With Mets batters being hit by pitches at a high rate this season, the team is running out of patience and on the lookout for answers. At the very least one Mets player thinks there may be a wrongdoer: the baseballs Major League Baseball is using this season.
The explanation for the Mets’ frustration is evident: First baseman Pete Alonso has been hit in the top twice — the second incident, which happened Tuesday, resulted in a broken helmet — and shortstop Francisco Lindor has also been hit in the top. Overall, the Mets have been plunked 19 times in 20 games, which is eight greater than some other team had entering Wednesday’s motion.
While Alonso was capable of start for the Mets on Wednesday, and not one of the incidents have led to serious injury, emotions boiled over Tuesday within the team’s 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets’ Dominic Smith was hit by reliever Nick Wittgren within the sixth inning; Alonso took a changeup recorded at 83.1 miles per hour from Kodi Whitley to his helmet within the eighth, resulting in each benches clearing; and Starling Marte was hit by Aaron Brooks with a 92.7 m.p.h. sinker within the ninth. Marte’s hit by pitch got here with the bases loaded, driving in a run.
Wednesday’s game, a 10-5 win for the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, had a continuation of the drama between the teams. Edmundo Sosa of the Cardinals was hit by a Carlos Carrasco slider in the underside of the fourth inning and J.D. Davis of the Mets had to go away the sport after being hit within the ankle by a Génesis Cabrera fastball in the highest of the eighth. The Mets said X-rays of Davis’s foot were negative but that he would require further evaluation.
The 2022 M.L.B. Season
A season that was unsure is suddenly in full gear.
There have been also two close calls on inside pitches. Brandon Nimmo of the Mets narrowly ducked out of the best way of an errant sinker within the second inning — recovering to hit a two-run double two pitches later — and Nolan Arenado of the Cardinals reacted angrily to an inside pitch in the underside of the eighth, resulting in the benches clearing for a second straight game. Arenado was ejected by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak.
Asked if Arenado’s response was out of line, Mets Manager Buck Showalter implied his team had handled things the proper way.
“I’ll allow them to handle their players,” he said. “I do know our player got hit in the top and went to first base.”
Chris Bassitt, an All-Star pitcher who had began Tuesday’s game for the Mets (and hit one batter), addressed the spurt of hit batsmen after his start, saying he blamed the baseballs, that are “all different.”
“It’s extremely annoying to see your teammates always get hit, and if you happen to get hit by certain pitches it’s what it’s, but to get hit in the top the quantity that we’re getting hit is unbelievable,” Bassitt, who was hit by a line drive within the face last season, told reporters. “I had some close calls tonight, and I’ve been hit within the face, and I don’t want to do this to anybody ever, but M.L.B. has a really big problem with the baseballs.”
“They’re bad,” he added. “Everyone within the league knows it. Every pitcher knows it. They’re bad.”
The league office issued an announcement concerning the issue on Wednesday.
“M.L.B. is all the time concerned about keeping hitters protected from dangerous pitches,” the statement said. “We closely analyze trends in the sport and have lively conversations with our players and coaches to handle concerns.”
A part of the problem could possibly be a struggle for some pitchers to grip the baseball within the wake of M.L.B.’s crackdown on using foreign substances. Last season, some pitchers, including Gerrit Cole of the Yankees, were accused of using products like Spider Tack to enhance grip and increase spin rate, leading M.L.B. to conduct on-field inspections in an try to eliminate the substances from the sport.
“You ought to discuss Spider Tack and all this other stuff, yeah, get that out of the sport,” Mets catcher James McCann told reporters after Tuesday’s game. “I agree with that. But give them an on-deck circle similar to the hitters have. Allow them to have a grip on the baseball.”
While the Mets’ average of 0.95 hit batsmen per game of their first 20 games was extraordinarily high, the M.L.B. rate has not gone up. Entering Wednesday, teams were having a player hit 0.42 times a game; last 12 months’s overall mark was 0.43. Hit by pitches have fluctuated over time, but they’ve steadily been over 0.3 since 1995 and reached a near record high of 0.46 in 2020 (in 1898 and 1899, the common was 0.47).
The concept that the baseballs could possibly be different, nonetheless, shouldn’t be without merit. An investigation for Business Insider by Bradford William Davis and the physicist Meredith Wills identified two distinctly different baseballs that were utilized in games in 2021. Further changes to the ball this season could help explain an offensive drought wherein home runs are being hit at a lower rate than in any full season since 2014.
Regardless, Showalter believes something is amiss in how often his players are hit.
“It’s one thing to get hit within the toe or knee, but we’re getting loads of balls in the top and the neck, and it’s just not good,” Showalter told reporters on Tuesday. “Not good. You care about your players, and without stepping into right and mistaken and what have you ever, you reach some extent where it’s about safety of your players.”
“We’re lucky,” Showalter said of Alonso. “You’re talking a couple of pitch that broke his helmet. It’s not good. I’m not pleased.”