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Hit ‘Em Up
If you witnessed the 9th inning of the Reds 4-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians yesterday, you’re well aware of the “incident” that occurred, and likely won’t be surprised by my prediction for what will happen next. Someone in the Reds lineup—possibly more than one someone—is going to take a fastball off the shoulder blade.
Aroldis Chapman lost control of his first delivery to Nick Swisher during the final inning on Monday afternoon, sailing a fastball over hitter, catcher, and umpire into the netting of the backstop. Chapman followed that with an even faster pitch, this one about two centimeters from Swisher’s mouth. Rightfully, Swisher was less than pleased with the left-handed Cuban. If someone were throwing a guaranteed skull-fracture anywhere near my face, my demeanor wouldn’t be so jolly, either. Fortunately, a brawl didn’t ensue. Jawing and icy stares, however, did. And retaliation will.
According to the unwritten rules of baseball, between one and three unlucky Reds batters will pay the price for Chapman’s latest lack of control/judgment. But who will incur the impending chin music? I took a statistically-rooted gander through the lineup…sort of.
Shin Shoo Choo—CF: 110% chance of drawing a HBP
Explanation: Choo will almost surely be a bonked at some point in this series, but not because of anything related to the Chapman situation. He just crowds the plate so damn much and has no problem hanging in there—already drilled a league leading 13 times this year—that this outcome is inevitable regardless of the circumstances.
Zack Cozart—SS: 20%
Explanation: Cozart is a good baserunner with decent speed, and Joey Votto happens to bat after him in the lineup. In other words, don’t put him on base for free.
Joey Votto—1B: 50%
Explanation: Votto is likely to get on base anyway, and hitting a team’s best player is sending a pretty clear retaliation statement. However, hitting Votto in Cincinnati, where the average citizen would take a bullet for him, is risky business. If he’s getting hit, it’ll be in game three or four up in Cleveland.
Brandon Phillips—2B: 95%
Explanation: This is the guy. If Phillips isn’t hit tonight, I’ll be somewhat shocked. He’s outspoken, a big enough name, and he just so happens to be an ex-Indian (who struggled during his tenure in Cleveland). Phillips has obviously blossomed since being traded to the Reds in 2006, making the Indians pay in the process. The Tribe received only right-handed pitcher Jeff Stevens in the deal, who is most likely working at a Home Depot somewhere. Be ready, Brandon. Protect that pretty smile of yours.
Jay Bruce—RF: 50%
Explanation: Bruce gets a 50 percent because he’s a big name and has been destroying the ball for the last month. But he’s also known as one of the classiest professionals in the game (Ed’s Note: Unless he’s tweeting his fans), so his chances are somewhat lower.
Todd Frazier—3B: 10%
Explanation: He’s adorable.
Whoever is playing in leftfield at the time: 50%
Explanation: Regardless of who’s out there, there’s generally little danger in putting the seven spot on base.
Ryan Hanigan/ Devin Mesoraco—C: 65%
Explanation: As the catchers, Hanigan and Mesoraco have the most interaction and closest relationships with the pitching staff. In this situation, that’s not a good thing for them. They should consider batting with their masks on for the next three games.
Mat Latos—P: 10%
Explanation: Retaliating by hitting another hurler is generally frowned upon in the pitching world.