Shane Victorino has been hit by a pitch five times in this year’s playoffs and nine times for his postseason career, with ties the all-time record. He was also plunked a league-leading 18 times in 122 regular season games after averaging just six hit by pitches in the previous five seasons.
A lot of that increase stems from Victorino giving up switch-hitting, as he’s been hit by pitches at an incredible rate since exclusively batting from the right side. And to Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander at least, Victorino is doing it on purpose:
I’ve seen some pitches that he got hit on that were strikes. So, I mean, I don’t think you can worry about that. I think just whoever is the home plate umpire needs to be aware that he’s up there.
Anything on the inner half, occasionally he’s looking to get hit. He’s up there, he’s right on top of the plate. And his arms are over the batter’s box and over part of the plate. If he doesn’t get out of the way, there could be an occasion that it could be a strike and it actually hits him.
I’m sure Red Sox fans will take offense–and Victorino already has fired back at Verlander with comments of his own–but it’s pretty tough to argue with that quote. Victorino has been hit multiple times by pitches that were at the very least very close to being strikes and very far from being normal hit by pitches. And from Victorino’s point of view, why not? It’s not like umpires ever call that on the batter.