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  • Meanest pitcher in baseball...

    This morning I was wondering who was the meanest, nastiest headhunter in baseball history. Today, Julian Tavarez has that rep. My generation gave the award to either Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson. Earlier folks would have mentioned Early Wynn, and the tragic case of Ray Chapman has always been the main, but not only, case against Carl Mays.

    I set up a little spreadsheet based upon the raw data of the top 100 HBP numbers in baseball history. As expected, the raw numbers feature mostly pitchers who threw a lot of innings, with an overly large proportion of knuckleballers and wild men. So I normalized the stats to HBP/9innings pitched and got a list of the guys who were the leaders in this dubious genre.

    NAME HBP IP HBP/9IP
    Ed Doheny* 132 1392.7 0.853
    Cy Seymour* 84 1029 0.735
    Jack Warhop 114 1412.7 0.726
    Jamey Wright 117 1503 0.701
    Chan Ho Park 126 1750.7 0.648
    Julian Tavarez 90 1286 0.630
    Jeff Weaver 113 1652 0.616
    Matt Clement 94 1412.7 0.599
    Cy Morgan 95 1445.3 0.592
    Tommy Byrne* 85 1362 0.562
    Willie Sudhoff 126 2086.3 0.544
    Ed Willett 106 1773.3 0.538
    Tim Wakefield 150 2563.3 0.527
    Harry McIntire 96 1650 0.524
    Jakie May* 88 1562.3 0.507
    Barney Pelty 107 1908 0.505
    Darryl Kile 117 2165.3 0.486
    Nixey Callahan 86 1603 0.483
    Joe McGinnity+ 182 3441.3 0.476
    Chick Fraser 177 3356 0.475
    Aaron Sele 111 2137 0.467
    Pedro Astacio 111 2196.7 0.455
    Al Leiter* 117 2391 0.440
    Pedro Martinez 129 2645.7 0.439
    Howard Ehmke 137 2820.7 0.437
    Bill Duggleby 84 1741 0.434
    Jesse Tannehill* 130 2750.3 0.425
    Randy Johnson* 182 3855.3 0.425
    Togie Pittinger 96 2040.7 0.423
    Lefty Leifield* 85 1838 0.416
    Don Cardwell 98 2122.7 0.416
    Charlie Hough 174 3801.3 0.412
    Don Drysdale+ 154 3432 0.404
    Frank Lary 97 2162.3 0.404
    Dave Stieb 129 2895.3 0.401
    Jack Billingham 98 2230.7 0.395
    Scott Erickson 103 2360.7 0.393
    Jeff Pfeffer 105 2407.3 0.393
    Eddie Plank+* 196 4495.7 0.392
    Kevin Brown 139 3256.3 0.384
    Jim Lonborg 105 2464.3 0.383
    Jim Bunning+ 160 3760.3 0.383
    Mike Boddicker 87 2123.7 0.369
    Ed Reulbach 107 2632.3 0.366
    Rube Waddell+* 117 2961.3 0.356
    Tom Hughes 104 2644 0.354
    Vic Willis+ 157 3996 0.354
    Doc White* 119 3041 0.352
    Jack Chesbro+ 113 2896.7 0.351
    Earl Moore 106 2776 0.344
    Kenny Rogers* 118 3098.7 0.343
    Jack Coombs 88 2320 0.341
    Harry Howell 97 2567.7 0.340
    Rube Benton* 95 2517.3 0.340
    Tully Sparks 88 2335.7 0.339
    Orel Hershiser 117 3130.3 0.336
    Win Mercer 92 2470.3 0.335
    David Cone 106 2898.7 0.329
    George Uhle 113 3119.7 0.326
    Hooks Dauss 121 3390.7 0.321
    George Mullin 131 3686.7 0.320
    Jack Taylor 92 2617 0.316
    Joe Coleman 90 2569.3 0.315
    Walter Johnson+ 203 5914.7 0.309
    Red Donahue 101 2966.3 0.306
    John Burkett 90 2648.3 0.306
    Sam Leever 90 2660.7 0.304
    Chief Bender+ 102 3017 0.304
    Jamie Moyer* 117 3488.7 0.302
    Pink Hawley 98 3012.7 0.293
    Roger Clemens 155 4882 0.286
    Tom Candiotti 85 2725 0.281
    Bert Blyleven 155 4970 0.281
    Hippo Vaughn* 85 2730 0.280
    Frank Tanana* 129 4188.3 0.277
    Bill Donovan 91 2964.7 0.276
    Dennis Martinez 122 3999.7 0.275
    Clark Griffith+ 102 3385.7 0.271
    Carl Mays 89 3021.3 0.265
    Nolan Ryan+ 158 5386 0.264
    Wilbur Cooper* 100 3480 0.259
    Lee Meadows 90 3160.7 0.256
    Earl Whitehill* 101 3564.7 0.255
    Jack Powell 121 4389 0.248
    Greg Maddux 129 4747 0.245
    Jim Kaat* 122 4530.3 0.242
    Kid Nichols+ 133 5056.3 0.237
    Bob Gibson+ 102 3884.3 0.236
    Mickey Lolich* 92 3638.3 0.228
    Gus Weyhing 109 4324.3 0.227
    Red Faber+ 103 4086.7 0.227
    Rick Reuschel 88 3548.3 0.223
    Jack Quinn 94 3920.3 0.216
    Burleigh Grimes+ 97 4180 0.209
    Phil Niekro+ 123 5404.3 0.205
    Cy Young+ 163 7354.7 0.199
    Tommy John* 98 4710.3 0.187
    Gaylord Perry+ 108 5350.3 0.182
    Tim Keefe+ 96 5047.7 0.171
    Fergie Jenkins+ 84 4500.7 0.168

