Mains: Does retaliation decrease in October?

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on October 20, 2017:

I will admit to being a little obsessed by hit batters. (This is the second time I’ve started an article with that sentence.) My concern is that they’re climbing because of the rise of strikeouts (don’t look at me like that, just read this), and they’re becoming more dangerous because of high, hard pitches  (as discussed here). Given what I view as a growing hazard to the sport, I’m bothered by what appears to be a cavalier attitude toward men being struck by hard objects thrown at high speeds.

One of the more toxic examples is the concept of “protection.” You’ve seen it. A player on your team gets hit, especially a star, and it’s de rigueur that somebody on the other team gets hit. I watch a lot of Pirates games, and the team’s broadcasters practically insist on it whenever Andrew McCutchen gets hit. For a while, Pirates-Reds games were hit-by-pitch-a-rama affairs.

Of course, there are consequences to hitting a batter with a pitch: He gets to take a base. That’s not cost-free. Per our run expectancy tables, the difference between no outs and nobody on vs. no outs and a runner on first is about three-eighths of a run. That’s a significant difference. It may not seem that way in the context of one game in a 162-game season, but it’s something that you’d think would counter the Book of Leviticus mindset that pervades the game.

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Originally published: October 20, 2017. Last Updated: October 20, 2017.