ARLINGTON -- Brandon Guyer was sporting a bright red bruise on the side of his left shin on Saturday evening. It was the result of the latest pitch to tail low and in and strike the Indians outfielder, who has become baseball's new hit-by-pitch king.That is a crown Guyer is
ARLINGTON -- Brandon Guyer was sporting a bright red bruise on the side of his left shin on Saturday evening. It was the result of the latest pitch to tail low and in and strike the Indians outfielder, who has become baseball's new hit-by-pitch king.
That is a crown Guyer is reluctant to wear.
"There's no plan ever to get hit by a pitch," Guyer said. "That's the last thing I want. I just don't know how to move, so it happens."
Entering Saturday's game against Texas, Guyer led the Majors in hit-by-pitch with 27 this season. That includes a pair -- one off the shin in the sixth inning and another off his left foot in the eighth -- during Friday's 12-1 win over the Rangers, marking the fourth game this season he has been hit at least twice. He was hit three times in a game against the Red Sox on April 21.
Over the past two seasons, Guyer has been hit a Major League-high 51 times, with Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs in second with 44. Guyer's 27 this year are the most by an American League hitter since 2002, when David Eckstein was also hit 27 times. The AL record is 35 by Don Baylor in 1986, while the MLB mark is 50 in 1971 by Ron Hunt.
Guyer's knack for getting hit stems from the stride before his swing. The right-handed batter does not crowd the plate in an extreme manner, but when he lifts his left leg and drives forward, his foot tends to land on or near the inside chalk line. While Guyer tends to move out of the way of high inside pitches, the outfielder said he has a hard time getting out of the way of offerings that come in lower.
"It's just an instinct of mine," Guyer said. "When it's upper -- head or upper body -- I'll move. I'll throw my arms up or get out of the way. But lower body, I've always been that way with getting hit. That's how it's been the last three years in the big leagues, and college and the Minor Leagues. It's just instinctual."
Guyer does not plan on altering his approach.
"Some people say you should try to work on not getting hit," Guyer said. "But, if I went up there thinking, 'If it's in, get out of the way,' it'd take away from my hitting. I'd be thinking about moving away from inside pitches, instead of trying to see the ball and hit the ball. If I were to do that, I think my hitting would suffer. So, I try to roll with it."
According to research by August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs.com, Guyer is actually an all-time great at getting hit by the pitch. Over his career, Guyer has been hit in 6 percent of his plate appearances. That is the highest rate in baseball's modern history (since 1921), among players with at least 500 career plate appearances.
"That's so nuts to me," Guyer said. "It really is, because it's something I honestly don't try to do. It's so weird. I feel like stats like that, it's something you work on in practice and it's something you get really good at. I never think about it going up to the box ever, and I don't work on it. The stat is baffling to me."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.