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Justin Verlander says Shane Victorino is “looking to get hit”

Oct 15, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT

Shane Victorino AP

Shane Victorino has been hit by a pitch five times in this year’s playoffs and nine times for his postseason career, with ties the all-time record. He was also plunked a league-leading 18 times in 122 regular season games after averaging just six hit by pitches in the previous five seasons.

A lot of that increase stems from Victorino giving up switch-hitting, as he’s been hit by pitches at an incredible rate since exclusively batting from the right side. And to Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander at least, Victorino is doing it on purpose:

I’ve seen some pitches that he got hit on that were strikes. So, I mean, I don’t think you can worry about that. I think just whoever is the home plate umpire needs to be aware that he’s up there.

Anything on the inner half, occasionally he’s looking to get hit. He’s up there, he’s right on top of the plate. And his arms are over the batter’s box and over part of the plate. If he doesn’t get out of the way, there could be an occasion that it could be a strike and it actually hits him.

I’m sure Red Sox fans will take offense–and Victorino already has fired back at Verlander with comments of his own–but it’s pretty tough to argue with that quote. Victorino has been hit multiple times by pitches that were at the very least very close to being strikes and very far from being normal hit by pitches. And from Victorino’s point of view, why not? It’s not like umpires ever call that on the batter.

  1. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Oct 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Finally someone called him out. Not like it will matter of course, as the umpires will just continue to blindly ignore it.

    • moogro - Oct 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      JV is wrong. But smart player to raise the issue and maybe get a borderline call.

    • areyesrn - Oct 15, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Shane learned this from Chase Utley…

  2. stoopidfool - Oct 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    stupid whiner

    • alang3131982 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Or he is smartly raising the issue in case Victorino leans into a near strike….i dont think it’s whining, he’s not saying somethign after the fact. he’s trying to set up the scenario where Victorino isnt allowed to lean into strikes, which is against the rule….

      i think it’s a smart thing to do..

      • mrtufts - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        It’s about gamesmanship. Right, alang. And yes, leaning into pitches in an effort to get hit is against the rules. But the batter can stand anywhere in the box he wants – even with his feet on the lines. Then, if he turns away from the pitch… Gamesmanship on Victorino’s part, gamesmanship on Verlander’s part. It’s a wash.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    To be fair, with Joe West anything inside the stadium is a strike.

    • mrtufts - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      True enough!

    • theskinsman - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      Agree 100% on West, but he compounds it by being thin skinned and aggressive tossing players who dare to question his ineptitude.

  4. jeffchadwick - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    Shane Victorino doesn’t visit Fangraphs very often, as they just analyzed the list of HBPs closest to the strike zone, and shockingly, Victorino was all over the list. As a right-handed hitter, he’s a massive outlier on HBP this season, getting hit in 10 percent of his plate appearances versus the league average of .8 percent. So there’s some “proof” for Shane to consider.

    • jeffchadwick - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      10 percent of his 125 ABs versus right handed pitching, to clarify.

      • stoopidfool - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:04 AM

        at least he doesn’t scream like a bitch like fat boy fielder

    • themuddychicken - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:04 AM

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        Great link Chicken! Pretty much sums it up.

  5. jm91rs - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    I think Verlander is right to call him out on it as I’ve seen it a few times when I felt it was obvious he wanted to get hit. I saw the same thing with Choo early in the year. I wish umps would call it, but I understand it would be tough to call.
    I also think Victorino is right to keep doing it, I don’t have a problem with him doing that if he’s willing to take the sting and the ump isn’t going to call it. One of these times though he’s going to get a broken wrist trying to get hit by a 98mph fastball from a guy like Verlander.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      There’s no doubt he crowds the plate. I’ve no issue with him doing that when the umps let him get away with it–I have seen an ump call a strike and not award the base to a batter just once. It’s also important that he doesn’t get angry about it when he gets plunked in the arm or torso. You’re right also that at some point he might get himself injured doing it too.