    Now, this list had some interesting members. Ed Doheny hit as many batters in a game as Paul Byrd walks batters. Don Drysdale did hit a lot of batters, while Bob Gibson hit about as many as Mickey Lolich. Nolan Ryan, the pitcher who walked more batters than anybody, was definitely not a headhunter.

    But I thought that a more interesting list would be one where the true headhunters showed up. A HBP is, in a way, a wild pitch. It's never in a pitcher's best interests to throw a wild pitch. It's never intentional. So a pitcher with a lot of HBP and not very many Wp - well, it shows premeditation to me. In my opinion, a true headhunter would be a pitcher with a high HBP count and a low WP count. I realize that WP is influenced by the quality of the team's catcher, and by the discretion of the scorekeeper who can also call a PB. But it's still a pretty good rule of thumb, I think.

    NAME HBP WP HBP/WP
    Jack Warhop 114 13 8.769
    Harry McIntire 96 14 6.857
    Joe McGinnity+ 182 30 6.067
    Lefty Leifield* 85 17 5.000
    Howard Ehmke 137 28 4.893
    Jesse Tannehill* 130 28 4.643
    Willie Sudhoff 126 30 4.200
    Bill Duggleby 84 22 3.818
    Red Donahue 101 27 3.741
    Tully Sparks 88 24 3.667
    Jeff Weaver 113 33 3.424
    Jim Bunning+ 160 47 3.404
    Jeff Pfeffer 105 34 3.088
    Tommy Byrne* 85 28 3.036
    Jakie May* 88 31 2.839
    John Burkett 90 33 2.727
    Carl Mays 89 34 2.618
    Barney Pelty 107 42 2.548
    Dave Stieb 129 51 2.529
    Hooks Dauss 121 48 2.521
    Earl Whitehill* 101 43 2.349
    Julian Tavarez 90 39 2.308
    Jack Taylor 92 40 2.300
    Wilbur Cooper* 100 44 2.273
    Eddie Plank+* 196 87 2.253
    Togie Pittinger 96 43 2.233
    Jamey Wright 117 53 2.208
    Jamie Moyer* 117 53 2.208
    Pedro Martinez 129 59 2.186
    Ed Reulbach 107 49 2.184
    Win Mercer 92 43 2.140
    Frank Lary 97 47 2.064
    Aaron Sele 111 54 2.056
    George Uhle 113 55 2.055
    Nixey Callahan 86 42 2.048
    Red Faber+ 103 52 1.981
    Chan Ho Park 126 64 1.969
    Sam Leever 90 46 1.957
    Greg Maddux 129 66 1.955
    Doc White* 119 62 1.919
    Pedro Astacio 111 59 1.881
    Don Drysdale+ 154 82 1.878
    Al Leiter* 117 63 1.857
    Harry Howell 97 53 1.830
    Jack Chesbro+ 113 62 1.823
    Clark Griffith+ 102 57 1.789
    Randy Johnson* 182 102 1.784
    Jack Powell 121 72 1.681
    Vic Willis+ 157 95 1.653
    Tim Wakefield 150 91 1.648
    Ed Willett 106 65 1.631
    Jack Coombs 88 54 1.630
    Cy Morgan 95 59 1.610
    Kenny Rogers* 118 74 1.595
    Jack Quinn 94 59 1.593
    George Mullin 131 85 1.541
    Rube Waddell+* 117 77 1.519
    Ed Doheny* 132 87 1.517
    Scott Erickson 103 68 1.515
    Lee Meadows 90 60 1.500
    Mike Boddicker 87 60 1.450
    Rube Benton* 95 66 1.439
    Jim Lonborg 105 73 1.438
    Don Cardwell 98 69 1.420
    Chief Bender+ 102 72 1.417
    Cy Seymour* 84 60 1.400
    Dennis Martinez 122 89 1.371
    Bert Blyleven 155 114 1.360
    Fergie Jenkins+ 84 62 1.355
