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June 7, 2013
The Longest Plate Appearance of the Week, 6/7
In last week’s edition of TLPAotW, commenter dbertelli asked, “Who are the all-time hitter record holders for number of plate appearances of more than 10 pitches?” The answer is these guys, with the caveat that “all-time,” in this context, means “since 1988,” which is as far back as Retrosheet pitch-by-pitch data goes:
Obviously, the longer your career, the more 10-plus-pitch PA you’re likely to have. Here are the leaders in 10-plus-PA percentage, minimum 1000 plate appearances.
So, Cory Sullivan: the answer to a trivia question no one’s ever asked.
Longest Plate Appearance(s) of the Week, 5/30-6/5
After two weeks of ties, we have one plate appearance alone in first place. It pits 28-year-old John Danks, whose velocity has done this over the past couple of years,
The plot (catcher’s perspective):
The exhausted player:
Once you get deep enough into a place appearance, even basic tasks like bracing a bat against your crotch become challenging.
And eight pitches in, Kendrys Morales is still sweaty from running to second.
1. 0-0: 86-mph cutter, swinging strike
This looks like a home run swing, but so does almost every other swing by Ibanez, whose plan at this point seems to be "swing really hard and hope to hit something." Nice movement on the cutter from Danks.
2. 0-1: 89-mph four-seamer, swinging strike
Danks dials up the velo, such as it is, and Ibanez can't catch up with it. Ibanez's slowing bat makes for a good matchup with Danks' slowing pitch speeds.
3. 0-2: 86-mph cutter, foul
Another 86-mph cutter, but without the first one's sinking action. Danks got away with one here.
4. 0-2: 90-mph two-seamer, foul
The first sinker of the plate appearance, well off the plate inside.
5. 0-2: 85-mph cutter, foul
Another elevated cutter that probably would've been a ball on 0-2. Ibanez has started the plate appearance with five straight swings.
6. 0-2: 85-mph cutter, ball
Perhaps hoping Ibanez is stuck in swing mode, Danks tries a waste pitch that doesn't work. It's the wildest pitch of the plate appearance, and Ibanez holds up.
7. 1-2: 80-mph changeup, foul
After wasting one well outside, Danks throws a changeup inside. Ibanez has swung at just about everything low and inside this season, and this pitch is no exception. He barely gets a piece of it.
8. 1-2: 90-mph two-seamer, ball
Same area, but 10 miles per hour faster. This time Ibanez doesn't chase.
9. 2-2: 84-mph cutter, foul
This is the closest any pitch in the plate appearance comes to dead center. Jesus Sucre was set up outside, so this looks like another mistake that Ibanez misses.
10. 2-2: 80-mph changeup, foul
More low-and-inside Ibanez catnip. It would be difficult to keep this pitch fair, though he does his darndest.
11. 2-2: 89-mph four-seamer, ball
Back to the opposite side of the strike zone. Ibanez doesn't bite.
12. 3-2: 86-mph cutter, foul
A little closer to the plate, tough to hit but too close to take. Ibanez fouls one off for the seventh time.
13. 3-2: 82-mph changeup, in play
This wasn't the worst pitch of the plate appearance, in isolation; it was on the outside corner. But it was a bit elevated, and maybe more importantly, it was pretty close to the location of the previous pitch, without a huge separation in speed. Ibanez did with it what he's done to 11 pitches this season. Ten of them have gone out to right, where he's hit almost all of his homers in the last few years.
In a 13-pitch sequence, only once (pitches five and six) did Danks go to the same pitch type on back-to-back offerings. He changed speeds (to the extent that his arsenal allows) and moved the ball around, but he couldn't beat Ibanez. "What a magnificent at-bat!" Dave Sims yelled, almost before the long fly landed.
"I just ran out of ideas," Danks said after the game. "We threw hard away, soft away, hard in, soft in. I thought I had him looking in, and threw a cutter away and it was up a little more than I like."
At that point you just forget about the count, you forget about everything that's happening," Ibanez said. "At one point in the box, I said, 'I think that's 3-2.' Then I said to myself, 'It doesn't matter. At this point, it doesn't matter. You're just fighting.'"
After 13 pitches, the fans were probably just expecting another foul, so they weren't ready when their moment arrived: