Friday, April 12, 2013

A Little Background On The Greinke Quentin Fight

As you know by now former White Sox Carlos Quentin got into a scuffle with former Royal Zack Greinke on Thursday night. In the upset of the century considering Carlos' ability to get injured, it was Zack Greinke who emerged from the scrap with a broken collarbone and is going to miss about two months because of it.

And since Greinke was hurt in the fight people have been getting mad at Carlos Quentin for starting it.

And that bothers me a bit, because that makes it seem like Zack Greinke played no role in what transpired.

I don't know that Greinke hit Quentin on purpose last night, and neither does Carlos. The only person who does is Greinke and he sure as hell isn't going to admit it if he did. But for those who look at last night's fight as an isolated incident and just blame Quentin for everything need to understand the history of Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin.

And it's not just that Greinke hit Quentin with a pitch two different times before last night.

Carlos Quentin has been hit by a lot of pitches in his career. He's been hit 116 times, including 43 times in his final two seasons with the White Sox. Through his career Quentin has been hit by a pitch just about once every 24 times he's gone to the plate. So for Quentin to just snap at this point, after being hit 116 times, and charge the mound can't just be random.

Sure, Carlos has been hit a lot, but you know who has hit a lot of batters with pitches during his career?

Zack Greinke.

During his seven seasons with the Royals Greinke hit 39 batters. Now, keep in mind, he missed about a year and a half with injuries and problems with depression. So it's really five and a half seasons we're talking about here.

Of the 39 batters he drilled in Kansas City, nine were White Sox players.

In his career against the White Sox Greinke is 7-10 with a 4.14 ERA and has allowed 20 home runs in 156 innings.

Now, he's only walked 29 White Sox hitters in those 156 innings, but he's somehow managed to plunk nine of them. It's like he suddenly loses control or something.

I mean, how does a guy who has only walked 2.3 hitters per nine innings in his entire career drill 46 players in his career?

Could it be that Zack Greinke is a bit of a hot head? Was that a rhetorical question? You're damned right it was.

It always amazed me how a guy who homered off Greinke in the second tended to get drilled in the fifth.

So while Greinke had only hit Quentin twice prior to last night Quentin is used to seeing him drill teammates.

So no matter how you feel about Quentin charging the mound last night, let's not pretend that Zack Greinke is innocent in all this. Players get hurt and have to miss games from being hit by pitches all the time. If you make a habit of hitting batters with pitches, it's only a matter of time before you end up missing games because of it as well.


Konerko on what happened:
"I think like (Quentin) said if you know the history and you know the pieces of the puzzle, it kind of all makes sense. So, you know hopefully the people out there don’t look at, I think, as an isolated event like it was something that just happened last night. 
"I think when you put all the pieces together, I think you find yourself you know being on Carlos’ side a little bit more when you start seeing, and it’s not just. I think it was three hit by pitches, but if you watch the games I’ve watched, he’s probably had more than five pitches that have gone over his head. 
"So, you know, at some point, it’s going to be the last straw, and that’s what happened."
But, of course, I'm sure all of us watching at home know more about it than he does because he was only there living it.

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  1. I love CQ as much as the next Sox fan, but how about the fact that Matt Kemp was nearly drilled in the head earlier in the game? Maybe that should be a starting point of analysis, not the collective history of this hitter/pitcher. And the reason CQ gets hit so much is because he hangs over the plate (duh). Pitchers have every right to lay claim to the inside part of the plate, and if Q or others want to hang out there, you do so at your own risk. The only time Q has a reason to charge the mound is if a pitcher goes head hunting. Otherwise he just needs to shut up and take his base. He's dead wrong and I hope they give the guy a lengthy suspension.

    1. He's going to get about eight games like everybody else. You miss the point entirely of what I wrote.

      I'm not saying Quentin has no fault in this. I'm saying blaming it all on him and not blaming Greinke (or Marquis for throwing over Kemp's head) is crap. The only reason it's happening is because Greinke got hurt. Had there been no injury there'd be no controversy.

    2. Crowding the plate? Usually, maybe, but not in this case:

    3. If that's crowding the plate, then I'm Kurt Cobain.

  2. Ha! No one's "missing the point entirely." Relax. I got your point and I responded. You're trying to balance blame for the beaning and retaliation and I said that the earlier incident with Kemp is more of a factor than any White Sox/Royals bad blood. But by your logic Q should have a grudge against just about every pitcher he's ever faced.

    1. Yet, for some reason, Quentin doesn't hold a grudge against other pitchers....

    2. "Since 2008, Greinke has hit Quentin with a pitch three times in 31 plate appearances. That comes to one HBP every 10.3 trips to the plate. Greinke has faced 4,279 hitters not named Carlos Quentin in that span — and hit just 19 of them. That comes to one every 225.2 trips to the plate."

      I'd hold a grudge too.

