Sports | September 6, 2022 1:37 pm

The New York Mets Have Perfected the Art of Getting Hit by the Pitch

With 88 HBP combined, the Mets are on pace to have the most hit batsmen of any major league team since 1900

Starling Marte is hit by a pitch at Citi Field in July
The New York Mets lead all of baseball in hit batsmen.
Jim McIsaac/Getty

When Willson Contreras becomes a free agent this offseason after making a little more than $9 million to play for the Chicago Cubs in 2022, the 31-year-old catcher should make sure his agent gives the New York Mets a call to see if they’d be interested in his services.

While Contreras only has 21 home runs on the season, he leads the league in another statistical category that the Mets have seemingly started to prioritize this season: getting hit by a pitch.

Contreras has been struck with a bean ball a National League-leading 23 times this season, well ahead of AL leader Anthony Rizzo (18) of the New York Yankees. Both players would fit right in on the Mets, who lead all of baseball with 88 HBP combined and are on pace to have the most hit batsmen of any major league team since 1900, according to The Wall Street Journal. Averaging 0.65 hit batsmen per game, the Mets have four players in the top 20 of getting beaned in Mark Canha (17), Brandon Nimmo (15), Starling Marte (12) and Pete Alonso (10).

The Mets, who’ve earned more than two wins and racked up six runs batted in thanks to getting drilled (usually in the arm or leg) and started the season with an MLB-high 18 hit batsmen through 19 games, get hit with close to double the frequency of the Philadelphia Phillies (0.33), Kansas City Royals (0.32), Pittsburgh Pirates (0.30) and Texas Rangers (0.27).

With pitchers throwing faster than ever with more emphasis being placed on velocity over control, baseball is easily on pace to exceed 2,000 hit-by-pitches for the second straight season. “It’s a problem we have in MLB in general,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said earlier. “It’s just not good.”

In addition to the increased need for speed on the mound being cited as a reason for the rise of hit batsmen, it’s been theorized that whatever MLB did to its baseball this offseason has also played a role in the boon in beanings. “MLB has a very big problem with the baseballs. They’re bad,” Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt said earlier this season. “Everyone knows it. Every pitcher in the league knows it. They’re bad. They don’t care. The MLB doesn’t give a damn about it. They don’t care. We’ve told them there are problems with them. They don’t care.”

Maybe they don’t, but at least the NL East-leading Mets are using it to their advantage.