Do pitchers have reason to fear stepping into the box after hitting a batter?
An accepted piece of baseball wisdom that I understood growing up is that a pitcher is less likely to go headhunting if he has to step into the box himself. As J.C. Bradbury and Douglas J. Drinen wrote in the 2007 article “Crime and punishment in Major League Baseball: the case of the designated hitter and hit batters,”
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Bryce Harper has already impressed with his play, but on Sunday, he made a similarly strong statement about his much-maligned makeup.
We thought we knew Bryce Harper pretty well even before he arrived in the big leagues. We saw him on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16. We watched him dominate against older amateur competition, get drafted first overall, and hold his own against professional players several years his senior. Presented with Harper’s on-field exploits and the testimony of talent evaluators, we never questioned his skills, except to wonder whether he was merely great or the most promising prospect ever.
Our only serious questions concerned his makeup, and Baseball Prospectus was the source of some of the most concerning quotes. Two years ago, Kevin Goldsteinwrote, “It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.” Kevin repeated a scout’s assessment that Harper had “top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents.” He quoted one front-office official who said, “He’s just a bad, bad guy. He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.”
Revisiting historical HBP rates in the wake of Alex Avila's plunking by Jered Weaver's hand.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
As Jered Weaver prepares to serve his six-game suspension, take in some trends in HBP rates over time, which originally ran as a "Schrodinger's Bat" column on May 4, 2006.
Can the game make some needed changes in regard to safety on the diamond? Plus updates on Pedro Martinez, Hanley Ramirez's shoulder, and more.
Baseball has always been slow to change, but quick to react. Ray Chapman's name still resonates and some say his beaning led to the end of the Deadball Era. Helmets came into the game, ordered by baseball's most visionary and pragmatic executive, Branch Rickey, after a Pirates minor leaguer was killed, and were accepted in large part because of a terrible beaning suffered by Lou Boudreau. Unfortunately, safety improvements have all but stopped, perhaps because they were good enough to prevent--or the game was lucky enough not to have--another incident.
It's very bad news for the Expos--in fact, it could barely get much worse. Just days after losing Orlando Hernandez, Les Expos took a harder hit when Tony Armas was diagnosed with tears in both his labrum and rotator cuff. Just a week ago, the reports on Armas were glowing, so I'm not sure what changed. No decision has been made on a program, but Armas will likely be making a visit to Jim Andrews, Lewis Yocum, or another leading surgeon in the next few days. I don't foresee him avoiding surgery, but Jim Andrews has been seemingly reluctant to cut lately, preferring aggressive non-surgical therapy.
From the files of Brad Arnsberg: A good source, Lewis Shaw, wrote in with this assessment of Javier Vazquez:
"I saw Vazquez enough tonight to have serious concerns about his elbow. He strides way too far out from the windup, but more especially from the stretch. He lands with a stiff front leg from the stretch, is violent (as indicated by his head moving all over the place), and shows maximum effort. This was not the case as recently as last season. He constantly drops his elbow below his shoulder at delivery, getting no downhill angle on the baseball. Thus, from the stretch his four-seamer is flat. He torques his elbow in an effort to get life on his four-seamer, and depth on his slider. His velocity has diminished, and he sometimes gives the impression of pushing his flat four-seamer up. As recently as the spring of 2002, his four-seamer was consistently 95 mph; now it is consistently 91-93, touching 94. He appears to have lost arm strength. Thus, given his history in 2002, he might be a candidate for serious elbow injury."
This is not good news for Expos fans or baseball fans in general. I'm hoping to hear a lot more from Lewis in the near future.
Don't jump, Jonah.
What's that? BPR isn't in your area and you're not willing to move to Indy until we get a Jamba Juice? You haven't worn down your local program director? Fine. You just got another reason to be glad you're Premium. This week's BPR will be up on the site for your listening pleasure...just don't miss a day! We'll go one segment a day starting on Tuesday.
BRAVO!! Thank you for having the guts not to soft-peddle the behavior of
this lout. If he wasn't an athlete, he'd be in prison right now... which is
exactly where he belongs. Yet another case of preferential treatment for an
athlete who might be able to make someone else a few bucks. A fact which, I
believe, goes a considerable way toward answering the question, "Is Society Dead?"