"Mom, pitchers love me. They really, really loved me."
Those were the letters I penned to my mother by the light of the candle. Dipping my feather back into the ink, I continued.
"I was never hit by a pitch more than thrice in any given season."
Meanwhile, in the modern times in St. Louis, a much more technologically advanced Jon Jay is no doubt texting his mom about how much pitchers hate him. During a recent stretch of five plate appearances, he was hit in four of them. He’s been struck by 14 pitches already this season.
Regardless of our communication methods, Jay and I were both wrong about the pitchers being responsible for drilling us. They’re not, and they don’t love or hate us.
We tend to assume getting smoked is about whether pitchers are throwing at us. If not that, then it’s because they’re coming inside. What really matters is how we stand in relation to the plate and how we get out of the way when buzzed with an inside heater.
Denard Span has over 500 plate appearances this season. He has not been struck by a pitch. In fact, Span, Casey McGehee, Daniel Murphy, Christian Yelich, Ben Zobrist and Matt Kemp total zero HBP this season. I could go on with the names, but you get it.
I stood far off the plate. When a pitch was near my body, my instinct was to move my feet, not my shoulder. I like to think it was my cat-like reflexes, but it wasn’t. Men like Jay turn their shoulders in instead of moving their lower half. Picture both responses – one moves a batter out of the way, the other moves him toward the catcher.
Back to our mothers. Jay’s and mine both have reason to be proud. Jon’s mom is happy because her boy sports a better on-base percentage than he’d otherwise have. Mine loves my bruise-free skin.