The 2022 Mets season will be remembered for the franchise’s first trip to the playoffs in six years, Max Scherzer’s pitching and shortstop Francisco Lindor’s overall play.
And strangely enough for batters who are hit by pitches.
When Luis Guillorme was knocked down by Jake Cousins of the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 6-0 loss on the road, it marked the 106th time a Met has been hit by a pitch this year – a record for a season. The Cincinnati Reds had the record, 105, that they set last season. The Mets, who held onto a one-game lead in the NL East through Wednesday, have 11 games left.
The humble hit is often underestimated. If, as they say, “a walk is as good as a hit”, then a hit per throw is certainly as good as a walk. But the Mets stopped celebrating their record despite having handed 106 valuable baserunners to them.
“I’m closer to the plate and I don’t move, and pitchers are throwing in a lot now,” Mark Canha, who was hit twice in the game, told reporters afterwards. “It just kind of comes out that way.”
“It’s like a broken record right now,” Canha said, adding: “Yeah, sure, we’re frustrated. It’s like nothing great is happening to your team.”
Manager Buck Showalter, who has complained that the Mets were hit so often that the SNY network has a running gag of him responding to the incidents, acknowledged after the game that being hit by a pitch is the on-base percentage. of a player helped. But he said he was more concerned about the risk of injury. He also said his players were not responsible for the prevalence of incidents.
“They’re just wild pitches. You’ve seen them,’ he said. “They’re not close to the plate. They’re all over the batter’s box. It’s pretty hard to hit Guillorme how he got hit. You have to miss a big margin. It’s frustrating. I have some personal feelings about why it happens so often, but I’m sure MLB doesn’t want to hear about it in this format.”
Striking a batter is often thought of as something that a pitcher controls. But as anyone who’s played the game will attest, a batter can influence it by leaning in the right direction, crowding the plate just right, or moving away too slowly for a split second.
If it was up to the pitcher alone, how would you explain that Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was hit a record 285 times in his career, while Wade Boggs, another Hall of Famer with a similar amount of exposure, was hit just 23 times? touched?
Canha leads the majors this season after being hit 24 times, still below his personal best of 27 last year when he also led the majors. His fellow Mets Brandon Nimmo (16) and Starling Marte (13) are also in the top 10, and Marte hasn’t played since Sept. 6 after being hit in the hand and injuring a finger.
At least one Met has been largely spared: Infielder Eduardo Escobar, who reached 500 at bats for the year on Wednesday, was hit only once.
The Mets’ 106 total is comfortably ahead of any other team this season, but a lot of players are getting hit. The San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds have each batted more than 80 batters this season, with six more teams in the 1970s. Twenty years ago, just four teams finished in the 1970s, and 40 years ago, in 1982, no team was higher than 35.
Since 2018, there have been more than 0.4 batsmen batted per game in every season, numbers not seen consistently since the rough days of the 1800s.
There are theories as to why so many batters are hit these days. One is that players are better protected: gear like elbow pads makes them more fearless and less interested in ducking out of an infield. A second theory holds that teams value pitchers’ speed much more than control, leading to faster but wilder throws.
At the beginning of this season, another theory surfaced: the ball was responsible. “MLB has a really big problem with the baseballs,” Mets starter Chris Bassitt said at the time, adding, “They’re bad. Everyone in the Premier League knows it. Every voter knows it. They’re bad.”
Baseball responded by saying it was analyzing trends and speaking with players and coaches to allay concerns about batted batsmen.
Showalter asked for the ball after the record-breaking field on Wednesday. After the game, he joked, “It would be obscene to tell you what I was going to do with it.”
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