POLL: Prince Fielder and a Hit-By-Pitch

Prince Fielder ranks 12th among active players in hit-by-pitches, and you can spare us all the fat jokes because Reed Johnson ranks fifth. There are guys for whom getting hit is basically a skill, and this seems to be the case for Fielder, as he’s happy to find another way to reach base. Some of the balls that’ve hit him have hit him in the back. Some of the balls that’ve hit him have hit him in the butt. Some of the balls that’ve hit him have hit him in the elbow. Bringing us to a Prince Fielder HBP on Tuesday.

Fielder led off the bottom of the second inning against Dan Straily, and after falling behind 0-and-2, he got drilled by a fastball that ran up and in. The next guy struck out and the guy after that hit into a double play, so what happened to Fielder hardly mattered in the end, but this nevertheless seems like an excellent opportunity to gauge reader opinion on something.

Here’s the pitch:

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An excerpt from the ensuing conversation on TBS:

Eckersley: That ball’s not that far inside, he almost throws his elbow at it. You see, Prince — he did. He could have got out of the way of that ball, but, might as well just take it there. Get something going for Detroit, it doesn’t matter how you do it.

Martinez: Yeah, he had plenty of opportunity to get out of the way of that. He knew what he was doing. He needed to get on base and get something going.

An excerpt from baseball’s official rules:

The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when —
[…]
(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;
If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.

This is a rule lots of people know about, but it’s also a rule that’s almost never ever enforced. When it is enforced, it seems arbitrary, like the umpire’s involving himself just for the sake of involving himself. I wish the rule were enforced, and after Fielder got hit I expressed as much on Twitter. Then someone responded with a question I hadn’t thought about before: why is this a rule? Why should there need to be an attempt to avoid? Obviously there needs to be some kind of rule to prevent strikes from being hit-by-pitches, and to prevent hitters from getting in the way on purpose, but there’s a difference between trying to get hit and trying to not get hit. In this case, it looks like Fielder kind of dropped his elbow in the path, but that pitch was at least going to hit his jersey had he not moved. He didn’t move, and by the letter of the law that should’ve just been a ball, but. But, now I’m thinking about this a lot, and I wanted to get an idea of reader opinion. So there is a poll right here!



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Scott
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Scott
2 years 8 months ago

I don’t think that is as bad as Victorino late in last night’s game. However given the amount of pain Victorino looked to be in, I doubt it he tried to get hit. It was more a product of his standing over the plate with his arms in the strike zone.

Bob
Guest
Bob
2 years 8 months ago

Agree – can we get a GIF of the Victorino one? I remember thinking that his swing motion put him in the path of the ball, and I think this happens fairly often – a batter naturally starts the swing motion and gets plunked when his arms/elbow move out further over the plate than they were prior to the start of the swing. Those are the situations that frustrate me, as I don’t think they should entitle the batter to a base since the ball wouldn’t have hit them had they not actually moved into the path of the ball. Moreover, this understandably is more likely to happen to a batter who crowds the plate.

MustBunique
Member
Member
2 years 8 months ago

I agree Victorino should be looked at. I disagree with your logic. If a batter begins his swing motion before recognizing that the pitch will hit him and then the momentum of starting his swing carries him into the pitch he should not have to take a ball instead of a HBP. That’s similar to saying any batter who begins to swing at a pitched ball and does not make contact regardless of completing his swing or not should be charged a strike regardless of pitch location because he bagan his swing. I really think it boils down to intent and the umpire’s interpretation of the batter’s intent. A player who begins his swing may or may not intend to be struck by a pitch, but beginning his swing should not be the determining factor.

Barves
Guest
Barves
2 years 8 months ago

Against the blue jays this year Victorino got hit by a pitch that pitchtracks showed in the strike zone.

