Carlos Quentin Hangs Out Over the Plate

Carlos Quentin
Carlos Quentin
August 20 2012 San Diego CA USA San Diego Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin 18 is hit by a pitch during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Petco Park Christopher Hanewinckel USA TODAY Sports

After Thursday night’s melee featuring an enraged (and clearly confused about the game of baseball) Carlos Quentin, and a timid, yet defensible Zack Greinke, many are asking themselves, what would my favorite pitcher do if he were charged by a 6′ 2″, 240 lb. madman who’s willing to forget the fact his team is in the midst of a one-run game, and he’s in a full count.

Carlos Quentin
Apr 11 2013 San Diego CA USA San Diego Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin 18 is hit by a pitch during the sixth inning by Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke not pictured at PETCO Park Jake Roth USA TODAY Sports

Quentin told reporters after the game, “Myself and Greinke have a history. It dates back a few years. It’s documented,” and he’s right. Problem is, Quentin has a history with every pitcher he’s faced. Since 2006, Quentin has been hit 116 times, second behind only Chase Utley, who’s been hit 134 times. One might think Utley has a problem hanging out over the plate too, but there’s a difference. Utley has seen 4,116 plate appearances; Quentin has seen 2800. This gives Quentin a HBP/PA ratio of 24.1 to Utley’s 30.7. The next closest player over that time period is Rickie Weeks, who was hit by a pitch approximately every 37.4 at bats.

Since 2006, Quentin was hit roughly every six games. And somehow, he and Greinke have a “history.” This is like saying the Japanese have a history of eating sushi, as if it were a bad thing. It’s an attempt to blame someone other than himself. The Japanese perfected the art of eating raw fish; Quentin has perfected the art of getting hit by a pitch. It is what it is.

Quentin has a problem at the plate. He either enjoys getting hit, or simply doesn’t know how to get out of the way. Dave Cameron at FanGraphs has an interesting graphic on the Carlos Quentin situation, and echoes my sentiment in the article:

Quentin’s rate of being hit by pitches within six inches of the inside corner is 20 times higher than the Major League average. It is, at the minimum, a little hard to have sympathy for the guy.

It’s incredibly hard, and after Thursday night, I find it impossible. Greinke hasn’t made a name for himself by making rash, thoughtless decisions while his a game was on the line. Now, Carlos Quentin has.

When was the last time a pitcher intentionally hit a batter with a full count, when his team is leading by one run? Should I charge the mound while my team is down by a run, or should I jog down to first base? I get hit a lot; is now a good time to overreact?

These are the types of questions Carlos Quentin should ask himself the next time he’s hit by a pitch, which at the very soonest won’t be until sometime in late April. Major League Baseball has handed him an 8 game suspension, which wasn’t enough for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who said after the game,

He should not play a game until Greinke can pitch.

Unfortunately for Mattingly, Quentin will be back far sooner than Greinke, and if the law of averages has anything to do with it, he’ll be hit by several pitches well before Greinke throws his first rehab pitch in AAA.


Advanced Stats courtesy of FanGraphs

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Tomas Laverty
Tomas Laverty, frequent contributor to the MLB section, runs a Detroit web design company called Detroit Spaces.