    Hippo Vaughn* 85 63 1.349
    Earl Moore 106 79 1.342
    Bill Donovan 91 69 1.319
    Chick Fraser 177 135 1.311
    Walter Johnson+ 203 155 1.310
    Kevin Brown 139 108 1.287
    Tom Hughes 104 83 1.253
    Darryl Kile 117 97 1.206
    Pink Hawley 98 83 1.181
    Jack Billingham 98 84 1.167
    Roger Clemens 155 142 1.092
    Frank Tanana* 129 119 1.084
    Burleigh Grimes+ 97 92 1.054
    Cy Young+ 163 156 1.045
    Rick Reuschel 88 89 0.989
    Charlie Hough 174 179 0.972
    Orel Hershiser 117 121 0.967
    Jim Kaat* 122 128 0.953
    Bob Gibson+ 102 108 0.944
    Matt Clement 94 101 0.931
    Gus Weyhing 109 130 0.838
    Kid Nichols+ 133 169 0.787
    Joe Coleman 90 118 0.763
    Mickey Lolich* 92 124 0.742
    David Cone 106 149 0.711
    Tom Candiotti 85 120 0.708
    Gaylord Perry+ 108 160 0.675
    Nolan Ryan+ 158 277 0.570
    Phil Niekro+ 123 226 0.544
    Tommy John* 98 187 0.524
    Tim Keefe+ 96 233 0.412

    The appropriately named Jack Warhop was the #1 headhunter off this list. Of current players, Jeff Weaver leads the pack, which isn't really a surprise. The biggest shock was Senator Bunning... Don Drysdale and Carl Mays seem to have deserved their reputations. Bob Gibson didn't. Gibson was really a great one here - he didn't make you too comfortable at the plate, but he didn't plunk you either.

  • #2
    Sal Maglie pitched all or part of 10 seasons in MLB. "The Barber" had the rep of being a pitcher who would go inside, knock men down, hit them if need be. I checked his stats and he had 44 HPB and 18 WP in his career. As to his control, he fanned 862 lifetime and walked 562. he pitched 1723 career innings and allowed 1591 hits, a shade above 8 hits per 9 innings pitched. It seems like he had good control, he was known for his great curveball, and I think was thought to be a good control pitcher. These numbers would suggest to me that Maglie would go for a hitter also. Although, by the measures used above, the only one for Maglie that reflects intent in a big way is the 44 to 18 2.44 ratio of HBP to WP.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm not sure there's a straight up one to one correlation between hitting people and being mean. Undoubtedly, several of the names on this list (Gibson and Drysdale, in particular) were guys who supplimented their excellent stuff with a dose of intimidation.

      By these numbers, Ryan might look like a guy who didn't hit people, but he was known to do so purposefully at times. The Ventura thing that everybody inexplicably thinks is so hilarious was set off when he hit Craig Grebek in the ribs for having the temerity to hit a homer off of him. Y'know...doing his job?

      However, I don't really think guys like Niekro, Al Leiter (every time I saw him hit someone he acted like something out of a cartoon, slapping his head and cringing), Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux were routinely plunking people in that manner.