Bob
Guest
Bob
2 years 8 months ago

I don’t understand how my point relates to the scenario you describe. My point is that when the batter’s movement post-pitch (taking him closer to the strike zone and often out of the batter’s box) is directly responsible for him getting hit, that doesn’t seem like something that should earn the batter first base. You could even say that’s rewarding the batter for misjudging an inside pitch. How is that “similar to saying any batter who begins to swing at a pitched ball and does not make contact regardless of completing his swing or not should be charged a strike regardless of pitch location because he began his swing.” Those scenarios – checked swings – have their own rules governing them and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some are very close and difficult to judge even with slow-mo replays, others are clear-cut one way or the other. I’m suggesting that perhaps HBPs should be treated similarly rather than how they are today, with pretty much any and every plunk or graze earning the hitter a free pass to first. It’s one thing to get beaned in the back. It’s another to not move away from a ball that’s actually in the strike zone. And it’s yet another to get hit when starting a swing takes you into that grey area between the strike zone and batter’s box.

MustBunique
Member
Member
2 years 8 months ago

Bob, what you have described in your second post is different than the way you described your opinion in your first post, and I tend to agree with your notion for treating each instance on a case-by-case basis subject to appeal. I also agree that players that intentionally move into a pitch should be given a ball, not a HBP. My reply was simply to point out that a player’s intent should not be tied to, “a batter naturally starts the swing motion.”

Henry
Guest
Henry
2 years 8 months ago

I don’t think the batter should be required to make an active attempt to avoid the baseball. However, he should absolutely be penalized for intentionally making a movement to ensure his getting hit by the baseball. What happened to “Taking one for the team?”

here goes nothing
Guest
here goes nothing
2 years 8 months ago

This is explicitly for guys with those huge elbow guards. A two at-bat sequence I pitched made an indelible impression. Huge dude all over the plate. First time I come inside, he drops the elbow and is on first base. Second time, I drop it just beyond the elbow range and it’s a home run down the left field line. It totally messes up the dynamic.

Steve Holt
Guest
Steve Holt
2 years 8 months ago

I seem to remember that Brandon Barnes from the Astros got drilled in August sometime, then not awarded the base on the premise that he made not attempt to get out of the way of the baseball.

I got no problem with what the rule it, it just needs to be consistently enforced.

CircleChange11
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

Fielder pulled his elbow in, away from the plate.

If batters Are required to jump out of the way of inside pitches then every picture will pitch inside knowing that the better Hassted get out-of-the-way and then follow that up with an inside to Ceemar the runs across the plate. If right-handed batters have to get out of the way of every inside pitch from right-handed pitchers, then pictures will throw fastballs and off the plate knowing that the batter has to get out of the way and follow that up with backdoor sliders.

Batters have to hold their ground.

0-2 pitch, dont throw in off the plate to where the batter can take an HBP.

Batters should not be required to make an attempt to get out of the way.

BR
Guest
BR
2 years 8 months ago

He clearly drops his elbow in order to get hit, knowing he was protected. Amateur move on Fielders part.

Beaneater
Guest
Beaneater
2 years 8 months ago

He *might* have dropped his elbow in order to get hit, but I wouldn’t say he *clearly* did so. My first reaction on seeing the gif was that he was saw the pitch coming toward him and clenched his elbows in a sort of startle reaction. Maybe I’m right, maybe you are. Not sure how umps are supposed to judge this.

asdfasdf
Guest
asdfasdf
2 years 8 months ago

I would say it was quite the professional move.

jj
Guest
jj
2 years 8 months ago

I think their should be something about where the ball is when it hits the batter. it seems that if it is in the batters box that it should be called a HBP no matter what. If the ball is inside but not in the box, then I think the player needs to get out of the way.

Interesting
Guest
Interesting
2 years 8 months ago

It looks to me that it might have hit him anyways. Is the action to be disregarded in that case, even if the player is culpable?

Kyle Lobner
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

This is also my point. It looks like this pitch might have hit Fielder in the ribs if he hadn’t moved his elbow. Getting hit in the elbow hurts, but getting hit in the ribs is a much greater injury risk. So it is possible Fielder was protecting himself, not trying to get hit?

