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A look at why D-backs OF Tim Locastro is a hit-by-pitch machine

Arizona Diamondbacks' Tim Locastro gets hit by a Texas Rangers pitch during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Tim Locastro is fourth in the majors with 14 hit-by-pitches.

The leader, Derek Dietrich of the Cincinnati Reds, has 20.

Dietrich, however, has played in 86 games.

Locastro has played in just 49.

The other two players ahead of Locastro in hit-by-pitches (HBP), Washington’s Victor Robles and the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, have 16 and 15, respectively.

They have played 89 and 91 games, respectively.

Locastro is getting HBPs at an unprecedented rate this season.

For a backup outfielder, Locastro produces at a decent clip. He’s hitting .254, has 13 RBIs and has even smacked a two walk-off hits this season. But Locastro does one thing extremely well: gets hit by pitches and therefore gets on base.

His on-base percentage stands at .377, a number that would have him ranked in the top 20 of MLB if he qualified (minimum 3.1 plate appearances per game). Without the 14 HBPs he’s taken, that number drops to .275.

So how has Locastro done it?

“As soon as I saw that it was coming inside, I’m taking that 100 times out of 100,” Locastro said of a pitch he was hit by after a game against Mets in early June.

Locastro might be leaning in a bit, but it’s not an adjustment that occurs as the pitch is coming toward him. Locastro doesn’t really adjust at all. He just does what any other batter does when a pitch isn’t headed for them — stands in the box and attempts to hit the ball.

“It hurts a little bit,” he said. “Tomorrow it’ll hurt a bit in the morning. But then, [come] game time, the adrenaline will get going a bit and I’ll be ready to go.”

He’s been called a player from the 1930s with his grittiness.

“I’ve heard that a million times,” Locastro said.

“When an opportunity like that presents itself where I can get on base … anyway I can. Then I can try and score,” he said.

Locastro isn’t getting beaned by one specific pitch. Exactly half of his 14 HBPs have come from fastballs, but Locastro has been hit by three sinkers and three changeups, plus two curveballs and a cutter as well.

It’s where Locastro stands that makes him susceptible to getting hit. Check out his position (top) to the plate in comparison to fellow D-backs outfielder Adam Jones (bottom), who is second on the team with six HBPs. Jones has played 85 games, 36 more than Locastro.

(Screenshot/MLB.com)

(Screenshot/MLB.com)

Locastro stands closer to the pitcher and closer to the plate than Jones. This puts pressure on the pitchers to adjust to Locastro, and not on Locastro to adjust mid-pitch to a ball that is screaming in his direction.

An example of that can be found in Locastro’s record-setting, three-HBP game against the Giants in May, which the screenshot above was taken from.

In the first HBP, Drew Pomeranz throws a curveball. The pitch gets away from the ninth-year pitcher, but Pomeranz throughout his whole career has attempted to throw most of his curveballs to that spot, low and inside. Locastro’s plate presence makes it a HBP rather than a ball or wild pitch.

In the second hit-by-pitch that day, a rising fastball from Nick Vincent plunks Locastro, and in the third, a four-seamer from Derek Holland does the same. Vincent’s pitch, though missing badly, is also like Pomeranz’s. Vincent has tried to go to that spot with his fastball this season. Locastro’s cramming of the plate makes the consequences of the miss much worse.

Holland’s fastball hits Locastro square in the hip. Like the others, that’s the area that he tries to put his fastballs at this season. Locastro, being up so close to the plate combined with his refusal to back away from the ball, makes the miss a HBP rather than a ball well inside.

His plate cramming should force pitchers to start moving their spots.

Comparing Locastro’s stance to Dietrich’s, you can see that Dietrich’s ability to get hit by pitches is quite impressive, considering he stands even farther away from the plate than Jones does.

(Screenshot/MLB.com)

Perhaps Locastro could teach Dietrich a couple of things.

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