March 15, 2021

There Was A 22-Pitch Plate Appearance In Sunday's Mets-Cardinals Game

Mets' second baseman Luis Guillorme led off the bottom of the fifth inning yesterday against Cardinals pitcher Jordan Hicks. A called strike and a foul ball put the count at 0-2. Guillorme's potentially quick plate appearance ended up lasting more than 12 minutes, with a well-earned walk at the end of an epic 22-pitch plate appearance, 10 of which were clocked at 99+ mph!

Way, way back, deep in the mists of time, I decided to keep a log of the longest at-bats of the 2002 season (even though some of them were not actual at-bats, but plate appearances). If I recall, I ignored anything with fewer than 12 pitches. I scoff at announcers referring to a long at-bat after six or seven pitches. In case you are curious, 10 pitches is the minimum for a long at-bat. Same thing with hitting streaks.

During that season, I shared some information with ESPN's Jayson Stark, who identified me in late April as a "loyal reader . . . who chronicles long at-bats for the sheer joy of doing it". By mid-July, I was dubbed the "marathon man" of Stark's "Useless Information Department".

Baseball history has tales of players who could apocryphally foul off countless pitches at will. Luke Appling was the King, allegedly fouling off 24 pitches in one time at bat. In the ninth inning of Bob Feller's 1940 Opening Day no-hitter, Appling supposedly fouled off 15 pitches before drawing a walk, according to an account written only a few days later by a United Press reporter named Steve Snider. When Joe Posnanski investigated the story, however, he discovered that Appling actually fouled off only four pitches in what was, in fact, a 10-pitch plate appearance. The "15" was Appling's total foul balls in the game, in four plate appearances. Meh.

Another Appling legend: Pitcher Dizzy Trout said he had a full count on Appling. "He starts fouling off them pitches. You know that no one ever had Appling's knack for hitting fouls. He fouled off 18 in a row off me . . ." And then, in Appling's next time up, he fouled off 12 consecutive pitches. Trout: "I get mad and on the next pitch I throw my glove instead of the ball."

Pitch-by-pitch data became official in 1998. The longest recorded at-bat since then is 21 pitches (Brandon Belt batting against Jaime Barria, April 22, 2018). . . . By the way, how infuriating is it that the National League waited 113 years before deciding to officially record all pitches?

Okay. 22 pitches!

c s f f b f f f f f b b f f f f f f f f f b

Guillorme: "I'm just happy I ended up with the walk because if I would have gotten out, that would have been not fun for me -- all that work for nothing."

16 foul balls!

Kevin Bass fouled off 15 pitches (in a 19-pitch AB) against Steve Bedrosian before flying out to left on July 23, 1988: f b f b f f b f f f f f f f f f f f 7. That article is from 2009, so I don't know if this is still the regular-season record.

After the 22-pitch walk, Hicks was relieved by Garrett Williams, who hit the next batter with the very first pitch. Of course.

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