Getting plunked by a baseball is a noble and painful art | Dorktown

– This story begins with Ronald Acuña Jr. After months of
anticipation, the 20-year-old Acuña was called up to
the Braves roster in 2018, and by August, he was
crushing National League pitching. On the 12th, he hit his
4th homer in 5 games. Then, the Marlins came to
town and Acuña clobbered them too, hitting 4 home
runs in the first 3 games of the series. – Which, in the entirety of MLB history, that was just the 82nd time a player had ever
mashed at least eight dingers within an 8-game stretch
of his team’s season. It’s something that’s occurred
well less than once per season across baseball and its
scarcity can be underscored by the fact that no one in
all of MLB did so for the first 3.5 years of the ’90s. And Acuña ripped off that
incredible run at an age where he couldn’t have even
bought a beer to celebrate said accomplishment. – So, you take the mound for the 4th and final
game of the series. You’ve watched Acuña make
a mockery of your pitching staff. It’s the very first pitch of the game. What do you throw? If you’re Jose Ureña, the answer is this. A 97 mph fastball, directed
right at his elbow. Acuña left the game shortly
thereafter and his streak was over. Urena started the game,
threw exactly one pitch, hit a batter with it, and was ejected. The only time on record
this has ever happened. So, Alex, that was a
really crappy thing to do. It caused him bodily injury,
and it was just rotten, it was nasty, but there’s
one player who has managed to take the act of getting
hit with a baseball into a weapon. And, what is his name? – Brandon Guyer. – If you, sorry, I was thinking of something,
sorry we can start that over. I got too far ahead of myself
trying to think of a goof and I forgot to say words. – Nice. (upbeat electronic music) – Here are just about all the things that can happen if you
step into the batter’s box. Most likely, you’ll ground
out or you’ll pop out. This has actually been in
sharp decline over the last 20 years, because meanwhile
it’s become more and more likely that you’ll strike out. In 2019, nearly 23% of all
plate appearances ended with a strikeout, which
throughout most of baseball history, was unimaginable. In fact, it’s gotten so bad
there are now more strikeouts than hits. Until just a few years ago,
there was a chasm between these two. As for those hits, there
is the single which has remained pretty stable
throughout baseball history, same with the double. The triple, meanwhile, is
the $2 bill of baseball. It’s the most rare, without
being the most valuable. And it’s been waning in
popularity since a peak around 1976, but it’s still pretty neat. Up here, of course, we have the dinger. Like the strikeout, it’s
kind of flying out of control these days. I mean, it’s catching up with the double. If the home run actually
becomes more common than both the double and the triple,
we need to replace the baseball with a handful of Play-doh. For more charts on this
nonsense, you can check out our Dorktown article, which
we’ll link in the description, unless I forgot to. The non-intentional walk is
up here, the intentional walk is down here. This is where we get to
the really exotic outcomes. Batters reach base on
error about 1% of the time. The only astronomically
rare result is the catcher’s interference, called when
the catcher interferes with the batter’s swing. The batter is then awarded
first base free of charge. This only happens about 20
to 50 times a year across an entire Major League Baseball
season. And finally, we encounter the entire point
of this episode, the hit by pitch, which happens
about 1% of the time. Being hit by pitches seems
like a very strange thing to claim to be good at, it’s
like saying you’re really good at birds taking a crap on you. You’re not the one doing it. If you want to be great at
being hit by pitches, the only agency you have is in
crowding the play and leaning into every stray pitch you can. So, who wants this crown? Who wants to be the hit-by-pitch champion? According to this chart, almost nobody. Almost nobody. (mysterious electronic music) – Through the 2019 season, there have been over 4,000 players throughout
MLB history that have accumulated at least 1,000
career plate appearances. One of those is Brandon
Guyer, a corner outfielder who spent most of his career
in Tampa. He is also a man who has lapped the field
in the art of getting hit by a pitch, getting plunked
on over 5.7% of his career plate appearances. He is, quite simply, the hit-by-pitch god. If we only count since 1920,
the period known as the live ball era, this becomes
even more glaring, with Derek Dietrich the only
other player to even exceed 4% in that century long sample. To put that in perspective,
the average player in this time had only about a
0.63% chance of getting hit on each trip to the dish. But there are two seasons
in particular that demand closer inspection. The first is 2015. (dramatic bass plays) That year, Guyer got a
painful ride to first 6.23% of the time. Among players with at least
300 plate appearances, it was far and away the highest
mark in MLB that season. In fact, only three other
players were hit even half as frequently. My favorite part of his 2015
season, though, was in early August, when he was hit by a
pitch in four straight games. While impressive, that’s
not unprecedented. But what makes Guyer’s
streak so remarkable is that he only played the entirety
of one of those four games. In the first, his back leg
got clipped by this Chris Sale slider before getting
lifted in the 6th inning. He played all of the next
game, in the process absorbing this fastball to his front leg courtesy of Carlos Rodon. Upon returning home from Chicago, Guyer entered their subsequent
contest in the 7th inning to hit for Daniel
Nava, taking another fastball to that left
leg from Eric O’Flaherty. In the following night, he
was summoned in the 5th to hit for Nava, with this
errant Sean Gilmartin breaking ball grazing Guyer’s foot,
marking the only time anyone’s recorded pinch-hit-by-pitches
in back to back games. But Guyer’s 2015 season was
just a table-setter, an appetizer for the delicious, exquisitely
prepared, gourmet entree that was to come. Because as impressive as
getting hit once every 16 plate appearances is, that was only
good for the live-ball era’s 2nd-most proficient season of beaning. And that leads us to the next year. A year in which Guyer would
remove any and all doubt about his preternatural abilities. (dramatic bass plays) In that ensuing 2016 season,
despite missing most of June with a bum hammy, he was hit
