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Shin-Soo Choo is on a record-breaking hit by pitch pace

Apr 22, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

Miami Marlins v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

While not in Carlos Quentin territory Shin-Soo Choo has always been hit by a lot of pitches, averaging 12 per 150 games for his nine-year career.

He (or at least the pitchers plunking him) have taken that to another level this season, as the Reds leadoff man has already been hit by nine pitches in 18 games. Obviously that leads baseball, but it also puts Choo on a record-shattering pace.

Choo sat out one game, so the Reds have actually played 19 times this year. Here are the all-time leaders in times hit by a pitch through 19 team games:

Shin-Soo Choo      2013     9
Chase Utley        2007     7
Prince Fielder     2010     7
Fernando Vina      2001     6
David Eckstein     2008     6
Craig Biggio       1995     6
Eddie Yost         1955     6
Nick Johnson       2002     6
Ron Hunt           1968     6
Bill Freehan       1967     6
Richard Hidalgo    2000     6

It would probably be impossible to keep up that pace without winding up on the disabled list, but so far it has helped Choo post a league-leading .523 on-base percentage. Hughie Jennings holds the singe-season hit by pitch record with 51 in 1896 and Ron Hunt got plunked 50 times in 1971, so Choo still has a long way to go. No player has been hit by 30 or more pitches since Craig Wilson in 2004.

  1. Old Gator - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:56 AM


  2. goskinsvt - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I wonder why he is getting hit at this pace, is he basically just standing on home plate or something?

    • Marty McKee - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Nothing unusual about his stance. He murders outside pitching. And Dusty (apparently) doesn’t want his pitchers to retaliate.

      • spudchukar - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        What? He hammers outside pitches because he crowds the plate, makes little or no effort to dodge inside pitches, and therefore, has a high HBP number.

        As for retaliation, it would be stupid, since the vast majority of his plunkings occur due to his proximity to the plate, and not by intentional “chin music”.

        And yes, soon one of those inside offerings will land him on the DL. Plus, teams will adjust and come inside and move him off the plate.

        This is not meant to take anything away from Choo’s hot start, he has been terrific , and it is remarkable that Cincinnati’s offense has performed so poorly with his OBP from the lead-off spot.

        Defensively, the story isn’t as rosy. Listening to the Red’s broadcasters Sunday canonize their Korean center fielder, the series in St. Louis must have evaded their collective memories, cause they claimed his outfield play as exemplary. He has shown a good arm, but the Reds should remember they have been blessed this early season, with only 6 away games, and 16 at home. I do not know how Choo performed in the visiting series in Pittsburgh, but his defense in St. Louis was awful. So the jury is still out, as to his defensive prowess in parks that do not resemble phone booths.

      • jm91rs - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        Ha, can’t post a Choo article without SpudChukar trying to preach about Choo’s defensive woes.

        And coming inside on him won’t do anything to change his approach until it lands him on the DL. He said he used to get mad about getting hit, now he’s fine with it because it gets him on base. So unless he gets hurt badly from one of those hbp’s, nothing is going to change.

      • jm91rs - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        And how exactly has “Cincinnati’s offense performed so poorly”? It would seem to me that by scoring more runs than any team in baseball to this point, their offense has performed quite well. Possibly a product of the ball park, but you certainly can’t say with a straight face that they’ve been poor on the offensive side of the ball.

      • Marty McKee - Apr 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

        spudchukar says, “it is remarkable that Cincinnati’s offense has performed so poorly with his OBP from the lead-off spot.”

        The Reds lead the NL in runs scored and are 2nd in OPS. Seems to me like you have a bit of a credibility problem.

      • ryan5268 - Apr 23, 2013 at 12:45 AM

        Choo recently inquired to his teammates, especially pitchers, if he was crowding the plate too much. The answer was no.

      • spudchukar - Apr 23, 2013 at 3:54 AM

        Satisfied with your offense Reds’ fans? Well, here is what I do know, 6 times this year the Cincinnati Nine has been held to 1 run or less, most of those inept totals occurring in the home town band box. Yes, the Reds have piled on in 5 contests, posted 10 runs or more, driving up their runs scored totals, but it has been all feast or famine.