Dylan
Guest
Dylan
2 years 8 months ago

He pulls his arm in, away from the plate. Sure, he might have pulled it into the ball on purpose, but there’s no way to prove that. The fact that he pulled his arm in towards his body makes it a legitimate HBP to me.

byron
Member
byron
2 years 8 months ago

Agreed, it looks like a totally plausible flinching movement.

Catoblepas
Guest
Catoblepas
2 years 8 months ago

yeah, judging intent when someone, who is trying to gear themselves up to hit a small hard ball traveling 90+ mph, instead has to react to that ball coming at their squishy body parts, seems very difficult. Calling someone out for trying to get hit seems way easier than calling someone out for not flinching in the right direction.

CircleChange11
Guest
2 years 8 months ago

Not just that, but as a batter you should also have the right to move to a position to take the HBP in a location that hurts less, such as taking it on the upper arm and not the hand/wrist … or taking it in the shoulder or lat and not in the ribs.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 8 months ago

I agree. It looks like a natural reaction to brace himself for the fact that a ball’s about to hit him. It’s not like he threw his elbow out toward the plate. He stiffened his body up to protect against the pain from being hit.

Legitimate HBP.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 8 months ago

Seems like a tough standard to say a hitter made NO attempt to avoid being hit. Basically, if you stand like a statue or blatantly move toward the ball, you are guilty of this. My gut tells me Fielder was trying to get hit, but a person trying to avoid getting hit might bring their arm in the way Fielder did. An attempt to get out of the way does not require performing the correct body movement to make that attempt most likely to succeed.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 8 months ago

Exactly. Something is coming at me fast, I suck all my arm parts up against my body, (what fielder did) automatically, even though it might be the wrong move. The arms up, extended, throw your hips back move is much more unnatural.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 8 months ago

Not to mention, you’re probably more likely to get seriously injured trying to wrench your body completely out of the way than just taking the hit. A guy of Prince Fielder’s build is much better equipped to take a hit than to quickly fling his torso out of the way of things.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 8 months ago

Thing is, if Fielder lift his arms clear out of the way, the ball would graze his oversized jersey.

Not a fat joke. Really, look how loose his uniform is at the belly level. And hitting the jersey, however loose, is still a HBP by the rule book.

Derek Jeter
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Derek Jeter
2 years 8 months ago

Note to self: borrow CC’s jersey next season.

ajones2522
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ajones2522
2 years 8 months ago

I like the rule and wish it were enforced more. There are some players who view a HBP as just another avenue to reach base. This rule was probably meant to minimize that, and considering the rule isn’t enforced, that probably why we have lots of players who view it the way they do.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 8 months ago

So why is it bad to reach base that way? I don’t see any real reason for the “must try to get out of the way” part of HBPs, if anything it would encourage pitchers to actually throw strikes. I’d advocate an automatic out for players that lean in though.

ajones2522
Guest
ajones2522
2 years 8 months ago

To reward the skill of hitting the baseball over the skill of standing there and getting hit with a pitch.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 8 months ago

What about punishing the lack of skill that a pitcher demonstrates by not throwing a pitch that could involve hitting? We already tell the batter “take your base” after the pitcher throws four “non-hittable” balls (that was the idea behind the strike zone) – why not give a free base when the pitcher somehow misses by so much that they hit the batter? It only punishes a lack of skill, while walks are a combined pitcher punishment/hitter selection reward, but I’d be ok with that.

ajones2522
Guest
ajones2522
2 years 8 months ago

In the case where a pitcher throws a ball poorly enough that a hitter has to move, but not poorly enough that he couldn’t get out of the way, the punishment is, and should be, one ball. Because of the lack of enforcement of this rule today, a pitcher can throw the same pitch to different hitters, both demonstrating the same lack of skill, and the punishment for one pitch is ball one while the punishment for the other pitch is a baserunner.

wally
Guest
wally
2 years 8 months ago

And to avoid injury.