      The single meanest and most out of control guy in my personal experience was Dickie Noles, from the Phillies and Cubs. I always thought he was emotionally disturbed. So was Ed Whitson.
      Last edited by Los Bravos; 08-04-2007, 02:28 AM.
      3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

      "To this day, and forever, no one will ever be able to make sense of the game’s record book, now smeared with phony honors. It’s unfixable." - Thomas Boswell

      Comment


      • #4
        From some of the most devastating beanings of all time:

        Jack Hamilton hit Tony Conigliaro - Hamilton really had no idea where his pitches were going. He only hit 13 batters in an 8-year career, but had 74 wild pitches.

        Mike Torrez hit Dickie Thon - Torrez had OK control, and hit 59 batters while giving up 103 wild pitches in a long career.

        Bump Hadley, who beaned Mickey Cochrane, didn't have good control, and hit a lot of batters (66) while giving up 71 wild pitches.

        For the life of me, I can't remember who beaned Don Zimmer.

        Ed Farmer, who hit Al Cowens, had only 12 HBP in an 11 year career, along with 39 wild pitches.

        I agree with Maglie's reputation - his numbers would put him high on the list of intentional beaners, plus he had a very good fastball.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gee Walker View Post
          But I thought that a more interesting list would be one where the true headhunters showed up. A HBP is, in a way, a wild pitch. It's never in a pitcher's best interests to throw a wild pitch. It's never intentional. So a pitcher with a lot of HBP and not very many Wp - well, it shows premeditation to me. In my opinion, a true headhunter would be a pitcher with a high HBP count and a low WP count. I realize that WP is influenced by the quality of the team's catcher, and by the discretion of the scorekeeper who can also call a PB. But it's still a pretty good rule of thumb, I think.
          Or maybe a HBP divided by walks per nine (adjusted, if possible). If the guy's ordinarily got good control he shouldn't be hitting batters "accidentally", but if he's got bad control the HBP may not be intentional
          Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by RuthMayBond View Post
            Or maybe a HBP divided by walks per nine (adjusted, if possible). If the guy's ordinarily got good control he shouldn't be hitting batters "accidentally", but if he's got bad control the HBP may not be intentional
            I'll do the (BB/9P)/HBP spreadsheet in my next look at this. The reason why I didn't use it first is that a small percentage of walks are clearly intentional, and haven't always been measured. Worse, a larger but unknown percentage are "semi-intentional". These take the form of something like this:

            Two out, nobody on, your setup man has a one-run lead in the eighth inning with Jim Thome coming up. The next guy up is a right-handed hitter. So it's agreed that "we won't let that $#&*# Thome beat us". The pitches are out of the strike zone, clearly intended as bait, but a hitter like Thome will be on first four or five pitches later.

            Comment


            • #7
              Sal Maglie has to be on that list
              “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” Walter Lippmann

              "I don't care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a ******* zebra. I'm the manager of this team and I say he [Robinson] plays." - Leo Durocher

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              • #8
                Maglie

                Originally posted by Calif_Eagle View Post
                Sal Maglie pitched all or part of 10 seasons in MLB. "The Barber" had the rep of being a pitcher who would go inside, knock men down, hit them if need be. I checked his stats and he had 44 HPB and 18 WP in his career. As to his control, he fanned 862 lifetime and walked 562. he pitched 1723 career innings and allowed 1591 hits, a shade above 8 hits per 9 innings pitched. It seems like he had good control, he was known for his great curveball, and I think was thought to be a good control pitcher. These numbers would suggest to me that Maglie would go for a hitter also. Although, by the measures used above, the only one for Maglie that reflects intent in a big way is the 44 to 18 2.44 ratio of HBP to WP.
                Drysdale gave Maglie the nod for teaching him why and how to pitch inside. It was interesting growing up in SF to see Drysdale dust Mays off often with Mays putting up an OPS of .978 against him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Didn't Stan Williams keep a black book of batters to hit? I read somewhere that after hitting Henry Aaron, he apologized to him, saying he wasn't trying to hit him in the head, he was trying to hit him in the neck! I'll have to flip through Ball Four, I think I first came across him in there as a kid.
                  "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The "High Hard One" Kirby Higbe? This guy was really mean and thought the best weapon a pitcher had was intimidation.
                    ". . . the Ruth, the whole Ruth and nothing but the Ruth . . ."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Los Bravos View Post
                      By these numbers, Ryan might look like a guy who didn't hit people, but he was known to do so purposefully at times. The Ventura thing that everybody inexplicably thinks is so hilarious was set off when he hit Craig Grebek in the ribs for having the temerity to hit a homer off of him. Y'know...doing his job?
                      Craig Grebek and Ozzie Guillen homered off Ryan in the same game. Ryan apparently thought they hadn't earned the right to hit a home run off him. A week or so later, Ryan hit Grebek in "retaliation". The Ryan/Ventura fight was two years later, when he drilled Ventura. But the Grebek thing might have been in the back of Robin's mind as he charged the mound. In the front of his mind, as he said years later, he was thinking "What am I doing? That's Nolan Ryan out there!"

