Jon Jay is taking a page from the playbooks of former Cardinals leadoff batters Fernando Vina and David Eckstein.
Jay, the 2012 Cardinals’ center fielder, leads the team this season in most times hit by a pitch, with 13. That’s the most times a Cardinal has been hit by a pitch since Eckstein, with 15, in 2006.
(Updated Oct. 4: Jay was hit by a pitch 15 times in 2012.)
Eckstein, a shortstop who usually batted leadoff, had three consecutive seasons of double-digit hit-by-pitch totals for the Cardinals _ 13 in 2005, 15 in 2006 and 12 in 2007.
As effective as Eckstein was at reaching base by getting hit by a pitch, another contemporary Cardinals leadoff batter and infielder, second baseman Fernando Vina, was even better.
In 2000, his first season with the Cardinals, Vina was hit by a pitch 28 times. That was just three off the Cardinals’ single-season record of 31, established by right fielder Steve Evans in 1910. With 31, Evans still holds the major-league record of most times hit by a pitch in a season for a left-handed batter.
Vina had three more seasons of double-figure hit-by-pitch totals for the Cardinals _ 22 in 2001, 18 in 2002 and 11 in 2003.
Evans holds the Cardinals career hit-by-pitch record (87), followed by Vina (79) and first baseman Albert Pujols (77).
According to his online biography by the Society for American Baseball Research, Evans was a prankster who developed a skill for being hit by a pitch: On one occasion Steve was hit in the jaw (“while the fans were certain his jaw had been broken, he merely laughed,” wrote a reporter), and on another he set a record by being hit three times in a single game against Brooklyn.
With 28 in 2000, Vina was the last Cardinal to finish a season as the National League leader in most times hit by a pitch. He achieved that total even though he was on the disabled list for two weeks in June because of a hamstring injury and sat out 14 September games because of a rib injury.
Reported The Sporting News: Fernando Vina is the key to jump-starting the team’s offense … When Vina gets on, it makes it easier for No. 2 hitter (J.D.) Drew to hit the ball in the hole.
Cardinals outfielder Lonnie Smith led the NL in most times hit by a pitch for three consecutive seasons, 1982, ’83 and ’84. In each season, he was struck nine times. (Smith shared the 1983 lead with Expos outfielder Andre Dawson).
The only other Cardinal in the last 50 years to lead the NL in most times hit by a pitch was first baseman Orlando Cepeda, who did it twice. He was struck 14 times in 1966 (13 as a Cardinal and once as a Giant) and 12 times in 1967. (Cepeda shared the 1966 lead with Dodgers outfielder Lou Johnson).