This isn’t much different than players blocking bases without the ball from an injury perspective. Sure, it helps your team and its your choice to put yourself in harms way, but personally, I’d rather not see players doing things that get themselves hurt just to try to win.

Plus, the manly-macho-bs tends to reward this kind of team over personal health behavior, so without rules specifically prohibiting it, players will feel pressure to participate.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 8 months ago

I kinda like this. It accomplishes a lot without too much judgment needed. Also, must enforce the batter’s box.

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
2 years 8 months ago

Fielder probably could have gotten out of the way of that, but to me it doesn’t clearly look like he moved into it. Dodging a major league fastball when you are anticipating something over the plate isn’t exactly easy.

At least Fielder isn’t wearing an oversized Barry Bonds/Jason Kendall elbow guard. That’s what should be banned.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 8 months ago

Why ban gear that keeps players from being injured? Are you more entertained by players on the DL? This macho business of “it only counts as a HBP if it really hurts” is really stupid. Give them an automatic out for leaning into one over the plate, but don’t ban the equipment that keeps players on the field.

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
2 years 8 months ago

Did you ever see the elbow guards that Kendall and Bonds wore? It literally doubled the size of their elbows. I’m fine with a small elbow guard that protects a player, but when a piece of gear completely eliminates any chance of a pitcher throwing a up and in fastball, there is something wrong.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 8 months ago

Truth be told, I don’t really think that we should be encouraging “purpose pitches.” Read some of MGL’s stuff to learn more, but basically those are wasted pitches – they don’t actually do anything to a hitter. Challenge your assumptions, think about why somebody who has literally seen 1000’s of pitches would suddenly forget how to hit because somebody “brushed you off the plate.”

Recent post that touches on the subject:
http://baseballsolutions.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/do-ex-pitchers-understand-how-to-pitch/

Basically, I’m all for the death of like 99% of the macho bullshit in the game, and stuff like “up and in fastballs” happens to be part of that. Totally legitimate to disagree with me, but don’t make it into a “you don’t know the implications of what you suggest” thing. I know damn well that players will walk up there like medieval knights if we let them, and that will prevent pitchers from brushing people back, etc. But those parts of the game need to die anyways.

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich
2 years 8 months ago

It’s not a “macho bullshit” thing at all. If a pitcher usually lives on the outer half of the plate, batters will adjust and approach the at bat differently. Without the fastball up and in nothing prevents a batter from leaning over the plate to extend on an outside pitch.

Ron
Guest
Ron
2 years 8 months ago

Injuries overall are not good for the game. Even if it is a player who might not be a star or popular player. The rule is probably partially there to limit injuries even if that wasn’t the intent of the rule.

I want to see the rule enforced much more. However, it is very difficult, players sometimes knowing they can’t get out of the way sometimes turn into a pitch so it will hit them in the back or shoulder to protect elbows, forearms and hands. Simply umpires should be encouraged to enforce the current rule more often and trained in how to enforce it.

Ron
Guest
Ron
2 years 8 months ago

As long as it is a guy like Fielder getting on base is a bad thing for the team because he is just “clogging up the bases.”

Slow runner reference not fat joke.

Helladecimal
Guest
Helladecimal
2 years 8 months ago

Yes, the rule should be enforced.

The batter must make at least a recognizable, feeble attempt to remove himself from the flight path of the baseball. This has implications broader than its impact on the delicate competitive balance between pitcher and hitter.

It affects intentional beaning. It is much easier to determine that a pitch was “intended” to hit a target when the batter reacts naturally to a ball flying at him. If the pitcher intends to hit the batter, he will likely have succeeded in doing so even if the batter moves to avoid the pitch. If the pitcher intended to hit the batter but missed due to evasion, he will likely try again, and it will be obvious.

AK7007
Member
AK7007
2 years 8 months ago

This sounds crazy. “Trying again” is beyond intentional, it’s outright assault.