    • stoopidfool - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      so basically, you’re saying nothing and using quite a few word to do it

      • bfunk1978 - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        I think he’s actually saying “until the umps start to call it, they should keep diving out in front of pitches” which makes a fair amount of baseball sense. Not sure I’d want to get hit by a Verlander fastball though, even if I could control where.

      • jm91rs - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        Yeah, I think if you read what I typed I pretty much said what I thought of the situation. I guess you wanted me to take a side and call someone a whiner or a cheater?

      • cur68 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        Man. Picking a fight over nothing on the interwebs? Really? You trying to live up to that screen name, aintcha?

  6. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    If MLB umpires were doing their job properly, and calling this pitches strikes, this nonsense would stop. Until then, I don’t blame Victorino for taking advantage of a failing by Umpires. And I don’t blame Verlander for being upset about it. When a sport’s officials systematically decide to ignore a rule in place, you cannot expect players not to take advantage of that situation. Yet another example of how MLB needs to get the Umpires and it’s Union in check.

    • stoopidfool - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      but the pitch wasn’t a strike

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        Should a pitch 1 inch off the plate be a legit HBP? I would argue no. The real solution to this problem, as people used to say about Bonds, is to make batter give up those over-sized elbow pads. What incentive does a batter have to get out of the way when he has no fear of the actual getting hit?

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        MLB Rule: 6.08
        “(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.”

      • sabatimus - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        The biggest HBP argument I’ve seen is that the batters are allowed to hold their elbows over the plate. I agree that if the umps don’t do anything about it it’ll continue (just like pitchers taking longer than their 11 seconds to throw a pitch). But if they do one day decide to do something about it, they better make sure it’s applied across the board (cf Jeter).

  7. jbriggs81 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    As long as Victorino doesn’t cry when he accidentally gets his wrist or hand broken, I don’t really have a problem with it. However, Boston’s fan base is far and away the most sensitive fan base of MLB and will have a problem with it… similar to how they will have a problem with this comment.

    • js20011041 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      How astute. You’re not as dumb as your writing makes you look.

    • themuddychicken - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Regarding sensitivity, I think you’re selling fan bases in general short.

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Bulls-eye’n Hawaiian?

  9. xdj511 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    It is certainly in the rules that the batter has to make an effort to get out of the way. Hopefully if he is caught leaning into a pitch the umpire does the right thing and doesn’t award him a HBP. It just has to happen once to get him to stop.

  10. skeleteeth - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    How is this Victorino’s fault? If the ump doesn’t call it a strike, if it is a strike, then oh well. Move on.

    That said, I think it’s pretty clear what he’s doing but there’s not much you can do if it’s not called on the field.

  11. NatsLady - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    OK, if he’s looking to get hit, how about breaking his rib?

    • sabatimus - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      That’s fine. I wouldn’t mind seeing Verlander getting ejected.

    • stoopidfool - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      as long as verlander doesn’t mind a baseball bat slipping out of someone’s hand accidentally, crushing his skull

      • kevinbnyc - Oct 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM

        Ha, so the Boston reaction is, “Hey, the ump isn’t calling it, so it’s not cheating,” but if the opposition does something to discourage his…gamesmanship…then the pitcher should be ejected and/or murdered. Got it. Classy.

  12. sabatimus - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Bring ’em on, I prefer a straight fight to all this sneakin’ around.

  13. gerryb323 - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    The fangraphs article on this is a good one. Without going back and reading it I don’t remember if this point was made in it or in the comments, but as a career switch-hitter, there has got to be some adjustment for Victorino’s now batting exclusively right-handed.

    He has never had to deal with a 2-seam fastball riding in on him. Ever. In the split-second he has to react to a pitch he has never seen before, it would be very difficult to train himself to avoid being hit on an inside 2-seamer.

    Yes, he could stand further from the plate. But his entire career he has used the same positioning. I think it’s more of his inability to read a pitch from a new perspective as opposed to anything else.

    Also, he doesn’t wear a Bondsian elbow pad. If he wants to earn his way on base, go for it.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      But why should the pitcher be punished because SV can’t read a fastball?

      • skeleteeth - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        Ask the umps.

