Just How Rare Is a 14-Pitch Plate Appearance?

Yesterday, Xander Bogaerts had a 14-pitch battle with Phil Hughes. Hughes eventually won, as Bogaerts hit a weak fly ball to center field. But it got me wondering just how rare of an event this was. The venerable Jeff Zimmerman was kind enough to help me find out this very thing:

Number of Pitches Per Plate Appearance, 1988-2013
# Pitches # PA % PA
1 631,119 13.359%
2 800,149 16.936%
3 837,115 17.719%
4 897,454 18.996%
5 749,260 15.859%
6 482,813 10.219%
7 202,335 4.283%
8 78,532 1.662%
9 29,122 0.616%
10 10,501 0.222%
11 3,844 0.081%
12 1,436 0.030%
13 507 0.011%
14 160 0.003%
15 68 0.001%
16 24 0.001%
17 8 0.000%
18 4 0.000%
19 1 0.000%
20 1 0.000%
Total 4,724,453

The numbers were pulled from Retrosheet, so this year’s data is not yet there. Still, you get the idea. Pretty freaking rare–0.003 percent. Dave Cameron is fond of saying that you should never need more than one decimal place, and using his rule, you’d basically say that 14-pitch battles never happen.

And from a player perspective, the patience and bat control necessary to achieve such a plate appearance seem even more rare. The below list is sorted by player, and you can see that there are several players here multiple times–41 by my quick count. And if I had more time to parse this list, I think we would find that there aren’t a lot of 21-year-old rookies on it, either.

