UPDATE: A version of this story appeared on tampabay.com earlier in the week. In Brandon Guyer's first plate appearance of the World Series, Cubs starter Jon Lester struck him with a 90 mph pitch. In his five other plate appearances, Guyer has one hit, two walks and two strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo has not been hit by a pitch this postseason.
For all the talk of suffering heading the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, little has been said about the pain a couple of players have endured in recent seasons.
We're talking about Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer, whom Cleveland acquired in an August trade with the Rays, and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Since the start of the 2014 season, no player has been hit by pitches more often than Guyer and Rizzo.
Guyer has been hit a major-league-high 66 times in that span, while Rizzo has been hit 61 times, second-most. Guyer led baseball this season with 31 HBPs, the most since Pirates catcher Jason Kendall also had 31 in 1998. Rizzo led baseball last season with 30 HBPs. He was hit 16 times this season, fifth-most.
To be plunked more than 60 times over three seasons is remarkable in itself, but even more astounding is that Guyer has been hit five more times than Rizzo and yet has about half as many plates appearances (1,024 to Rizzo's 1,993).
In fact, through his five-season career, Guyer has been hit like no player in baseball history. He has been plunked once every 16.3 plate appearances.
No one else comes close. Hughie Jennings, who played from 1891 to 1903, is second with a hit-by-pitch rate of once every 19.6 appearances. Ron Hunt, who led baseball in HBPs seven times, was hit once every 25.3. Don Baylor, who also led seven times, was hit once every 35.2. Craig Biggio, who led five times, was hit once every 43.9. Rizzo has been hit once every 43.3.
Rizzo, a left-handed hitter, stands closer to the plate than Guyer, his back foot on the chalk of the batter's box and his hands out over the inside part of home plate. Guyer, a right-handed hitter, stands in the middle of the box, but when he takes his stride, his front foot lands on the chalk of the box.
Pitchers often hit Rizzo's arms or back. Guyer is a bit of an anomaly. Pitchers tend to hit his lower half, in part because of his stride. When they throw an offspeed pitch inside, he just doesn't budge. He's content to let it hit him in the thigh so he can take his base.
This World Series is the first since 1979 in which each team's roster features a player who finished the regular season in the top five in hit-by-pitches. In the 1979 series, the eventual champion Pirates had outfielder Dave Parker (nine HBPs) and the Orioles had outfielder Gary Roenicke (12).
The Philadelphia Phillies, who beat the Rays in the 2008 World Series, are the last champion to roster the major-league leader in hit-by-pitches. Second baseman Chase Utley was hit 27 times that season. He leads all active players with 190 HBPs.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.