                      I know I'm responding to a six-year-old post, but hey, I've been busy.
                      They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Guys to look out for

                        The single season hit batsmen leaders are overwhelmingly from the 1890s, but here are some "recent" pitchers with a wide gap between their HBP* and their WP:

                        Howard Ehmke, 1922: 23 HBP, 1 WP

                        Walter Johnson, 1923: 20 HBP, 2 WP

                        Tornado Jack Weimer, 1907: 23 HBP, 3 WP

                        Drysdale, by contrast, hit a number of guys, but he also threw a lot of wild pitches - his "best" season was 1961: 20 HBP, 7 WP

                        Gibson is much further back - his season high of 13 HBP (6 WP) in 1963 doesn't get him into the top 500.

                        And Sal the Barber ... he topped out at a mere 10 HBP (4 WP) in 1950. He sure did look mean, though.

                        *Minimum 20 HBP
                        Last edited by westsidegrounds; 10-12-2013, 12:58 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Herr28 View Post
                          Didn't Stan Williams keep a black book of batters to hit? I read somewhere that after hitting Henry Aaron, he apologized to him, saying he wasn't trying to hit him in the head, he was trying to hit him in the neck! I'll have to flip through Ball Four, I think I first came across him in there as a kid.
                          I'm 95% sure Drysdale said that to Aaron.

                          Originally posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
                          Craig Grebek and Ozzie Guillen homered off Ryan in the same game. Ryan apparently thought they hadn't earned the right to hit a home run off him. A week or so later, Ryan hit Grebek in "retaliation". The Ryan/Ventura fight was two years later, when he drilled Ventura. But the Grebek thing might have been in the back of Robin's mind as he charged the mound. In the front of his mind, as he said years later, he was thinking "What am I doing? That's Nolan Ryan out there!"

                          I know I'm responding to a six-year-old post, but hey, I've been busy.
                          No problem. Better late than never

                          I'm fairly sure that Ventura mentioned that as a motivating factor in his charge after the incident. I know there was solid bad blood between the Sox and Ryan over the earlier thing. Like I've written here, that was a punk move by Ryan who was more than a little bit of a bully at times.

                          I'm a little surprised that Burdette's name hasn't come up much. He was no Sal Maglie but wasn't averse to dropping a guy for effect (and usually yelling at him as he lay in the dirt.)

                          I always say that he looked like Chuck Connors. He could act a little like him, too.
                          3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

                          "To this day, and forever, no one will ever be able to make sense of the game’s record book, now smeared with phony honors. It’s unfixable." - Thomas Boswell

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I had to scan the list a couple times, but I found my favorite pitcher when I was a kid - über-prick Roger Clemens. I figured he had to be in there somewhere.
                            "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Los Bravos View Post
                              I'm fairly sure that Ventura mentioned that as a motivating factor in his charge after the incident. I know there was solid bad blood between the Sox and Ryan over the earlier thing. Like I've written here, that was a punk move by Ryan who was more than a little bit of a bully at times.

                              I'm a little surprised that Burdette's name hasn't come up much. He was no Sal Maglie but wasn't averse to dropping a guy for effect (and usually yelling at him as he lay in the dirt.)

                              I always say that he looked like Chuck Connors. He could act a little like him, too.
                              One detail I had forgotten about the Ryan incident was that Grebek and Guillen homered back-to-back off Ryan. I can see how that would stick in his craw, I suppose.

                              Burdette was especially hard on Roy Campanella, knocking him down repeatedly. Who doesn't like Roy Campanella, for God's sake?
                              They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

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