I have been watching some recent game highlights on Zack Greinke and noticed that he was not afraid to throw inside, brushing back hitters. He has hit only one this year, but has pushed back several more. This got me wondering how much intimidation and the willingness to keep batters from crowding the plate might have to do with getting the upper hand on batters. The following players rank in the tops in both wins and strikeouts, but also in hit batters over their careers.
- Walter Johnson: #3 in hit batters, #9 in career K's, and #2 in career wins
- Randy Johnson: #4 in hit batters, #2 in career K's, and #24 in career wins
- Nolan Ryan: #11 in hit batters, #1 in career K's, and #14 in career wins
- Roger Clemens: #10 in hit batters, #3 in career K's, and #9 in career wins
- Cy Young: #12 in hit batters, #20 in career K's, and #1 in career wins
- Bert Blyleven: #14 in hit batters, #5 in career K's, and #26 in career wins
- Greg Maddux: #17(tie) in hit batters, #10 in career K's, and #8 in career wins
- Pedro Martinez: #17(tie) in hit batters, #13 in career K's, and #83 in career wins
When a pitcher throws high and inside it keeps the batter from leaning out over the plate and sets up the low and away pitch, the hardest pitch for a hitter to get the sweet spot of the bat on. So why are more pitchers not throwing gas between the batter and the strike zone? In recent years umpires almost always warn both teams when a batter is hit. If a pitcher then throws anything close to the batter, it is likely he will be fined and ejected from the game.
Hopefully players like Zack Greinke will continue to throw inside and have success. Otherwise we may never see a dominant fastball pitcher like Ryan or Clemens again.