Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

The Beanball Solution – Two Bases For Above the Waist

Major League Baseball has a problem. Pitchers are coming in high and tight to the brightest hitters in the game with zero fear of retribution. The only real protection offered is the fear of retaliation against one of their own. But pitchers are obviously willing to go over that line, and a culture of vigilantism that leads to a tit for tat response to hit batsmen only causes these incidents to escalate in very dangerous ways. Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen has seen a steady diet of pitches this season targeting his upper body. He has already been injured once this season as the result of a pitch from Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Randall Delgado that hit McCutchen in the ribs. The Diamondbacks felt the need to retaliate for a pitch from Pirates’ reliever Ernesto Frieri that broke Paul Goldschmidt‘s hand. And that hasn’t been the only time McCutchen has been thrown at. Pirate pitchers have hit more batters than any team in baseball this year. That makes for a lot of angry opponents that feel their only means of recourse is to throw at Cutch in retaliation. So that leaves Andrew McCutchen as a man under fire.
What I find interesting during these beanball occurrences is that the pitchers never suffer. They always get to fire the weapon but never have to worry about taking cover. When Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face the other night by Mike Fiers, the man that had to take the punishment was Carlos Gomez. Seldom do you see a pitcher getting drilled for his own actions. Frankly, there is very little opportunity to take action against a pitcher that is plunking batters. It isn’t even a possibility in the American League due to the designated hitter rule, and even in the NL relievers never hit and starters rarely get more than 2 ABs a game.
There is a school of thought in baseball amongst pitchers that they must pitch inside to be successful, and there is no reason for them not do it aggressively. If a pitch gets away from them and plunks the batter the only penalty is the batter is awarded first base. That is an extremely light punishment and does not deter pitchers from throwing inside. To truly stop pitchers from wildly throwing up and in to hitters the penalties for missing in that location needs to be more severe. My solution is to change the rule so that if a pitch hits a batter above the waist the batter is awarded two bases. I believe this penalty would be severe enough to force pitchers to pitch more cautiously inside. Pitchers can still pitch inside if they want, but they would have to do so with more precision. I also believe this rule change would have a psychological impact that would lessen the desire of an opponent to retaliate for a hit batsman. Teams tend to be more inclined to retaliate if they feel hitting a batter was purposeful. If the penalties for hitting a batter were more severe opponents would be less likely to view a hit by pitch as intentional.
I am very much a baseball traditionalist that loathes the idea of most rule changes. But the game has already changed so much and sometimes that necessitates a rule change. In this period of baseball history batters are getting hit at extraordinary rates. In the last 30 years hit by pitch rates have more than doubled. In 1984 1 out of every 240 batters was hit by a pitch. In 2014 the rate has increased to 1 out of every 111. And pitchers are throwing harder than ever before too. Since pitchers seldom hit in this era they face the consequences for hitting a batter less than ever before. Star players are being put in serious jeopardy and the league is doing nothing to protect them. It is becoming evident that the game can no longer police itself simply thru fear of retaliation. That has to change or more stars like Giancarlo Stanton are going to be injured from high inside fastballs that get away from pitchers. It is time to create a real deterrent for hitting batters in dangerous areas. It is time time to make the penalty two bases for a hit by pitch above the waist.


  1. I can’t get behind this. Batters would intentionally be trying to get hit more then they are. Batters arms are above their waist so every time a batter starts a swing but holds up but takes one off the hand he is awarded two bases? Some of those pitches are almost in the strike zone.

    1. Umpires do a very poor job of enforcing the current rules on attempting to avoid pitches. That would need to change. I can see where pitches that hit the hands or from the elbow to the hand should be excluded from this rule change. I don’t believe that batters are intentionally trying to get hit. Maybe in a few rare cases.

      1. Worded poorly by me. Not intentionally trying to get hit but more accepting of getting hit. I mean tying run at second base in the 8th inning if a pitch comes inside I could definitely see a batter sticking his elbow out there to get hit and “knock” in the tying run.

        I’m fine with automatic ejections and suspensions for HBP above the shoulders. Once you get into the rest of the body I think it becomes a different conversation. I mean is a HBP to the back really worse than to the knee?

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