by 20 pitches by the All-Star break. That was more than the entire
Cleveland organization. So, surely to boost those
numbers, they traded for him a few weeks later. He finished the year as
only the 5th player in the live-ball era to be hit by
more than 30 pitches in a season. In fact, despite being a
platoon player, missing a month with injury, and only
starting 80 games, he still finished the season having
been hit by nearly as many pitches as the Oakland A’s. – I decided to butt in here
and make another chart, because this is just obnoxious. Here we have the hit-by-pitch
totals of every other Major League Baseball team in 2016. Guyer, by himself, is down here. So, while he didn’t quite
eclipse any entire team all by himself, he did come really close. Thing is, these teams needed 6,000+ plate appearances to get here. An individual’s full
season measures around just 700 plate appearances. Guyer didn’t even get half that many. In just half a season, he
got hit roughly as often as many entire teams get
hit, across an entire season. – And with only 345 plate
appearances, that meant Guyer was hit every 11.1 times he
went up to bat, shattering the all-time record for
hit-by-pitch percentage at an exorbitant 8.99. – It’s nuts to me that a
rule meant to protect hitters like Guyer was actually
used by Guyer as a weapon. In this chart, we see the
on-base percentage of every batter in 2016 with a minimum
of 300 plate appearances. Brandon Guyer ranks 28th of
268, so he’s basically in the top tier, getting on base more
often than the vast majority of hitters. I mean, he’s right there
with Bryce Harper and Christian Yelich, and
better than the likes of Jose Bautista and Mookie Betts. But where do you think
he is without all his hit-by-pitches? By this I don’t just mean we
replace all his hit-by-pitches with outs, because that would be too easy. I mean we play it fair, we
take those plate appearances off the book like they never happened. If we do that, Guyer falls
all the way from number 28 to number 191. By virtue of his ability to
stand there and get smacked by a baseball, Brandon Guyer
ascended from one of the worst on-base hitters in baseball
to one of the very best. – Also in that 2016 season,
he had two particularly fun stretches. One was his first 60 plate
appearances of the year, during which he was hit
by a pitch 10 times. The other, was his encounters
with his former teammate, Boston’s David Price. On April 21st, part of the
aforementioned cluster, Price drilled Guyer with not
one, but two fastballs. In their June rematch,
Guyer responded by launching not one, but two extra
base hits off Price. And in their personal July
rubber match, Price again plunked Guyer with not one, but two more fastballs. There’s another eyepopping
element to Guyer’s 2016 season. In baseball, there are two
ways to reach first base without swinging the bat. One can either draw a
walk or be hit by a pitch. Any time someone gets to
take a leisurely stroll to first base, there’s
approximately a 93% chance it’s due to a walk. Guyer in 2016 reached base
without swinging the bat 50 times, meaning the
expected distribution would be that he drew roughly 46 and
a half walks, while being hit by three and a half pitches. But again, in reality that
hit-by-pitch number stood at 31, and was juxtaposed
against just 19 walks. Which means, absolutely
nothing about Guyer could be characterized as expected. For context, there have only
been two other instances in the live-ball era of a
player exceeding his walk total in hit-by-pitches. Guyer nearly doubled it. – If you’re looking for
weird people, this is how you strike gold. You correctly identify
the weirdness of Brandon Guyer’s career, and then you
try to find those who had careers like his. Let’s chart every player to
get hit at least 50 times as a percentage of all the
times they ever got on base for any reason. Does that make sense? The ones near the top are
the ones who, like Guyer, actually depended on the
hit-by-pitch as a way to get on base, turning it
into something more than a freak occurrence. These are the true beanball masters. This is where the weirdos are. It’s a pretty strange way
to play, so it makes sense to see so many completely bizarre stories. Here’s Tommy Tucker, who
in a game in 1894, got in a brawl with John McGraw. Who knows what really happened
for sure here, but it’s reported that fans were too
busy watching the fight to notice that somebody had started a fire in the stands. By the time the fire alarm
was pulled it was too late. The fire burned down the
stadium, as well as more than a hundred buildings in the area. Here’s Hughie Jennings,
who you could write a book about. Among a million other
things, Jennings once nose-dived into a swimming
pool and fractured his skull. Turned out, the pool was empty. He was ultimately fined and
played many more seasons of baseball after that. Here’s Dick Padden, whose
name is Dick Padden. Here’s Minnie Minoso, who
began his pro career in Cuba in 1943. He made it to the Majors
a few years later playing in the ’50s and ’60s. And the ’70s, when
he came back to play three more games at age 50. And the ’80s, when he
came back at age 54 for two more games. And the ’90s, when
he briefly played with the independent St. Ball
Saints at age 67 as a publicity stunt. And the 2000s, when he
joined the Saints again and drew a walk at age 77. Here’s Fernando Viña, a
decidedly average player who was great at getting
hit with everything, not just baseballs. Here he is fielding a
routine grounder to tag out Albert Belle. He recovered, and would go
on to appear in the “Welcome to Atlanta” remix video
with the Saint Lunatics for reasons known only to God. And here’s Kelly Shoppach,
who at age 32, finally stole the first and only
base of his career by running approximately 87 feet and then doing that. Here he slides like a
man who has never slid and has never seen anyone
slide, but has kinda had the act of sliding very
badly described to him. And the king of all these
strange people, is our buddy Brandon Guyer. An otherwise normal-seeming
person, who, to an extent baseball has never before
seen, willingly uses his own body as a human baseball bat. Alex and I would like to thank
you for watching Dorktown. If you missed the last
episode, the tragedy of the 2010 San Diego Chargers,
it’s just right up there up the street. And finally, if you own a
window-mounted air conditioning unit, I’d like to urge you
to remove it as cold weather approaches. The damage the cold can do
to your A/C unit is nothing compared to the spike in
your energy bill, since those things tend to leak a lot of heat. You’ll be glad you did.

