that it's "ridiculous" that teams keep pitching him inside and "they don't care if they hit him." Conveniently leaving out the fact that Turner stands about 3 inches off the plate.
   20. The Honorable Ardo Posted: May 15, 2019 at 11:14 PM (#5842630)
That was the only pitch Figueroa threw that day, and it was his last pitch in the major leagues.

He's got nothing on Bob Sebra.
   21. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: May 15, 2019 at 11:17 PM (#5842631)
Among the things that I don't have the guts to do is standing about three inches off the plate against major league pitching. Heck, I'm scared in the fast pitch batting cages.
   22. A triple short of the cycle Posted: May 15, 2019 at 11:17 PM (#5842632)
You should get first base if the ball is inside the batter's box when it strikes you. If it strikes a part of your body outside the box, it's simply a ball/strike.
There are about 6 inches between the plate and the batters box.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: May 15, 2019 at 11:35 PM (#5842635)
There are about 6 inches between the plate and the batters box.


What does that matter?

   24. Spahn Insane Posted: May 15, 2019 at 11:59 PM (#5842636)
Broken link, Ardo.
   25. Sunday silence Posted: May 16, 2019 at 03:18 AM (#5842642)

The way you counter launch angle focused swings is by going up and in. The more pitches are made intentionally up and in, the more HBPs will result. No more complicated than that.


Its got to be more complicated than that. This is another one of your simplistic broad over generalizations.

For example: why wouldnt your theory hold water in say 1970 or 1950? Why wouldnt the same concepts apply? Why wouldnt it have been the same dynamic in 1920? Why is it different today? Maybe they didnt know what launch angle was, but they still had home runs right?
   26. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 16, 2019 at 07:29 AM (#5842647)
My simplistic thinking on body armor is that you can wear whatever you want, but you have to run the bases with that armor.
   27. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 16, 2019 at 07:57 AM (#5842651)
#25 they had a lot fewer home runs in the 70s obviously. So you could throw down in the zone with less risk. Also to throw inside comfortably you want enough velocity that the batter can’t get around on the pitch. So the fact that pitchers are throwing harder now makes that more possible.

I realize not everyone can read TFA but two datapoints in the article: in 2008, 29% of pitches were thrown on the inner half of the plate. This year it’s 32.5% (we don’t have pitch location data before 2008). Also starters hit batters less often than relievers—once per 109 batters vs once per 78 for relievers.
   28. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 16, 2019 at 08:00 AM (#5842652)

Also players didn’t start wearing batting helmets until the late 1930s/40s. So guys were less likely to lean into pitches before then (excluding the deadball era, when the risk was lower).
   29. Tim M Posted: May 16, 2019 at 11:56 AM (#5842788)
Maybe more pitching into the shift?
   30. Rally Posted: May 16, 2019 at 03:06 PM (#5842850)
My simplistic thinking on body armor is that you can wear whatever you want, but you have to run the bases with that armor.


Problem is you'll wind up with someone wearing Boba Fett armor, crowding the plate, and then using his jet pack to break Rickey Henderson's SB records.

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