Doug Fister is doing something kind of amazing so far this season. He’s hitting more batters than he is walking. Through 8 starts and 50 innings, Fister has hit 10 batters and walked 8 for a HBP-BB = 2. This is remarkable just because it’s a crazy thing, but it’s also remarkable because it has never happened before. (Editor’s Note: As of 9/2, Fister has hit 16 and walked 37 in 179.2 IP, he currently ranks 3rd all time and is 5 behind the leader. As of August 7th, this is the BB% to HBP% of every season in MLB history. Fister is in red).
Granted, Fister is only about a quarter of the way through his season and this can’t possibly keep up, but it’s worth noting how crazy this is. Over the course of an entire season, for qualified pitchers, no one has ever hit more batters than they have walked. The MLB record holder is Carlos Silva in 2005 who hit 3 batters and walked 9 in 188.1 innings. That walk rate itself is just fun to look at, but it’s beside the point. No one has ever complete a full season in which they have hit more batters than they have walked and the closest anyone has ever come is a differential of 6.
Now certainly, you will call attention to a small sample size and that over 50 innings pretty much anything can happen. And that’s true, but it doesn’t escape the fact that in 2013, no one else is hitting more batters than they are walking. Not Wainwright, not Colon, not Haren. None of the great control artists of our time are doing this even in the same small sample as Fister. I’m sure there are instances of pitchers doing this over similarly small stretches in history, but they would be very hard to find.
Think of it this way, from 1900-2013, the average pitcher hits 5 batters a season and walks 68. Even in the smallest of samples, it’s pretty extraordinary to find a period in which a pitcher is hitting more than he is walking, and these statistics include eras in which walks were much less common. Even in data that includes the 2013, which will bias the data away from these results, I calculate a chance that a pitcher would finish a season with more HBP than BB between 0.5 and 2 percent if this process played out at random. Here is a graph of HBP-BB with 2013 included, which will include pitchers like Wainwright this year who just haven’t walked many batters because they are good and it’s only been six weeks:
For now, Fister is on pace for a record all his own.
From Last Night:
- Matt Moore dominates the Yankees, tosses 8 2-hit innings and strikes out 9 in a 5-1 win
- Miller and the Cards edge the Nats 3-2
- Felix and the Mariners handle the Astros
What I’m Watching Today:
- Wainwright looks to stay hot against Detwiler and the Nats (7p Eastern)
- Kershaw and Niese hook up in a battle of talented lefties (7p Eastern)
- Cain looks to straighten out against rookie standout Patrick Corbin (10p Eastern)
The Big Question:
- Will we be watching the NL Cy Young today with Kershaw and Wainwright in action?
I was a big believer in Shin Shoo Choo going into the season from an offensive perspective. I thought he was exactly what the Reds needed. So far, that looks pretty good. The defense is hit and miss so far (-3.7 UZR), but here’s his line as of 10:12pm on April 22:
.371/.522/.614, .490 wOBA, 216 wRC+, 1.3 WAR
Not bad. He’s only reaching base more often that he is making outs. That’s not a valuable skill or anything. How’s he doing it? Well he’s a patient hitter in a good park, but he’s also been hit 10 times. The league leader was only hit 17 all of last season. He’s on pace for close to 80 HBP, which would be silly, but he’s going to have a lot. The record, should you be interested, belongs to Ron Hunt of the 1971 Expos. He was hit 50 times. Don Baylor was hit 35 times in 1986, which is second best. Choo might have a shot at that one.