MILWAUKEE — One of the most inevitable subplots of the 2022 Mets season reached its climax on Wednesday, when the club set a modern AL/NL record with its 106th hit batsman of the season.
It’s a mark that no one on the Mets wished to achieve.
“It’s like a broken record at this point,” said Mark Canha, who was hit twice in the game to set the individual franchise record with 24. “We just kind of roll our eyes when it happens now and move on. There’s nothing you can do except capitalize on it, make it hurt.”
The record-setting 106th hit batter occurred in the ninth inning of the Mets’ 6-0 loss to the Brewers at American Family Field, when Jake Cousins spiked a slider into Luis Guillorme’s left foot. That moved the Mets past the 2021 Reds, who were hit by 105 pitches to set the modern record (since 1900). The 1889 Orioles hold the overall record with 160 hit batsmen.
For the Mets, it’s been a season-long scourge. The trend of hit batsmen has resulted in everything from multiple benches-clearing fracases in April to a handful of injuries over the course of the summer, including a fractured right middle finger that currently has outfielder Starling Marte on the IL.
“I don’t really know what to think of it,” said Brandon Nimmo, who held the individual franchise record before Canha. “Teams are having to try and figure out ways to get us out. I guess that’s part of the way — they’re trying to pitch inside, so you’re going to get hit when that happens.”
Manager Buck Showalter frequently says he has a theory as to why the Mets have been hit so often, but he does not wish to espouse it publicly. Popular explanations include the willingness of pitchers to pitch inside; the increased velocity of breaking pitches and resulting lack of control; and MLB’s recent ban of “sticky stuff” and other grip enhancements.
Whatever the reason, the three highest HBP totals in the modern era have all occurred in the last two years. And the highest now belongs to the Mets, who are no better off for the distinction.
“Not a single one of them are intentional,” said Showalter, who jokingly requested the record-breaking ball. “Obviously, there’s an issue there somewhere.”