Watching the Detroit series over the past couple of days, it occurred to me that one of the more impressive things about this season’s Yankee team has been its self control. The Yankees have been thrown at with some frequency, and they have generally taken their lumps and moved on without too much in the way of retaliation, satisfied just to win a ball game. At least this has been my perception.
And the numbers support it. The Yankees have in fact been hit more than any other team: 44 times. Conversely, Yankee pitchers have only hit 29 opposing batters. That’s an extremely large differential percentage-wise, and may explain why Joe and his troops are starting to get a little testy. It’s also worth noting that this is a major change from 2003, when the Yankees were plunked only 49 times for the entire year, the fewest in the league. (Can we crack this up to the Clemens Intimidation Effect? Possibly, but if so, you’d expect a comparable dip in the Astros’ numbers this year, and there isn’t one.)
There are, of course, some pretty good reasons why the Yankees are getting hit at a higher rate than any other club:
-They are the best team, and that means a lot of frustrated opponents and lopsided games
-They hit a lot of home runs
-At least one Yankee pitcher has a “soft” reputation (Moose)
-Certain Yankees might be regarded as showboats
-Several Yankee players either crowd or dive in toward the plate
-They play the Sox and the DRays 19 times each (these teams lead MLB in hitting opponents by a wide margin)
-Yankee pitchers are more talented (ie, they don’t accidentally hit as many opponents)
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to sympathize with the Yankee hittees (not to mention Yankee management), who might rightly argue that:
-Getting hit hurts
-Getting hit can cause serious injury
-Financially it’s dangerous for the player, the team, and the league
-The reward for achievement should not be physical abuse
There’s no reason that intentionally hitting opponents should be a part of the game, and there’s certainly no excuse for head hunting. Which is what instigated this whole incident with the Tigers. Esteban Yan threw at A-Rod’s head.
Finally, opponents who take it upon themselves to throw at one of the Bombers should take note of the newest sponsor on WCBS’s Yankee radio broadcasts: The Johnnie Cochrane Firm. 1-800-7-ACCIDENT. He’ll be in touch.