Derek Dietrich: All-Time Leader

Many of you are home, or traveling home, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Not only aren’t you in the mood to read about baseball — I bet you’re especially not in the mood to read about Derek Dietrich, who the Marlins designated for assignment on Tuesday. I’m not really in the mood to linger on Derek Dietrich, myself, which is why I’m going to do this fast. Won’t waste your time. I’ll get to the point and leave you alone.

Dietrich is a useful player. He’s 29 years old, and he has a career wRC+ of 109. He can play a lot of positions, albeit none of them all that well. Hidden in the numbers, however, is that Dietrich has a specialty. Now, whenever anyone talks about players getting hit by a lot of pitches, the name that ought to come to mind is Brandon Guyer. We’ve written about Guyer at FanGraphs before, and indeed, if you set a low enough minimum, Guyer is easily the all-time leader in HBP rate. But Guyer has 1,487 big-league plate appearances. What if you set the minimum at, say, 1,500?

Given that cutoff, here are the highest career HBP rates since the turn of the last century:

Highest Hit-By-Pitch Rates
Player PA HBP HBP%
Derek Dietrich 2132 93 4.36%
F.P. Santangelo 2075 83 4.00%
Ron Hunt 6158 243 3.95%
Carlos Quentin 3247 127 3.91%
Craig Wilson 2311 90 3.89%
Jason LaRue 3103 107 3.45%
Reed Johnson 3992 134 3.36%
Fernando Vina 4742 157 3.31%
Bert Daniels 2236 72 3.22%
Dan McGann 4648 149 3.21%
1900 – 2018, minimum 1500 career plate appearances.

Dietrich has a lower rate than Guyer, but he’s also played a lot more than Guyer. Dietrich’s the all-time leader with a 1,500 PA cutoff. He’s the all-time leader with a 2,000 PA cutoff. Yes, it’s true that Guyer is more anomalous, but Dietrich is anomalous as well. As these things go, that’s a pretty healthy lead Dietrich has over second place.

Dietrich’s the all-time leader, maybe with a minimum-related asterisk, but all rate-stat leaderboards come with some kind of minimum, and they’re always arbitrary. So I want to give Dietrich his moment in the sun, in what’s otherwise probably a pretty crappy week for him. Dietrich has been hit by 93 pitches. He’s been hit by 13 pitches in an 0-and-2 count. He’s been hit by 39 pitches with the pitcher ahead. He’s been hit by seven pitches by Tanner Roark.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant, here are all the pitches that hit Dietrich somewhere, or were at least judged to have done so:

Here’s that weird low one over the plate:

Here’s one close to the strike zone:

Here’s another one close to the strike zone:

Here’s one I just think is kind of quirky:

Here’s the one time he’s been hit with the bases loaded:

Here’s the one worth the most positive win probability added:

And here’s the one that happened in the lowest-leverage situation:

At least in terms of WPA, Dietrich’s career hit-by-pitches have been worth almost a combined three wins. Dietrich has been hit by 93 pitches while drawing just 144 walks — a dozen of which have been intentional. Dietrich hasn’t exactly built a career around getting hit by the baseball, but getting hit by the baseball has given his career a jolt, and it’s a career that’s going to continue, despite all of the aches and pains. Every year, Derek Dietrich feels a lot of pain in his legs and his elbow. And, every year, for pitchers facing Derek Dietrich, he is a pain in the ass.

Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Russell Eassommember
5 years ago

So, how long till he gets signed by the Indians then to replace Guyer? They need outfielders.

5 years ago
Reply to  Russell Eassom

He’s a Cleveland native; that actually sounds like a good fit.