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They said it couldn't be done -- at least not by the Brewers. They said, "Sure, the Brewers could get hit by 82 pitches in 2006...but they could NEVER get hit by 83 pitches. 90 pitches? That's just crazy. That's too many pitches for the Brewers to get hit by." But then came 2012. The Year the Brewers got hit by 90 pitches. A new franchise record. How did they do it? What momentous events occurred along the way? Who contributed to this lofty total? Were very many on Tuesdays? Find out those answers and more below.
The 2012 Brewers are the first team since the 2008 Indians to break the 90 plunk mark, and the 23rd team ever. But 13 of those 90 plunks seasons happened in or before the year 1905. After that it wasn't until 1996 that another team's batters were plunked as many as 90 times. But, the Brewers 90 plunk season is special for a number of reasons. For example - it was a total team effort. Of the 22 other teams with 90 or more plunks, all of them had at least one player who got hit 15 times. Not this year's Brewers - Rickie Weeks and Norichika Aoki led the team with 13. But Aramis Ramirez pitched in with 12, and Ryan Braun and Corey Hart had 11 each. You can count on one hand the number of teams that have had 5 players reach double digits in plunks. Unless you're missing a finger. Try it now - the 1899 Orioles had 6 players with 10 plunks, the 1898 Orioles had 5, the 1901 Cardinals had 5, and the 1905 Giants had 5. And the 2012 Brewers had 5. That's 5, right? That's teamwork. A full team, each willing to take a plunk for the others.
But even if they hadn't reached 90 HBPs as a team, it was still a great season for getting hit by pitches. On June 23rd, Rickie Weeks got hit Dylan Axelrod, giving him a career total of 100 HBPs. That made weeks the 24th player ever to get hit by 100 pitches for 1 team, and it made the Brewers 16th franchise to have a 100 plunk player (including the old National League Orioles, who folded in 1899). Then on September 9th, Aramis Ramirez got hit by Mitchell Boggs, putting him into the 100 plunk club. Ramirez became the 7th player to get hit 100 times playing just for NL Central teams. And, with Weeks and Ramirez both breaking the 100 plunk milestone in the same season, that made the 2012 Brewers the 4th team ever to have two players break the 100 plunk milestone in the same season. The 1900 Cardinals had Dan McGann and John McGraw, the 1960 White Sox had Sherm Lollar and Nellie Fox, and the 2005 Yankees had Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.
The Brewers total of 90 plunks was split evenly, 45 were thrown by starting pitchers, and 45 were thrown by relievers. Since 1969, no other team has been hit more than 39 times by relief pitchers. Given the way relief pitchers are used now compared to historical usage rates, 45 plunks by relievers is probably the most ever. I just can't prove it. Also, the Brewers were hit 45 times on Tuesday and Friday, and 45 times every other day of the week. From 1920 to 2011, only one team got hit by 22 pitches on one day of the week - the 1997 Pirates on Sundays. The 2012 Brewers got hit 22 times on Tuesdays and 23 times on Fridays. That's a live ball era record for two days of the week in the same season.
Here are some other interesting accomplishments of the 2012 Brewers:
- Norichika Aoki got hit by 13 pitches, breaking Prince Fielder's record for plunks by a Brewers rookie. That total also tied Kenji Johjima's record for most plunks by a batter born in Japan.
- The Brewers went 40-25 in games when they got hit by at least one pitch. If they'd been hit in every game, at that win rate they'd have won 100 games. And, more importantly, they would have gotten hit by at least 162 pitches. That would be a record. The Brewers were 6-0 when they got hit 3 times, and they were 7-1 when Carlos Gomez took a plunk and 9-2 when Ryan Braun took a plunking.
- They were hit 35 more times than any other team in the league.
- Aramis Ramirez was hit 9 times at parks named after Beer, leading the league in that category.
- No pitcher hit the Brewers more than 3 times this year, and 72 different pitchers hit at least one Brewer. Since 1969, only the 2006 Phillies were hit by a wider variety of pitchers.
- The Brewers were plunked more than any other 2012 team in the 1st, 4th, 7th, 9th, and 13th inning.
- They were only hit 3 times on the dates of full moons. The White Sox had the most full moon plunks with 6.
However, despite all those impressive accomplishments for the Brewers, it wasn't a very good year for people born in Wisconsin, in the field of getting hit by pitches. 2012 was the first year since 1885 in which no batter born in Wisconsin was hit by a pitch. Wisconsin has the 4th longest plunkless streak of any of the US states, having remained plunk free since July 26, 2011. Only Utah, Massachusetts and West Virginia have gone longer.