James
Guest
James
2 years 8 months ago

Alex Rodriguez agrees with you

Ryan Dempster
Guest
Ryan Dempster
2 years 8 months ago

Shut it, A-Rod. I just have bad control. Now step back into the box and take your medicine… and I don’t mean the kind you get from an unregulated clinic.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 8 months ago

Does this make Towers’ firing Nagy illegal? He’s advocating assault, or really conspiracy to commit assault, and firing Nagy for not doing that. In most states, even right to work states, you can’t fire someone for refusing to break the law. If MLB does not get involved, they should be pressured. This is utter horse shit.

Mister
Guest
Mister
2 years 8 months ago

I think the problem with the current rule, and the reason why it’s not enforced, is that it’s usually impossible to tell whether the hitter tried to get out of the way. This HBP is a perfect example. Fielder is not exactly a nimble guy. This may very well be him trying to get out of the way, and just being bad at it. I can’t tell whether he’s moving his elbow into the ball, or just trying to pinch it in toward his body to get out of the way. Another alternative is that all he was doing was bracing himself for impact, because it was too late to get out of the way.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 8 months ago

I don’t really care much for the “must get out of the way” rule, but I understand why it is there, so that players don’t just throw themselves at the pitch. I am pretty sure it’d get called if, say, Prince threw his belly forward to try and get the hit. I don’t really think there’s much reason to do more than try and stop guys throwing themselves at the pitch: What’s wrong with a player using a new way to get on base?

I think the HBP in this case is legitimate because if Fielder completes his movement, he’d have turned his body around and done a common “effort” move to miss the hBP. There’s not enough conclusive evidence to say he didn’t at least try to avoid, so you should award the HBP.

Neil Bronson
Guest
Neil Bronson
2 years 8 months ago

When a pitch coming in at 90+ mph could be a four-seam fastball or a two-seam fastball, you can’t start backing out as soon as it looks like it’s coming at you. You don’t register the movement until the very end, where it would be too late to get out of the way if it was a four-seamer. This is why umpires don’t enforce the rule; it’s very hard to show they weren’t worried about getting hit versus waiting for break on a pitch with movement.

Samuel
Guest
Samuel
2 years 8 months ago

I hate to use that “if you’ve never been there” arguments, but it’s true that you guess it’s going to be a two-seamer or four-seamer. You often don’t have the luxury of waiting until you can distinguish between pitches to decide to get out of the way. When a hitter doesn’t distinguish a slider right away, they can watch it down the middle without swinging. But despite knowing the pitch started its trajectory at them, they still don’t get out of the way. They have to be prepared for it.

Brad
Guest
Brad
2 years 8 months ago

The point missed in the blog and all the responses is… What if he thought this was a slider or change up? How many times have you seen a batter swing at the inside pitch because he thought it was going to stay high and then it drop off the table and they miss it by a foot (Reddick vs Scherzer last night). Fielder could have anticipated the ball was going to drop and then it didn’t. You can’t assume he knew it was going to hit him.

Victorino (4 HBP in 4 games) on the other hand seems to be sitting on the plate. If I was the manager in the next series, make a point before the game that a pitch in the strike zone that hits him is a strike.

Softballer
Guest
Softballer
2 years 8 months ago

ASA softball recently changed its rule to eliminate the obligation to try to avoid. The idea is that the batter owns the batters box, so if the pitch is in there she doesn’t have to move. A pitch that is in the strike zone is of course a strike. But I think batters hit by a ball that is barely inside shouldn’t get a base. So if it’s not over the line for the batters box, it’s just a ball, not a HBP. Victorino and marte are ridiculous.

Daniel Heller
Guest
Daniel Heller
2 years 8 months ago

Fielder’s feet look like they’re very close to the plate as well. In the last frame of the GIF animation, you can see his shoes extending over what appears to be the inner line of the batter’s box. Maybe if the batter’s feet aren’t within the batter’s box and he doesn’t move them, he shouldn’t be awarded a HPB?