  3. 39 HBP in a career as long as Greinke, objectively, is not "a lot". He's only been top 10 in HBP in the league once, and that was in 2005, where he clearly had control issues. 4 out of 9 of his CHW HBP have came during that 2005 season, when Quentin wasn't even on the team yet. This is an example of trying to force numbers to a narrative without regard for objective analysis. Objectively, Greinke cannot be construed as a guy who hits a remarkable amount of batsmen, and objectively, Quentin can be described as the batter who is most likely to get hit by a pitch in all of baseball.

    1. I agree, 39 is not a lot, but when 9 of the 39 -- nearly a quarter, mind you -- are against the White Sox A LOT of Greinke's HBP have come against the Sox. Now, you might say that's because he faced the Sox so much being that they were division rivals. And this is an excellent point. However, while Greinke has hit 9 Sox batters, he's hit 7 batters among the rest of his AL Central opponents COMBINED.

      I'm not calling Greinke a headhunter. I'm not saying Quentin was right to charge the mound or that Quentin doesn't get drilled a lot. These things aren't up for debate.

      What I'm saying is that Carlos Quentin has been hit 116 times in his career yet he didn't charge the mound a single time until yesterday. He's used to being hit, but there was a REASON he charged against Greinke, and that's because the two of them have a HISTORY that dates back quite a while.

      This didn't happen in a vacuum.

      And while this is a bit off the subject, the truth is if Greinke didn't get hurt lowering his shoulder into Quentin, nobody gives a shit today.

    2. The statistical significance of hitting the White Sox more times than other teams is exaggerated when the sample size is so horribly small. Consider, further, that the White Sox are commonly HBP:

      2012: 2nd overall
      2011: 1st overall
      2010: 2nd overall

      You would expect Greinke to hit more CHW batters than any other team, based on this, and nitpicking over the number "9" is just statistical variance. You can't draw any conclusions either way over it, pretty clearly.

      Which brings to me why you'd even bring it up? You toe the line in your response, saying that Greinke's not a headhunter and Quentin wasn't justified in charging the mound... but you bring the idea of Greinke hitting CHW hitters "a lot" in direct juxtaposition with this. It's as if you're bringing up a point, then saying that the point is unfounded but that you stand by it. It seems extremely simple to me: if Quentin isn't justified in charging the mound, he isn't justified in charging the mound. He might have had a REASON for charging the mound, but if you admit that he's not justified in charging the mound, all you've done is establish motive. However, a neutral observer would probably say that you've written an article for the purpose of making Greinke look worse and Quentin look better.

      You're right that we're only talking about this today because Greinke broke his collarbone. But if we're taking the event in a vacuum, that should show you how ludicrous it is that you're singling Greinke out for hitting a lot of CHW hitters -- Quentin, before last night, was HBP multiple times by the same pitcher SEVENTEEN other times. Seventeen other pitchers have hit him more than once. Why not talk about them having it out for Quentin? Because he didn't charge the mound on them? As far as you can't guess about Greinke's intentions over throwing the pitch, you can't guess about Quentin's intentions over charging the mound. Again, it seems irrelevant to bring up. Statistically, the background of it is that the player most commonly hit by a pitch in baseball got hit by a pitch from a pitcher not known to hit batsmen often, and it doesn't feel like you say anything meaningful about the background of the two based on that.

      The most compelling argument for that the pitch was intentional, which is not very compelling, is the pitch around Kemp's head earlier in the game. But it was a 3-2 pitch in a one run game after Greinke had already thrown Quentin but not hit him earlier in the game. I think that most signs point to that Quentin does what he does, he stands in so he can dominate the outer half of the plate, and Greinke had a pitch get away from him, as evidenced by Ellis's glove on the setup.

      Sorry for coming on strong here, but I think it's cheap to write an article that strongly suggests something, and that you know everyone will take out if it, but then when called out on it, you throw your hands up and say "I'm not saying Quentin was right or Greinke was wrong". I can disagree with you, and that's fine, but I at least want you to own what you're saying.

    3. I assure you, I know full well what I'm saying. Maybe I didn't convey it as well as I could have while writing the post this morning. I wrote this post as a response to the way so many people are labeling Quentin as a hothead today. I don't think it's a fair portrayal of who he is. Yes, he gets angry. But his anger has always been directed inward at himself. Yet today I see headlines like "Greinke injured by enraged Quentin" and I feel that is a blatant attempt to portray Quentin as some sort of animal. (,0,2591561.story)

      I don't think he should have charged the mound, and I do think he should be suspended, but I think Quentin's being portrayed by a lot of people today as if he's some sort of monster for what he did. Yet he only did something that hundreds of baseball players before him have done.

      I mean, it's not like Quentin threw a bat at an umpire, dropkicked a catcher or went after an opponent's dugout wielding a bat.

      And the intent of this post was never to portray Greinke as a bad person, or a headhunter. It was merely an attempt to provide more context for what took place last night. If I did a poor job of that, I did a poor job of that.

