No Worse For Wear: The Best at Taking HBPs Like a Champ
By Jon Becker
All stats through Sunday’s games
Hit by pitches are obviously pretty common, with about one every one-and-a-quarter games this season (1198 of them in the first 1,490 games). Some players are more prone than others; the Reds’ Derek Dietrich has gotten hit 22 times in just 260 plate appearances!
It doesn’t seem fun to walk to the plate and have an 8% chance of getting drilled by a projectile, but that’s a big part of his game. I don’t want to investigate who’s gotten hit the most or at the greatest rate, though; that’s easy enough for anyone to find on their own.
What I do want to know is this: who’s most adept at getting hit by pitches without getting harmed by pitches?
SIS has been tracking player injuries since the onset of the 2015 season. With each injury, our Video Scouts assign an Injury Severity on a scale of 1 to 5, which is then validated by our expert, a former clinical research specialist. This is completely separate from any diagnosis, and is based almost entirely on observing the player’s reaction. The most basic way to describe each level of severity is:
1: No visible reaction, no stoppage of play
2: Slight visible reaction, possible delay in game
3: Definite visible reaction, longer delay of game
4: Looks very painful, gets trainer visit, needs extensive time to recover
5: Very bad injury, basically immobile, needs help leaving field
So, with those descriptions in mind, I wanted to categorize hit-by-pitch types. It’s an inexact science, but I decided to group severity types 1 and 2 together, calling them “No Big Deal Hit By Pitches” (NBD HBP, for short).
These are hit by pitches where a batter doesn’t react much if at all, and is no worse for wear as he takes his base almost immediately. When dividing their NBD HBP by all HBP, we can get a percentage of HBP where the batter was basically totally fine.
Amazingly, of the 167 players to be hit by at least 15 pitches since 2015, 29 of them (17%) haven’t had a hit-by-pitch of severity 3 or greater, for a perfect 100% “NBD HBP rate.” Here are those players (Reminder: all stats through Sunday):
|Jung Ho Kang||PIT||23|
Bringing up the rear of the list is Jean Segura, who has reacted with a severity of 3 or greater on 12 of his 28 hit-by-pitches (43%). Only six of the 167 players have an NBD HBP rate below 70%. The league-average rate is 89% since we’ve begun tracking severity (103 of the players who’ve been plunked at least 15 times are above the league average).
When looking at the above list and considering our injury severity system in general, it’s important to note that severity doesn’t necessarily line up with diagnoses or long-term effects or whether or not the player had to go on the Injured List.
Segura isn’t necessarily the most unlucky of our sample of 167 players, but he has reacted to hit-by-pitches the worst severely, on average. Everyone reacts to injuries differently, and this isn’t a measure of toughness or mental fortitude so much as it is an exercise in determining who’s “best” at not getting too hurt by baseballs being hurled right at them.