The 2022 New York Mets Were Born to Break the HBP Record
Early this season, the 2022 New York Mets wasted no time in making known their displeasure over how frequently their batters were being hit by pitches. Through their first nine games, Mets hitters got plunked 12 times, which, to be fair, is a bit ridiculous. But it was only nine games.
Now, 145 games later, the Mets are the proud owner of the modern team record for HBPs. League-leader Mark Canha got hit twice last Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers, but it was his teammate Luis Guillorme who got the record-breaker on a pitch down and in in the ninth inning of a game the Brewers were leading 6-0. Since then, the Mets have been hit four more times and now stand at 110 HBPs with eight games to go, plenty of time to put even more distance between themselves and the 2021 Cincinnati Reds, who got 105 bruises.
Mets manager Buck Showalter says he has a theory as to what’s behind all the HBPs, but he won’t reveal what it is. Let me share with you mine: The 2022 Mets lineup is comprised of guys who don’t mind taking one for the team. Twelve squads in MLB history have been hit 94 or more times, and three of them are the New York Mets of 2022, 2021, and 2019. And during Covid-shortened 2020, the Metropolitans were hit 45 times in 60 games, putting them on pace for an astronomical 122 HBPs. Over the past four seasons they’ve finished first, fourth, second and first in the majors, and have led all teams in the aggregate with 337 HBPs, 28 more than the second-place Reds.
So is the Mets lineup stacked with Rudi Steins or unwitting victims? Let’s run down the team-leaders in HBPs
- Mark Canha, 26: Last year he led the Majors with 27 HBPs while a member of the Oakland A’s, this year he again paces the bigs. He also twice finished second in the league while with the A’s.
- Brandon Nimmo, 16: Has no shot at his career high of 22, set in 2018.
- Starling Marte, 13: Currently on the injured list, Marte has reached or surpassed this total six other times in his career, including five times while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. From 2013 to 2016, Marte averaged 19 HBPs, with a career best 24 in 2013.
- Pete Alonso, 12: Has tied his 2021 total, but is nine short of his career high of 21 in 2019.
- Jeff McNeil, 11: He’s a year removed from being hit 10 times in 113 fewer plate appearances, and three years removed from being plunked 21 times. He came into the season having been hit an average of 17 times per 162 games.
- Francisco Lindor, 10: Of the top six targets on the 2022 Mets, Lindor is the only one who has been hit more than often than usual. One HBP was with the bases loaded; two were with a man on first and one out; one was with a man on first and no outs in a 2-2 game; another was with two on and none out in the first inning of a scoreless game; another led off the third inning when the Mets were up 3-0—that’s six HBPs that were almost certainly accidental.
Those six guys have accounted for 88 of the team’s total of HBPs in 3,545 plate appearances, a rate of 16.1 per 650 plate appearances. The rest of the club, meanwhile, went to the dish 2,332 times and got hit 22 times, a rate of 6.1/650, well below the league average of 7.3/650.
Overall, the Mets are clearly getting hit more often than their peers, but the people taking the majority of the lumps are guys, with the lone exception of Lindor, who have an established track record of doing just that. Maybe there's a more sinister reason behind all the nicked Mets, but if history is any guide, that's just how these Mets like to play the game. Which, hey, is fine, but quit bitching about it.
Stats courtesy Baseball Reference