Duck and Cover

March 16, 2020
                                                             Duck and Cover

 

            This is third article in the series looking at the distributions of run-costly events, from a defensive standpoint.  An incidental consequence of this research is that we have to identify the best and worst teams in each run-costing or run-saving event, which has to be done so that we know where to set the floor from which success can be measured.   We’ve done strikeouts and walks; today we’ll do Hit Batsmen, same method as before.

            HB are called "HB"—hit batsmen—from the pitcher’s standpoint, but "Hit By Pitch" from the batter’s standpoint.  I believe that is the only category in the traditional batting/pitching record that has a different name from one side than the other.  In other words, Home Run are "HR" for the batter and "HR" for the pitcher, walks are "BB" for the batter, BB against the pitcher.   Everything that has the same definition has the same name from both standpoints, I think, except HB/HBP.  Don’t know why that is. 

            Anyway, the 1991 San Diego Padres faced 6,092 opposing batters.   The period norm for Hit Batsmen was .00721 of opposing hitters, so the Padres could have been expected to hit 44 batters with pitches, or some number kind of like that.   In fact, they hit only 13 batters with pitches, which was 2.5 Standard Deviations below the period norm.   Being 2.5 standard deviations better than the league norm we will state as 125.  These are best don’t-hit-‘em teams since 1900:

            1991 San Diego Padres     13       125

            1960 Pittsburgh Pirates     11       125

            2004 Atlanta Braves         27       125

            1961 White Sox                12       124

            1945 St. Louis Browns        5        124

            1907 White Sox                22       124

            2010 San Diego Padres      28       124

            1960 Cardinals                  12       124

            1990 Baltimore Orioles       16       123

            1978 San Diego Padres       12       122

 

            All of those teams except the 1990 Orioles had winning records, by the way; the Orioles were 76-85.   And these are the teams that had the WORST records for Plunking People with Pitches:

 

            1922 Detroit Tigers           84       54

            The 1922 Tigers were managed by Ty Cobb.  Might be relevant.   The Tigers hit 84 batters with pitches, which was 4.6 Standard Deviations worse than the norm for that era.  100-46 is 54, so we list that as "54".  The second-worst team was managed by John McGraw, also an aggressive gentleman.   Not always a gentleman.  The bottom ten:

            1922 Detroit Tigers            84       54

            1900 New York Giants        94       64

            1988 Blue Jays                  59       65

            1911 Philadelphia A’s          81       65

            1971 Houston Astros          60       66

            1977 Seattle Mariners        61       97

            1923 Boston Red Sox         68       67

            1968 White Sox                 66       68

            1935 Phillies                      47       68

            1988 Texas Rangers           56       69

 

            The 1911 Philadelphia A’s won 101 games despite hitting 81 batters with pitches, and the 1988 Blue Jays and 1922 Detroit Tigers also had better-than-.500 records; the rest of these teams had losing records.    A good HB record correlates with team success at some level, as reflected in this chart:

Fewest HB

26

 

82

74

.523

Second Fewest

33

 

79

77

.507

Average

38

 

79

78

.502

More HB

45

 

77

79

.492

Watch Your Ass

55

 

75

82

.477

 

            The top 510 teams in the study had an average of 26 Hit Batsmen, and an average record of 82-74.  The bottom 510 teams had an average of 55 Hit Batsmen, and an average record of 75-82.   But this happened not simply because hitting batters leads directly to runs being scored, but also because teams which hit more batters with pitches also walked more hitters.  They hit batters with pitches not always because they were mean or were pitching inside, but also because they were a little wild:

           

           

  WALKS

   

Fewest HB

26

82

74

.523

485

 

Second Fewest

33

79

77

.507

489

 

Average

38

79

78

.502

507

 

More HB

45

77

79

.492

516

 

Watch Your Ass

55

75

82

.477

530

 

 

            The teams which hit the fewest batters with pitches walked an average of 485 batters, while the teams which hit the most batters with pitches walked an average of 530.   Hit Batsmen and Walks are fellow travelers. 

            Let me put on record the HB/HBP average for each decade, and the standard deviation on a team basis:

From

To

Average

Standard Deviation

1900

1909

.00934

.00226

1910

1919

.00536

.00200

1920

1929

.00541

.00181

1930

1939

.00378

.00117

1940

1949

.00351

.00109

1950

1959

.00501

.00143

1960

1969

.00576

.00157

1970

1979

.00509

.00138

1980

1989

.00466

.00140

1990

1999

.00721

.00200

2000

2009

.00933

.00203

2010

2019

.00902

.00182

 

 

 
 

COMMENTS (9 Comments, most recent shown first)

pwfink
I take back my previous comment that I have no way of demonstrating whether increases in HBP (or HB) are due to the pitcher and catcher. It would be possible to check this by looking at whether the standard deviation of the hit batter is higher for pitchers or catchers. Whichever is higher would (I think) be the group more responsible for the outcome.
4:51 PM Mar 19th
 
MichaelPat
It's batters, not pitchers, who have been driving up the HBP totals since 2000. More batters wearing more protective gear. More batters crowding the plate to get after that outside pitch...
12:02 PM Mar 18th
 
KaiserD2
The decade averages confirm something that Bill wrote a long time ago: that the 1960s were a much bigger head-hunting era than what had come immediately before. The drop off in the 1970s isn't as pronounced as I would have expected, although the trend continued in the 1980s, which is when I first recall Bill writing that. I'm very surprised that HBP is up higher than the 1960s in the last two decades, though. I suppose this doesn't show up in individual pitchers' totals because they pitch relatively few innings.

DK
7:04 AM Mar 18th
 
pwfink
hotstatrat,

I would guess that the rise in HBP over the recent decades has more to do with the batters' motivation, or lack thereof, to getting out of the way of pitches than to any changes in what the pitchers are doing. On the other hand, I have no idea how to demonstrate that.
8:41 PM Mar 17th
 
bjames
Small point, but John McGraw wasn't managing the Giants in 1900. He was playing with the Cardinals that year.


Thanks. (Slaps forehead in gesture of self-annoyance.)
4:10 PM Mar 17th
 
3for3
I wonder how much of the correlation of HBP to winning comes from HBP after a team is already being blown out.
9:34 AM Mar 17th
 
CharlesSaeger
How do all these look from the hitting side of the ledger?
2:30 AM Mar 17th
 
BobGill
Small point, but John McGraw wasn't managing the Giants in 1900. He was playing with the Cardinals that year.
12:19 AM Mar 17th
 
hotstatrat
After the first decade of two stable leagues, is interesting that the average number of HB seems to correlate to somewhat to the offensive level of the decade (as you would expect) - EXCEPT the 1990s and even more in the 2000s - just the opposite. Starting then, the trend seems to be towards plunking batters no matter what the chances are of him scoring, although that has lessoned somewhat this most recent decade.

So much for the macho '60s when pitchers weren't considered manly if they didn't brush back the batters off the plate. It would have seemed that way at the time, but the last three decades make those guys seem like sissies.

I'd like to see how this data compares to mound charges.
11:55 PM Mar 16th
 
 
©2020 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Web site design and development by Americaneagle.com|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy