St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton (2) is hit by a pitch in the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Over the course of a season, lots of batters get hit by pitches. Some of those pitches are closer to the plate than others. Let's look at 2012's hit-by-pitches that've been closest to the plate.
It's Friday afternoon for some of us, and for some of you, it's already Friday evening. If I were a real baseball writer with words and insight, I'd probably write something up about, since that's the big story, and since it's almost impossible to imagine baseball without him. But I'm a hack whose bosses don't know it, and Friday's a day for Internet frivolity, so I'm writing about hit-by-pitches instead. More accurately, I'm posting pictures of hit-by-pitches. I'm barely even writing at all.
So far during the 2012 regular season, pitchers have hit batters with pitches 223 times. There have been 148 triples, 200 caught-stealings, and 314 reached-on-errors. So that gives you some perspective on how common hit-by-pitches are, as if you didn't already know. We're all baseball fans, and we've all seen enough hit-by-pitches to know that they're common but not that common.
Some of those hit-by-pitches have been really bad. I don't mean in terms of the consequences, although some of them have had nasty consequences. I mean that some of them have been really bad, really inside pitches. Some of them have been less bad, less inside pitches. You know what's really annoying? When an opposing batter reaches base after getting hit by a pitch that was barely inside. I grew curious to see which hit-by-pitches so far this season have been the least inside. So I dove into the numbers, and below you can see what I found. I'm presenting a top-six, with three lefty batters and three righty batters.
6. Joe Blanton
14.6 inches from center of plate
Immediately on the list, we have a pitcher facing a pitcher. Behind in the count 1-and-2, Blanton dips his elbow into the path of the ball and earns himself a base. Sometimes I wonder if a catcher is less likely to try to take out a catcher on a play at the plate, out of respect for the position. You could also wonder whether a pitcher would be less likely to deliberately get hit by a pitch, out of respect for the position. As far as Joe Blanton's concerned, nope.
5. Cody Ransom
14.5 inches from center of plate
Sure, on the one hand, the pitch that hit Ransom here was barely inside. On the other hand, I'm pretty certain every pitch Heath Bell has thrown so far this year has been a colossal mistake.
4. Lucas Duda
14.4 inches from center of plate
Would you believe that I'd never watched Lucas Duda hit before in my life? I actually probably had watched Lucas Duda hit before, but I don't remember anything. It was all unremarkable. This is remarkable. What I now know about Lucas Duda is that he is not immune to being really annoying.
3. Tyler Flowers
13.9 inches from center of plate
There's something really amazing about this particular hit-by-pitch:
The pitch hit Tyler Flowers. It deflected off of Tyler Flowers and hit Tigers catcher Alex Avila. Flowers tossed his bat and trotted to first base. Avila went down to the ground in pain and had to be looked at by the team trainer. Tyler Flowers got hit by a pitch that was barely inside and it's the catcher who came away hurt. This might be the most cosmically unjust hit-by-pitch in years.
2. Jason Kipnis
13.6 inches from center of plate
Hey, you know what Jonathan Sanchez needs? For pitches that don't even miss by that much to turn into automatic base-runners. Nothing quite like tightening the constraints for Jonathan Sanchez. He can definitely handle that.
1. Brian Bogusevic
13.5 inches from center of plate
Finally, one in the foot. Brian Bogusevic was like, I think I'll try to bunt for a base hit. Then he was like, wait, I can reach base if I just leave my foot where it is and not bunt because this pitch is low and inside, kind of. Brian Bogusevic has a very fast-working brain. The pitch hit Bogusevic in the toes. Bogusevic's toes were on the inner edge of the batter's box. The name "Bogusevic" is featured several times in this paragraph, because I'm trying to learn it.
Some other day, perhaps we'll review the entire 2011 season in barely-inside hit-by-pitches. And we'll probably post an update on the 2012 season in barely-inside hit-by-pitches. This content is basically indispensable.