Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 12, 2011

Just some numbers for fun. Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings remains the all-time champion in getting hit by pitches - playing his whole career in the days before helmets, Jennings was hit by pitches in 5.1% of his plate appearances, accounting for 13.3% of his times on base (counting hits, walks and HBP). Burt Solomon, in his book Hit Em Where They Ain't (a good read about the 1890s Orioles) recounts that Jennings was actually terrified to crowd the plate, but trained in the offseason by having John McGraw throw balls at his head constantly until he was able to stand in without flinching.

Among players who lasted long enough to get drilled with 100 pittches, nobody else comes close to that 5.1% figure, but the 1890s were a violent time in the game. Counting only players since 1900 with 100 or more HBP, here's the top 15 measured by HBP as a percentage of times on base:

Jason LaRue (the modern champ at 11%)
Ron Hunt
Reed Johnson
Fernando Vina
Don Baylor
Jason Kendall
Aaron Rowand
Steve Evans
Chase Utley
Art Fletcher
David Eckstein
Jose Guillen
Frank Chance
Damion Easley
Minnie Minoso

Craig Biggio just misses the list, at #16. I was surprised to see Utley (at 7.6%) that high.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:37 PM | Baseball 2011 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Two quick thoughts:

1) I'm a Reds fan and as I remember there was about a three year stretch where LaRue's HBP was so high that they actually made him a marginally adequate hitter, especially as a catcher.

2) I read recently (in the context of the effect of his injury) that about 30 points of Utley's stellar career OBP is due to his HBPs.

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Posted by: Marcelo Costa at April 13, 2011 8:20 PM

Soon to make this list: Carlos Quentin.

Quentin is at 76 HBP and those account for 10.9% of his times on base.

Posted by: stevebogus at April 13, 2011 8:23 PM

Don Baylor was an old-school bad ass who didn't care if you threw at him or if he got hit by a random pitch. He never flinched and simply took his base. Great at-the-plate bad-assedness. Tough guy. His MVP was ludicrously undeserved but he was a really good old school tough guy.

Posted by: jim at April 14, 2011 1:24 AM
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