      • gerryb323 - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        Batters have been using the “twist in place” move as an attempt to avoid being hit forever. That or dropping one elbow while raising the other. The fact that umpires buy it can’t really be helped. But really, I don’t know how I would react given 0.01 seconds to get out of the way of something moving 95 mph. I think as long as the batter moves at all and it isn’t to jump in front of the ball, they’re getting the base.

        We should all be able to agree that this is really just gamesmanship by Verlander. He will pitch SV tight today. If he hits him, he wants the ump to be thinking about this.

  14. edpeters101 - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Justin Verlander says Shane Victorino is “looking to get hit”.
    And I’m sure you’re just the immature twit who will do it! Just because you are playing a kids game, does not mean you shouldn’t at some time grow-up!

  15. mrtufts - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Ok, first let’s address the author’s own words: “Victorino has been hit multiple times by pitches that were at the very least very close to being strikes…” In other words, pitches that were NOT strikes, that were in fact balls. This was a stupid statement. If it’s a ball, and it’s far enough inside to be a ball – not a strike – there is a chance the batter will be hit. The batter can stand anywhere inside the batter’s box he choose’s, so your point is?? Besides, Verlander is far too good a pitcher to be whining about stuff like this.

    Obviously, this writer doesn’t watch a lot of baseball. I’ve seen numerous occasions where the umps made the batter stand his ground after getting hit, because he supposedly didn’t make enough of an effort to get out of the way. So then, what constitutes getting out of the way? Most batters do nothing but turn their backs to a ball coming their way. You could argue that isn’t really trying to get out of the way, that’s it’s just an attempt avoid getting hit in a place where it would really hurt – possibly injure them badly enough to spend time on the DL.

    This is a silly article *and* a ridiculous argument. Verlander has the right throw inside. Victorino has the right to stand close to the plate, as long as he’s still in the batter’s box. Whatever happens, happens.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      I’ve seen Victorino get hit multiple times by strikes and awarded 1st each time. Against the Rays in the ALDS, he took one off the underside of his sleeve over the center of the plate, pretty clearly a high strike. From where I sat, it did not look like he even flinched, let alone make any obvious move to get out of the way. Am I mad about that? No. It’s the ump’s job to police that; if the ump allows it, then it’s just one more way to get on base, which is his job.

      However, there is no arguing that he crowds the plate and leans into the strike zone frequently. I’m certain Verlander is right, that he’s sometimes allowing himself to be hit on purpose.

  16. mrbiz8505 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Arms and hands are above the strike zone…… NOT STRIKES

  17. wouldabeenthere - Oct 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    All just smoke. It’s Verlander telling the world he intends to plunk Victorino.

  18. schreinco - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Just another example of my old friend “the unwritten rule”. Come on, you know what they are; swipe tags, throw beating the runner, leaving a tag up too soon, check swings in the playoffs, moving out of the way of a pitched ball, foot swipe during double play relay, the batter’s box, etc….

    They are all just modern day excuses for failure to execute. “Shaneless” failing to move away from or diving into pitches is as bush league as the failure to call it. I blame both the player and the umpire. How about we eliminate the use of arm padding? A batter physically forcing the pitcher to give in to avoid giving a free pass is NOT part of the game. It was nice to see Verlander call it out to try and balance the chance that it will get called.

    Molina’s “tag” at home plate the other night was another perfect example. No use challenging the catcher to knock a ball loose if he doesn’t have to tag, right? It is pretty pathetic to have the “throw beats the runner it is automatic” mentality. Just breeds another generation of players that mail it in.

    There really is no desire to play the game like it is supposed to be played. When guys like Utley and Jeter and Pedroia and Cabrera and Inge…. Might as well write some of the rules to cover the game today.

    Should be more concerned with “righting” the game.

  19. drewy44 - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Victorino merely crowds the plate.

    Yasiel Puig, on the other hand, that guy is always looking to get hit. I suspect he might get his wish tonight.

  20. provguard - Oct 16, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    Don’t talk about it, crack that coconut…

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