100 thoughts on “Getting plunked by a baseball is a noble and painful art | Dorktown

  1. Dude would be my hero when I played little league. My coach would always make me lean in since I would probably strikeout in teeball.

  2. Good thing about watching these videos on a mobile device is that you can rotate the screen and read the bar charts more easily.

  3. This video doesn't mention the best thing abt Guyer which is that he got the nickname "La Piñata" for being hit so much.

  4. psst SB Nation hey it's me, generic viewer, you guys should hire our good pal foolish baseball because he would rock some dorktown episodes. also I wanna see his pixel art and Jon's google map stage.

  5. If home runs catch up to doubles just push out the fences. People on base and running to beat a tag is more fun to watch anyway

  6. When he said the thing about Acuñas age I realized that Juan Soto shouldn’t have been allowed to celebrate with the Nats in the locker room when they celebrated making the World Series because he’s only 20

  7. Wait…

    Anthony Rizzo? Anyone?

    I mean he's led the league in HBP pretty much every season he's played. In 2015 he became only the second player in MLB history to have 30HR/30HBP. He also led the league in 2017 and this past season. I know his rate isn't as high as Guyer's, but Rizzo legitimately has a shot to break 200 HBP in a couple seasons. He's already at 145.

  8. I kinda wish you had described how he was able to get hit by all these pitches. I mean, I assume he just kind of leaned in and refused to flinch back when a wild pitch came but it would still be interesting to know if he had any special strategies, where he preferred to take hits, did he wear a special elbow guard or whatever

  9. Technically, you have to make a move to avoid the ball when getting beaned. So leaning into a pitch isn't actually allowed and if called results in a strike. Not called often tho

  10. I just watched a 14 minute video showing me a million different charts essentially saying "this guy gets hit by pitches a lot"

  11. Aren't you out by rule if your foot comes out of the batter's box during a pitch? I think Hank Aaron lost a home run that way. Guyer seemed to do that against Price repeatedly.

  12. But, why? His stance? Was it intentional? A cheat? How did it affect his career? I don’t feel like I learned anything at all.

  13. I remember seeing the biggest hit-by-pitch screw up i've ever heard of. The game-winning run was brought in after the batter was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. I'd like to know how many times a game was decided like this. Also, if anyone wants to know, the game I was at was the White Sox @ Twins sometime in August 2017.

  14. Thanks, but my ac unit is very heavy and screwed into the wall and I will just cover it on the outside with a tarp to block out the air.

    The poor insulation in the rest of the house means that the unit doesn't affect my heating too much.

  15. Fernando Vina was my favorite player on the cardinals growing up, just cause if found him to just be odd and interesting. Plus he was a good defender and pitch extender.

  16. Where does Rizzo fall into this story? He's won the HBP title three times in the last 6 years and had over 30 in 2015

  17. I don't know if this would work better for Dorktown or Chart Party but I recommend a video about the best divisions in history. It could be interesting to look at past divisions where all the teams in it were good and how that went down.

  18. I could be wrong on this but isn't there three ways to reach first base without swinging the bat? Isn't there a dropped third strike rule where a runner can advance to first base if the catcher fails to catch the third strike? So, in theory, a batter could watch three straight strikes and on the third strike, the catcher drops the ball and the batter advances to first base. They may not have used this in their calculations as it would most likely just go in the book as a strikeout or something like that and it probably wouldn't affect OBP, but it is something that could potentially happen. Again, this could be totally wrong but I think it could be a possibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *