I recently saw the documentary Fastball. In the film, Bob Gibson mentions that his reputation as someone who would plunk players to intimidate them wasn't quite as warranted as it was. He then mentions that if you look at the numbers, he never hit as many players as people thought he did.
So I looked at his plunking numbers compared to some other random Hall of Famers, and this one blew me away.
Bob Gibson - 102 HBP, 0.02626 HBP per inning.
Greg Maddux - 137 HBP, 0.02736 HBP per inning.
Greg Maddux, who was well regarded as one of the best control pitchers in baseball history, hit more players per inning than Bob Gibson in his career.
Of course baseball was different when Maddux played and some believe that players crowd the plate more in modern times. Here's some random Hall of Fame contemporaries to compare Bob Gibson to, sorted by HBP per inning:
Sandy Koufax - 18 HBP, 0.00775 HBP per inning
Jim Palmer - 38 HBP, 0.00963 HBP per inning
Steve Carlton - 53 HBP, 0.01016 HBP per inning
Juan Marichal - 40 HBP, 0.01141 HBP per inning.
Catfish Hunter - 49 HBP, 0.01421 HBP per inning
Don Sutton - 82 HBP, 0.01552 HBP per inning
Tom Seaver - 75 HBP, 0.01589 HBP per inning
Ferguson Jenkins - 84 HBP, 0.01867 HBP per inning.
Gaylord Perry - 108 HBP, 0.02019 HBP per inning
Phil Niekro - 123 HBP, 0.02276 HBP per inning
Hoyt Wilhelm - 62 HBP, 0.02751 HBP per inning
Nolan Ryan - 158 HBP, 0.02934 HBP per inning
Bert Blyleven - 155 HBP, 0.03119 HBP per inning
Don Drysdale - 154 HBP, 0.04487 HBP per inning
So while Gibson is on the higher end of this mini survey, it does
seem his reputation as an intimidating plunker may not be as warranted
as it is.
While skimming through Hall of Famers, I did find it interesting how many plunks some recent Hall of Famers had.
Randy Johnson - 190 HBP, 0.04595 HBP per inning
Pedro Martinez - 141 HBP, 0.04988 HBP per inning
These were the highest by far of all the players I looked at.