Friday, April 07, 2006
Pedro's a head-hunter? Good!
Apparently Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen is all worked up because our man Pedro Martinez plunked him a couple times Thursday night. It appeared that way because Guillen headed toward the mound with his bat after dusting himself off.
As if that’s a bad thing.
Sure, Pedro’s inching up on the all-time chart for hit-batsmen. But he's just sixth among active players, with 119. Make that 122, because he nailed Nick Johnson on Thursday, too. He’ll need a similar performance in his next start to catch Greg Maddux, who is next on the list with 125.
Blogger Ryan O’Connell of Always Amazin' might be saying this with tongue in cheek: "Pretty funny how Pedro has drilled Guillen five times in 40 appearances over their careers. I've been a fan of Pedro's since he entered the league, so it's difficult for me to imagine disliking him. But he must just enrage players and fans of other teams. How can a guy with such pinpoint control drill so many hitters (30th all-time)."
Ryan, who does an excellent job, is either being funny or missed the point. Pedro drills these guys because he has pin-point control. I suspect he knows exactly where he is throwing. You crowd the plate, and Pedro’s going to let you know that’s his turf.
I got excited about hit-batsmen when I was part of a simulated league on What If Sports. In the league, you get to pick players from any era to form a team, even multiple seasons from the same player. The computer then simulates games.
Naturally, I had an entire rotation of Tom Seavers from various years. And I grew frustrated when the cyber-Seavers kept drilling batters in the simulations, usually multiple times in a game. Sometimes he’d even get ejected.
I objected, because it’s not like Seaver had a rep for being a head-hunter. But after a while we relented and began to appreciate the noggin-knockers, even cheered for such things when they happened in games, both virtual and in real life.
Of course, Dodger Hall-of-Famer Don Drysdale is the patron saint of head-hunters. Double-D’s 154 hit-batsmen doesn’t even put him in the top 10 all-time. But while some of these modern guys grumble that it’s a part of their job, Drysdale seemed to actually enjoy sending batters into the dirt.
"Don Drysdale would consider an intentional walk a waste of three pitches," Mike Shannon once said. "If he wants to put you on base, he can hit you with one pitch."
And Hall-of-Famer Orlando Cepeda said, "The trick against Drysdale is to hit him before he hits you."
Sadly, we can’t root for the active leaders in the category. Randy Johnson, who was cool before he went Yankee, leads with 168 batters drilled and several photographers.
Roger O’Batchucker is next with 150, with about 148 of them being Mike Piazza. Another Yankee, Kevin Brown in next with 139, though I’m not sure if he should even be on the active list.
Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield is next, and he’s no fun because he’s not actually trying to hit people — he just can’t control where the knuckleball is going. And Maddux, well, he doesn’t throw hard enough anymore to cause a bruise.
So that leaves Pedro as the defacto active leader.
As far as Mets go, Al Leiter leads all-time with 63, followed by Seaver, 52; Jerry Koosman, 49; and Doc Gooden, 41.
Sadly, our single-season leaders owe more to control issues than menace. Gimpy armed Pedro Astacio nailed 16 people in 2002, and there’s a three-way tie for second place. Kevin Appier drilled 15 guys in 2001, Nolan Ryan nailed 15 in 1971, and it must have smarted to be on the receiving end of one of those bullets.
Then we have Victor Zambrano hitting 15 batters last year in an attempt to win our hearts.
As for batters wearing targets, our man Carlos Delgado is third among active players, getting bonked 139 times. Poor Carlos. Curious, however, that the top 10 also includes three Yankees — Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter. Now why would anybody want to hit them?