Players with 14-pitch or more Plate Appearances, 1988-2013
Player # Pitches Game_ID
A.J. Pierzynski 14 MIN200308120
Adam Jones 14 KCA201105050
Adam Kennedy 18 ANA200406100
Adrian Gonzalez 15 MIN201204250
Adrian Gonzalez 15 ANA200504070
Albert Belle 16 BAL200004280
Alcides Escobar 14 CLE201107310
Alex Cora 15 CLE200604270
Alex Cora 18 LAN200405120
Alex Gonzalez 14 FLO200309260
Alex Gonzalez 14 MON200309070
Alexei Ramirez 14 CHA201004080
Andre Dawson 14 CIN199207220
Andrelton Simmons 14 ATL201207010
Andres Blanco 14 OAK200605290
Andres Torres 16 SFN201107050
Andruw Jones 14 BOS201109010
Andruw Jones 14 NYN199907020
Andy Van Slyke 15 PHI199106010
Andy VanSlyke 15 PHI199106010
Angel Berroa 14 LAN200306050
Angel Berroa 14 LAN200306050
Anthony Gose 14 TOR201309010
Ben Petrick 14 COL200007171
Benji Gil 15 ANA200005170
Billy Hatcher 14 MON199005260
Billy McMillon 14 FLO199608080
Bip Roberts 14 ATL198908010
Bip Roberts 14 KCA199705180
Brady Anderson 14 TBA200008050
Brandon Belt 16 SFN201109040
Brandon Inge 15 OAK200604200
Brent Mayne 15 MIL200006020
Bret Barberie 14 MON199204220
Brett Gardner 14 TEX201307220
Brett Gardner 15 BOS201307210
Brian Downing 18 CAL199009010
Brian Giles 16 CLE199005180
Brian Jordan 14 SLN199809230
Brian McCann 14 ATL201308300
Brian Roberts 15 BAL200705060
Bryan LaHair 14 CHN201205160
Butch Huskey 14 FLO199709220
C Worthington 14 BAL198908080
Carlos Baerga 15 CLE199508050
Carlos Beltran 14 KCA200207110
Carlos Guillen 15 SEA200304150
Carlos Guillen 15 MIN200707180
Carlos Lee 14 KCA200108220
Carlos Lee 14 HOU200706010
Carlos Lee 15 DET200009180
Carlos Pena 14 TBA201205180
Casey Kotchman 15 ANA200406020
Chris Hoiles 17 CAL199105050
Chris Parmelee 14 OAK201309200
Chris Sabo 14 PHI199106160
Chris Sabo 14 CIN199305160
Cliff Floyd 15 NYN200607210
Cliff Pennington 14 OAK200908040
Cory Sullivan 17 LAN200708190
Craig Biggio 14 HOU199806220
Craig Biggio 16 HOU200607270
Craig Grebeck 14 TOR199905290
Craig Worthington 14 BAL198908080
Cristian Guzman 14 MIL200306210
Curtis Pride 14 KCA199605270
D Strawberry 14 SFN198805130
Dale Sveum 14 MIL199105270
Dale Sveum 15 BOS199004160
Dan Johnson 14 SDN200606290
Dan Wilson 14 SEA200405180
Danny Heep 15 BOS198906040
Danny Valencia 14 CLE201108120
Dante Bichette 15 COL199805170
Darren Bragg 17 SEA199506160
Darrin Fletcher 14 SEA200007300
Darryl Strawberry 14 SFN198805130
Dave Justice 15 CLE199710220
Dave Magadan 14 FLO199306020
Dave Martinez 15 CHN198906230
Dave Martinez 15 BOS199606040
David Bell 14 SEA200105160
David Bell 15 SEA199905010
David Justice 15 CLE199710220
David Ortiz 14 BOS201106200
Dean Palmer 14 OAK199109280
Delino DeShields 14 HOU200107200
Denny Neagle 14 ATL200105170
Derek Jeter 14 CLE200105260
Derek Jeter 14 DET200209210
Derek Jeter 15 ANA201106030
Desi Relaford 14 SDN200009050
DJ LeMahieu 14 TOR201306190
Dwight Smith 14 SDN199006300
Eddie Murray 14 CLE199510140
Edgar Renteria 14 SLN200304020
Edgar Renteria 14 SDN199705240
Emilio Bonifacio 14 WAS201204200
Emilio Bonifacio 14 PIT201008160
Enrique Wilson 14 CLE199908190
Eric Bruntlett 14 PHI200804190
Erik Komatsu 14 CIN201204110
Frank Thomas 17 KCA200404070
Freddy Sanchez 17 PIT200904160
Gabe Kapler 14 BAL200105270
Garrett Atkins 14 CHN200904150
Gary Matthews 14 TOR200208020
Gary Matthews Jr. 14 TOR200208020
Gene Petralli 14 BAL199005200
Geno Petralli 14 BAL199005200
Geoff Blum 14 HOU200207130
Gordon Beckham 14 BAL201108080
Greg Gagne 14 DET199305050
Greg Gagne 15 KCA199505140
Greg Zaun 16 COL199809070
Gregg Zaun 16 COL199809070
Gregor Blanco 15 TEX200806190
Hideki Matsui 14 TBA200609250
Ichiro Suzuki 14 SEA200209200
Ichiro Suzuki 15 TEX200508230
J.T. Snow 14 COL199910030
J.T. Snow 15 SFN200504070
J.T. Snow 15 CAL199607020
J.T. Snow 16 SDN200209130
Jack Clark 14 CHA199105030
Jack Howell 15 CHA198804060
Jay Bell 14 PIT198909010
Jay Bruce 14 WAS201006050
Jeff Baker 15 TEX201306120
Jeff Blauser 15 SLN199307070
Jeff Cirillo 14 MIL199508140
Jeff Tackett 15 NYA199207300
Jermaine Dye 14 SEA200009130
Jermaine Dye 16 TEX199805220
Jeromy Burnitz 14 CHN199809110
Jeromy Burnitz 15 PHI199907070
