Sunday, August 17, 2008

Are Good Pitchers More Likely To Hit Batters Who Hit Them Well?

I started wondering about this after last week's post on whether or not HR hitters are more likely to get hit by the pitch in recent times than they did in the 1950s and 60s. I took the top 10 in wins from 1960-69 and from 1998-2007. Then I found the correlation between their HBP% and HR%, OPS and SLG. For HBP% the formula was HBP/(HBP + AB). The other stats are calculated normally. My table below shows only 5 pitchers in the last 10 years since only 5 of them had faced 30+ batters in at least 50 ABs (those were the cutoffs I used). The data comes from Retrosheet. You can click on table to see a bigger version. A batter's record against a pitcher also includes cases not in the specified period. It includes their entire careers.

There may not be alot to learn here. Some guys have negative correlations and many are very low. The two who standout are Bunning and Mussina. According to the Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, Bunning hit 160 batters while the average would have hit only 90. Relative to the league average, he was the 3rd most likely to hit a batter in the 1960s with 1000+ IP.

Mussina is very interesting. In his career he only hit 52 batters while the average pitcher would have hit 125. He was the 10th least likely to hit a batter relative to the league average in the last 10 years. Yet he has very high correlations on OPS & SLG. It seems like if a guy hit Mussina well, he was more likely to hit him. Yet Mussina has been very good at not hitting people in general. Has be been selectively and intentionally hitting certain guys? Of the 39 batters who have 50+ ABs against Mussina in the last 10 years, only 10 have been hit at least once. But their collective AVG against him is .321 (again, that is for their whole careers, not just the last 10 years). The other batters combined for only a .253 AVG. Getting back to the 10 who have been hit, they have collectively slugged .541 in their careers against Mussina.

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