Much is being made of Houston Astros players getting plunked in the first week of spring training, but the reality of the situation is far less unseemly.
Through Wednesday, Houston players were hit by a total of seven pitches in five games, the most of any team so far in spring training.
That understandably raises eyebrows considering the rest of the league's contempt for the Astros in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal, but even the slightest bit of critical thinking quickly puts a damper on the theory that Houston is being targeted right now.
Firstly, the Astros don't even lead the league in hit batsmen per game. The Cincinnati Reds have had six players hit in their four games (1.5/game), slightly more than the Astros' 1.4/game.
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Perhaps most importantly, is the fact that it's still only the first week of spring training. Pitchers haven't thrown in live games for months and there's bound to be rust, particularly in their first outings of the year.
In fact, four of the seven pitches to plunk Astros so far were thrown by minor-leaguers.
Though the Chicago Cubs led the league with 24 hit batsmen in 34 games last spring, this all may also be part of a larger trend in baseball. The 2018 and 2019 seasons saw the highest HBP rates in the majors since the year 1900.
Admittedly, it's fun to use a small sample size to confirm a hypothesis and it is certainly possible Astros players will face retaliation in real games.
Having said that, there's no cause for alarm — just yet — merely based on the first week of spring training.
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