On Wednesday night, Brayan Pena got walked in the 9th inning by the Blue Jays which brought up Alcides Escobar. It was mentioned in the Game Day Thread that it looked like teams are treating Escobar like a pitcher and walking the players in front of him to make him beat them. Escobar has been slated into the 9th position in all but 10 games this season, so Yost thinks he is the worst hitter on the team not name Mitch Maier.
Well, teams aren't blatantly treating him like a pitcher. Not one #8 hitter has been issued an IBB this season. It does though seem that pitchers aren't giving the 8th hitters any good pitches to hit. In the 63 games played so far this season, 3 players, Getz (10 games), Pena(18 games) and Treanor (32 games), have mainly started in the #8 spot. Each of the three have a higher walk rate when in the 8th then when they hit any where else in the lineup.
|Name||BB% - 8th Spot||BB% - Other|
Each player walks at least 3% more in the 8th spot compared to when they hit else where. Heck, Pena has only walked when hitting in the 8th spot this season. It makes sense that teams don't want a hitter that could actually hit the ball out of the ball park to beat them. They might as well let the guy that averages 1 home runs every 146 plate appearances in the majors and minors try to beat them. There is no way to be 100% sure if pitchers are not letting our #8 hitter beat them, but it sure seems that way.
Bonus useless data
When looking at the data I noticed that Treanor had a high K% (17%) and BB% (20%). I decided to look at where he stood compared to the rest of the team (min 140 PA) and league in true outcomes (BB, SO, HBP and HR). He comes out with the teams highest total (40%) with Betemit (33%) and Gordon (32%) being the next closest. In the league he is 23 out of 246 players with names like Brad Hawpe and Matt Kemp having similar percentages.
In keeping with the article, the lowest ranked Royals was Escobar with 16% true outcome at bats. He was ranked 238 out of 246 when looking at all players.