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
2 years 8 months ago

One of the most famous calls of “The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball” is during Drysdale’s shutout streak in 1968. I remember Dick Dietz of the Giants got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, the ump rules he didn’t try get out of the way and waved it off. Dietz made an out and Drysdale’s streak continued.

Philbert
Guest
Philbert
2 years 8 months ago

The only time I remember seeing the rule applied was a few years ago when Vance Wilson was called back after being hit against the Jays. In his first PA, he threw his elbow at a pitch and got first base. In his second PA, his knees buckled on a breaking ball so he stuck his elbow out again as the pitch broke away from him and got hit for a second time. The look of indignation on his face when the ump called him back was priceless.

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 8 months ago

I think the rule has two ideas behind

1. To prevent pitchers actively throwing at batters.
2. To punish pitchers for throwing so far inside that it intimidates a hitter.
3. To compensate hitters for the pain.

So basically I think if pitcher was trying to paint the edge or just inside while the hitter makes no effort to get out of the way, it should be a strike. If is way inside, where a a normal batter would be standing, you can take it. This prevents pitchers from throwing at hitters that stand close to the plate.

Basically the pitcher’s intent matters.

Nick Coleman
Guest
Nick Coleman
2 years 8 months ago

That was a legitimate HBP, and even so I don’t support the rule?

First time I saw this was the GIF above and it is the natural reaction to drop your arm to protect your ribs. Also, you can see he is turning his body away from the pitch (which also leads to a natural elbow drob) but keeping his eye on the ball which lends support to the he meant to put his elbow in front of the pitch.

I certainly think the rule should prevent batters from moving into the pitch but not require them to move out of the way. If a pitcher doesn’t want to give up a base do not throw the ball at the batter, that’s simple enough isn’t it? Batting is hard enough on it’s own without having to think about avoiding some pitches while hitting others.

Also strikes should be strikes no matter if the ball hits the batter or not.

Chris Johnson
Guest
Chris Johnson
2 years 8 months ago

“Trying to get hit in the arm” can also mean “trying to make sure you don’t get hit in the ribs you’re covering with that arm”. I’m fine with the rule being enforced only on active unnatural movements (i.e. not the start of a swing) into the way of a ball that obviously wasn’t going to hit you otherwise.

lex logan
Guest
lex logan
2 years 8 months ago

It seems to me the rule should involve the batter’s box: any pitch in the batter’s box ought to grant a base. Any pitch outside the box ought not: you crowd the plate at your own risk. I never played so feel free to offer an appropriate modification, but it just doesn’t seem like the sport needs to protect batters leaning out toward the plate.

Cybo
Guest
Cybo
2 years 8 months ago

“”Related/spinoff idea: what would be your ideal HBP rule?””

The way its worded now minus section “(2)”. A batter should have a right to his batters box. If he’s man enough to take a bean ball then let him have his base I say.

Now on the other side of the coin, if he’s crowding so close to the plate that his arm, elbow, hand, etc., enter the strike zone and thus get hit by a pitch I feel this should be ruled a foul in this situation.

AJ
Guest
AJ
2 years 8 months ago

I don’t think he got hit on purpose here. He saw that he was about to get hit on the elbow and he dropped his arm so that it hit muscle instead of bone. It’s a natural defensive reaction to brace for contact and getting hit on the tip of your elbow would hurt like hell.

Phil
Guest
Phil
2 years 8 months ago

An ideal HBP rule would take into account whether the batter was in position to hit a ball in the zone. Alot of HBPs occur where the batter moves his hands or elbows so far in they basically have no swing at anything in the inner half – to me that should not be a HBP

Da Bear
Guest
Da Bear
2 years 8 months ago

Another part of the ideal rule: If you get a HBP (subject to whatever restrictions may be placed on counting as such) on ball 4, the batter should be awarded 2nd base.

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