        Couple the park factor, with the extreme advantage they have in innings played and the runs scored totals look much more average.

        And then look to their opposition. A combined W-L record of 56-76. With runs aloud ranks of 2nd, 3rd (tied), 3rd (tied), 8th, versus NL foes, and 4th in the AL. Only in series against St. Louis and Pittsburgh did they face staffs that are not near the bottom their leagues.

        Check out these OPS+s, Hannigan -26, Heisey 25, Cozart 78, and Bruce 87, creating arguably the worst 5-9 in all of baseball.

        To date, the Reds have been carried by four productive hitters, and to their credit all four have done very well. But as I stated, when your lead-off hitter is on base half the time, you should expect to score often, much more often then the Reds have to date.

        So when you factor in the extreme number of innings played and home games, the awful competition and pitching staffs faced the Reds offensive numbers look very average.

        As to Choo’s defense? All I know is what I saw in St. Louis. By all accounts (unfortunately those accounts?, have all been by fans and broadcasters), his play in center in GAB has been OK, but what I, and others pointed out, the real test for Choo will come when he has to patrol more spacious, unfriendly confines, on the road, a test that so far he has failed miserably in at least 1 of his 2 opportunities.

        One last question. Is reading comprehension an elective in the Cincinnati school systems?

      • pasta09man - Apr 23, 2013 at 6:43 AM

        Okay spudchukar, actually the Reds only LOST 5 games scoring 1 or fewer runs. Winning 1 to 0 doesn’t count. Also the highly acclaimed Nationals have also lost 5 games with 1 or fewer runs. The smoking hot Braves lost 4 games with 1 or fewer runs. Out of 19 games 5 or 6 games scoring 1 or fewer runs are statistically irrelevant at this point in the season. What IS relevant is Brandon Phillips and his 21 RBIs. The truth is that the Reds run production is getting it done.

      • pasta09man - Apr 23, 2013 at 7:07 AM

        oops, did I only mention Brandon Phillips 21 RBIs,

        I forgot to mention Todd Frazier’s 17 RBIs. Compared to the poor run production of spudchuker’s Cardinals, their top RBI man is Craig with a measly 14 RBIs. But giving the poor run producing Cardinals a little boost is Beltran, Holliday and Molina putting out 12 RBIs each.

        But if you are going to count the mediocre performances of those Cardinal underachievers, it is only only fair to add Jay Bruce’s 11 RBIs, Cozarts’ 10 RBIs and Choo’s 9 RBIs.

  3. chacochicken - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I think MLB should create a committee to try and find out why Korean players are being hit by so many pitches and why there aren’t more African American pitchers to throw at Korean players.

    But seriously, Choo is having a great start to the season and I would hate to see him get hurt.

    • ryan5268 - Apr 23, 2013 at 12:43 AM

      that’s a good one

  4. thomas844 - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    All these times getting hit and yet he feels no urge to charge the mound and break a guy’s collarbone.

  5. samsonleague - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    It’s not fair to include Prince Fielder on this list since most MLB pitchers don’t have any problem hitting the equivalent of the broadside of a barn.

  6. 13arod - Apr 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    you know why he is getting hit everybody on that list has a big stance

  7. spudchukar - Apr 23, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Hey Noodleboy, nobody here said anything about 6 losses. How does winning 1-0, not count, your offense still sucked in the game.

    The Cardinal offense has not been very good so far this year. Only Molina, Beltran, and Adams are producing. The only reason St. Louis is doing so well is due to their excellent starting pitching, and unbelievable, and unsustainable RISP, especially with 2 outs.

    See it isn’t so hard to make an honest, critical assessment of your team’s play.

    But I sure would rather be in St. Louis’ position in the standings at this point of the season, knowing they haven’t played the Angels, Cubs, or Marlins, have only played a MLB low 6 games at home come Wednesday, while the Reds have opened with 16 home games.

    And if Choo plays anything defensively in other parks like he did on his first trip to Archland, he better keep up his OBP, cause he will be costing the Reds lots of runs in center field, and will prove to be a liability on the road, where the Reds have yet to prove they can win.

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