Jerry Hairston 14 MIL201105240
Jimmy Rollins 15 LAN201108100
Jody Reed 15 BOS199108010
Joe Carter 14 DET199306110
Joe Carter 15 MIN199306140
Joe Randa 14 KCA200304030
Joey Belle 16 BAL200004280
John Marzano 15 SEA199704090
John Valentin 14 MIN199507060
Johnny Damon 15 SLN199806300
Johnny Damon 16 NYA200410130
Jonny Gomes 15 PIT200806280
Jordan Brown 14 TBA201305270
Jorge Cantu 14 SDN201104210
Jose Bautista 15 TOR201009100
Jose Canseco 14 TOR199904120
Jose Canseco 14 NYA199404070
Jose Lind 14 ATL198908190
Jose Lind 14 HOU199205030
Jose Lopez 14 SEA200905010
Josh Willingham 14 SLN201005170
Juan Francisco 16 ATL201207050
Juan Gonzalez 15 TEX200307130
Juan Samuel 15 CIN199307190
Juan Uribe 14 CHA200609180
Justin Smoak 16 BAL201308040
Karim Garcia 16 COL199806020
Kaz Matsui 14 HOU200707010
Kaz Matsui 15 SFN201005150
Kazuo Matsui 14 HOU200707010
Kazuo Matsui 15 SFN201005150
Kelly Johnson 14 SLN200808230
Ken Huckaby 14 TOR200207200
Kevin Bass 19 HOU198807230
Kevin Jordan 14 NYN199709080
Kevin Jordan 15 NYN199807190
Kevin Mench 14 CHA200505170
Kevin Seitzer 15 NYA199208260
Kevin Youkilis 14 BOS201205250
Kevin Youkilis 14 KCA201207130
Kirt Manwaring 16 SFN199306210
Lee Mazzilli 15 NYN198907172
Leo Gomez 14 MIL199104170
Luis Castillo 14 FLO199908240
Luis Rodriguez 16 SDN200907160
Manny Ramirez 14 CLE199708132
Manuel Lee 14 CAL199007120
Mark Ellis 14 ARI201307100
Mark Kotsay 15 SDN200106300
Mark Loretta 14 HOU200806250
Mark McLemore 14 ANA200010010
Mark Teahen 14 MIN200908130
Mark Teixeira 15 TEX200506170
Marlon Byrd 14 PIT201308280
Marquis Grissom 14 CHN199809130
Marty Barrett 17 BOS198906040
Matt Walbeck 14 NYA199808270
Matthew Joyce 14 TBA201305270
Mel Hall 14 CLE198807270
Melvin Mora 14 BOS200907240
Michael Cuddyer 14 COL201309250
Michael McKenry 14 ATL201107260
Mickey Morandini 16 PHI199209261
Miguel Cabrera 14 DET200806110
Mike Benjamin 14 PIT200007290
Mike Difelice 15 SLN199706141
Mike Jacobs 14 NYN200609200
Mike Kelly 16 NYA199809240
Mike Lamb 16 TEX200606300
Mike Lowell 15 FLO200107250
Mike Marshall 16 CHA199009140
Mike Morse 14 WAS201009290
Mike Redmond 14 MIN200807190
Mike Scioscia 14 CIN199006240
Mitch Webster 14 PIT199105240
Nate Schierholtz 15 SDN200709150
Nomar Garciaparra 14 BOS200205250
Omar Vizquel 15 NYA200106030
Orlando Cabrera 15 SDN200906190
Orlando Palmeiro 14 ANA199709160
Orlando Palmeiro 14 DET200105110
Pat Listach 17 MIL199209260
Paul Lo Duca 14 COL200707040
Paul LoDuca 14 COL200707040
Paul O’Neill 15 CIN199109300
Pedro Guerrero 15 SLN198904250
Pedro Munoz 14 MIN199308210
Pete Schourek 14 LAN199107300
Rafael Ramirez 14 HOU198806280
Raul Chavez 14 HOU200308240
Reid Brignac 15 TEX201006060
Richard Hidalgo 14 SLN199906210
Rick Ankiel 17 SLN200804160
Ricky Gutierrez 20 CLE199806260
Roberto Alomar 14 CIN200007070
Roberto Alomar 14 CHA199310120
Robin Yount 14 DET198809010
Ron Karkovice 14 CHA199607280
Rondell White 15 CHN200106240
Ronny Cedeno 16 CHN200606150
Ruben Tejada 16 NYN201105270
Rusty Ryal 16 CIN201009130
Ryan Braun 14 MIL201208010
Ryan Raburn 14 SEA201005260
Sal Fasano 14 SEA199605100
Sandy Alomar 14 CLE199606180
Sandy Alomar Jr. 14 CLE199606180
Scott Podsednik 14 HOU200309250
Scott Rolen 14 SLN200708070
Scott Rolen 15 MIN200805130
Scott Rolen 15 ARI201208280
Scott Stahoviak 14 MIN199608160
Shane Victorino 15 CLE200706200
Shelley Duncan 14 CLE201205080
Skip Schumaker 14 SLN200906020
Stan Javier 14 CAL199308010
Terrmel Sledge 16 MON200407070
Tino Martinez 14 TBA200408210
Toby Hall 15 TBA200306100
Todd Benzinger 14 NYA199108140
Todd Helton 14 COL200905060
Todd Helton 14 SFN200508290
Todd Helton 15 COL200005130
Todd Helton 15 COL201108200
Todd Helton 16 LAN200108300
Todd Hundley 14 NYN199608130
Tom Browning 15 CIN198905240
Tom Glavine 14 HOU199106250
Tom Pagnozzi 14 LAN199109020
Tony Graffanino 14 PHI200206200
Tony Phillips 14 OAK198907220
Tony Womack 14 PHI200008140
Travis Snider 14 TOR201008010
Victor Martinez 15 BOS201006130
Wes Helms 14 PHI200704270
Willie Bloomquist 15 KCA200906300
Wilson Delgado 14 FLO200409080
Yadier Molina 14 SLN201208190

Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.
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Expanding on this table in excel…

100% of PA have at least 1 pitch, 86.64% have 2 pitches…etc etc. 2.63% see 8 pitches, and a 9 pitch or greater at bat only occurs around 1% of the time.


I see some duplicates. Daryl and D Strawberry are the same person, as are Paul Lo Duca and Paul LoDuca, Sandy Alomar and Sandy Alomar Jr., Gene Petralli and Geno Petralli, and so forth.

What about the outcomes? Who is first to give up, the pitcher or the batter, or is it evenly divided?

I was pretty sure Miguel Cabrera would be there. But Emilio Bonifacio, twice??


I’m surprised to not see Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn listed, they appeared to be able to spoil pitches with foul balls at will. Todd Helton five times is something.

Jon L.
Jon L.

Looking at the numbers, it looks like when at at-bat gets to the 6th pitch, there’s a nearly 60% chance of it being the last pitch. After that, the number is slightly higher – around 63% – for each additional pitch. So you buck the odds for quite a while to get up to that 14th pitch. I wonder what’s the latest in an at-bat that a ball has been called? Or the latest one that’s not ball 4? I can imagine a guy fouling off 10 straight pitches, and then taking one to let the count go full as… Read more »


Andy Van Slyke with two 15-pitches on the same day??
Or is that a mistake.


That’s a duplicate entry for Van Slyke – he had one 15-pitch AB that day, in the 1st inning. He struck out.


Watching A.J. Pierzynski hacks his way through this season with Boston, I’m shocked that he had a 14-pitch AB. That actually seems like a high total for him for an entire game in 2014.


With Kotchman doing it as a 21yr old rookie, and Gose and Snider as 22yr old rookies (from a quick incomplete scan), i’m not sure this is the indicator of future awesome you’re looking for.


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Laurent, I agree. I wrote a about a recent performance of On the Transmigration of Souls in Baltimore this past April. I agree that it is still a powerful work. I am not sure that it will ever the power of something like Britten’s War Requiem, but I am waiting to see how I feel in another five years.Mark is really writing about the lack of a great work of visual art.


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Wow, Denny Neagle, a pitcher. I wonder how many others made the list?


I noticed Glavine up there too


I remember the Ruben Tejada at-bat. He drew a walk off Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo.

Señor Spielbergo
Señor Spielbergo

Wow, Joe Carter had two of those within a four-day span…


Carter had occasional stretches where he would continually rip hard liners into the left field stands, typically well foul. Pitchers would keep trying the same pitches, because he rarely threatened to hit one fair, and he would just keep smoking foul liners. Sometimes it would happen as he emerged from a lengthly slump, but that doesn’t apply here, looking at the season log.

So what was the overall split for the PAs here? I’d guess .300/.450/.500


Still remember Alex Cora’s 18 pitch at bat. He ended it with a homerun. One of the most amazing at bats I’ve ever watched.


That ’03 Renteria AB ended with a walkoff grand slam against the Cubs. It was glorious.


Need to add Derek Norris to this list. 14 pitch AB last night against Tampa Bay – ended in a walk.


Derek Norris just did it yesterday!!!


What were the most CONSEQUENTIAL long plate appearances? Certainly Jayson Werth’s 12-pitch AB (culminating in his walk-off HR in 2012 NLDS Game 4) has to rank up there.