  4. What the guy above said. Interested in Fornelli's response here.

  5. Zack Greinke: 2.3BB/9, 0.27HBP/9. This is supposed to be wildly implausible, proof positive that he's a "hothead"?

    Let's look at the first two low-BB White Sox starters that come to mind:
    Mark Buehrle: 2.0BB/9, 0.20HBP/9
    Jake Peavy: 2.7BB/9, 0.31HBP/9

    Greinke's numbers are right in line with those. So give me a break. Just because you don't OFTEN miss (thus low BBs) doesn't mean you never miss by A LOT (causing HBP), especially when you work both sides of the plate.

    Meanwhile, you're claiming Quentin ISN'T a hothead? He was hit on the biceps by an up-and-in mistake, on a 3-2 count, in a one-run game, making no effort to get out of the way. He received a gift. No sane person could think it was an intentional effort to hurt him, and even if that were the intent, it was certainly unsuccessful. In response, he RAN AT THE PITCHER TO ATTACK HIM. How is this NOT an act of mindless rage? How is Greinke in ANY way to blame for this?

    It would be a better game if the punishments for such actions were measured in months, not games, regardless of whether or not anyone got injured. But Quentin will get a bullshit eight-game suspension, or something, because that's how MLB does things. Doesn't make it less of a disgrace.

    1. I mean, Greinke did throw the bloody baseball--it's weird that you want to let him off the hook entirely. But I do think Quentin overreacted, although Fornelli's point about how Quentin's been depicted today is well-taken in that it's a little extreme in painting his overall character. Unknown has it right, however: the case for there being "history" is pretty thin, and Fornelli is relying on innuendo to make his point because the case is thin.

      You know what I think happened? Quentin got hit by a bad pitch, he got mad (I would), Greinke said something obnoxious, and Quentin just lost it. Not because he and Greinke have "history," but he just lost it. He had a bad day before he got to the ballpark or whatever and that put him over the top. His insinuations (which were notably vague, mind you!) that he and Greinke have had run-ins before were really just post-facto ass-covering. Right now, I think that's what's most likely.

    2. Yes, I "want to let [Greinke] off the hook entirely", because he did absolutely nothing wrong. He threw a pitch. That's his job. The pitch missed up and in. Sometimes pitches do that. This is not worthy of criticism, let alone worthy of BEING ASSAULTED.

      I couldn't care less what Greinke said (which we don't know), or what "history" there was, or whether Quentin was just having a bad day. Everyone has bad days at work. Everyone hears obnoxious comments. All batters occasionally get hit by pitches. Most of them manage to avoid ATTACKING PEOPLE as a result of their frustration, and I have no problem at all if those who do get caricatured as violent lunatics.

    3. Yeah, not trying to justify what Quentin did--I was merely trying to explain it--so feel free to dial down your outrage.

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  7. I bet a lot of comments on this board blasting Quentin are from people who have never been hit by a pitch. It is infuriating and in the moment can make someone act irrationally. You always remember who beans you. I don't doubt that when Quentin was on the white sox, there was plenty of dugout talk about Greinke and his "coincidental" control problems against them. Greinke only poured gasoline on the fire by cursing at him and acting like it was no big deal (not a smart move given his history with Quentin and the White Sox).

  8. I'll add to some of the points that look at the numbers here...

    For his career, 10.4% (quite a lot) of Greinke's innings are against Chicago. His Chicago HBPs make up 19.7% of his total.

    However, 6(!) of those 9 Chicago HBPs came in 2004 or 2005...only 3 happened in the following years. So that's 12% of Greinke's HBPs after 2005, in 9.1% of his that point, given the sample size of HBPs, that difference is negligible.

    As for Greinke being a hothead, you would think that he would be most so in his early days, when he was an inferior pitcher and dealing with personal issues. But his 2005 HBP record tells an interesting story: in games he hit a White Sox player by pitch, Greinke gave up 1, 2, 5, and 2 ERs. Where's the motivation there? Meanwhile, he didn't hit anyone in the game he surrendered 7 ERs to the team. The last time he had hit it a Chicago player was his first start in 2009...a game in which he surrendered no runs. 8 starts later, and no HBPs (until start number 9), in spite of the fact that Greinke had games in which he gave up 4, 4, 4, and 6 runs. He even had one game in which he allowed 3 the first four innings!...and yet didn't hit a single batter through 7. It seems he learned to bottle up his beserker rage.

    I'll be first glance, the numbers definitely merited investigation. But given sample size and bias, it was irresponsible of you to just draw conclusions from there. Your claim that Greinke is a "hothead" was based on colored, circumstantial, and shallow analysis, and does not hold up to even minor scrutiny. The claims by White Sox players and fans that Greinke had it out for Quentin seems based more on just their perception than anything. Given your well-respected forum, I would encourage you to write an update or second article correcting your initial viewpoint.

    Additional note: I'm a Red Sox fan, so I have no horses in this race. When I first read your article, I didn't even set out to support Greinke...I just wanted to investigate further and see if your claims held up or not. My findings are in no way cherry-picked, but rather are simply the results as I found them.


Feel free to vent about how much any player sucks, but no hate speech directed at anybody, be it a player or a fellow commenter.