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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cameron: FG on Fox: Maybe Hitters Are Being Too Passive

If this lasts, it would mark the first season ever recorded — as far back as Baseball-Reference’s data for that split goes anyway, which for this specific number is 1988 — where the OPS on at-bats with a first pitch swing was higher than the OPS on at-bats with a first pitch take. For most of the last 25 years, it hasn’t even been close.

bobm Posted: June 14, 2014 at 09:44 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: first pitch

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:22 PM (#4726407)
italics contamination
   2. bobm Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:24 PM (#4726409)
Aah! Sorry.
   3. kthejoker Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:46 PM (#4726424)
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:52 PM (#4726431)
Fixed?
   5. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:53 PM (#4726432)
Jose! Jose!
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:53 PM (#4726433)
Jose Sucks! Jose Sucks!
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:54 PM (#4726435)
But yes even in italics I think hitters in general are too passive. Patience is good but it needs to be a controlled patience. Taking pitches for the sake of taking pitches is rarely a good move. Major League hitters are Major League hitters because they are good hitters. One of my pet peeves is how willing hitters are to sit back on 3-0 pitches. You are getting a cookie, launch it to a gap somewhere.
   8. steagles Posted: June 14, 2014 at 11:59 PM (#4726441)
</i>

test test test.
test test test.
   9. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:22 AM (#4726450)
Works in here, but I assume the front page can't get fixed without the post itself getting edited.
   10. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:52 AM (#4726456)
Quoted quote is amazing. It's almost like if 3-point shooting percentage was higher than 2-point shooting percentage because every player on defense was terrified of dunks and layups. OK guys, there are many ways to play defense and you should be prioritizing some others as well.

One thing I like about Cameron is that he notices when things change. A lot of sabermetricians spend all their time trying to decode the eternal truths. But there are trends, and some things may go from being good decisions to bad decisions based on the context.
   11. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:53 AM (#4726457)
One of my pet peeves is how willing hitters are to sit back on 3-0 pitches. You are getting a cookie, launch it to a gap somewhere.

Or you get another wide one. Take it, then take your base. Beats swinging wildly and hitting a meek groundout.
   12. Bhaakon Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:58 AM (#4726460)
Or you get another wide one. Take it, then take your base. Beats swinging wildly and hitting a meek groundout.


Often time you get another wide one, take it, and then continue on in a 3-1 count.

Plus not swinging 3-0 in blowout* is one of those unwritten rule thingies, apparently. *The definition of what constitutes a blowout seems to vary wildly.
   13. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: June 15, 2014 at 01:11 AM (#4726463)
I came here just for the italics fix. Made me giggle like nuts when I saw the italics all over the front page.

What the HELL has my life come to. I blame it on Ernesto Frieri.
   14. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 15, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4726465)
Or you get another wide one. Take it, then take your base. Beats swinging wildly and hitting a meek groundout.


And that's fine. But, particularly with RISP, if you get that cookie use it. A decent MLB hitter should be able to look for his pitch in that situation and hit it hard.
   15. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: June 15, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4726468)
A decent MLB hitter should be able to look for his pitch in that situation and hit it hard.

I wish that some of these guys who are playing in MLB games actually *were* Major League-quality hitters. Too many hack away on 3-0 or 3-1 when the pitch had no chance of coming near the strike zone. That experience informed my original comment.

Somebody was complaining about that tonight in the OMNICHATTER, possibly in that Angels game. The guy worked a 3-0 count, then foul, foul, swing at ball 4. Sit down.

It's all good in theory, but pitchers exploit bad hitters in just this way, and bad hitters seem to outnumber good hitters any more. </bitterfan>
   16. bookbook Posted: June 15, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4726494)
It ain't like the good old days
   17. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:35 PM (#4726518)
Take it, then take your base.

Don't play lawyer-ball, son.
   18. Baldrick Posted: June 15, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4726528)
It's all good in theory, but pitchers exploit bad hitters in just this way, and bad hitters seem to outnumber good hitters any more.

What on earth are you talking about?
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 15, 2014 at 03:36 PM (#4726658)
Well, back in the olden days pitchers had to really use maximum effort on every hitter because they could all punish a mistake, whereas nowadays the lineups have a bunch of automatic outs. That's why complete games are proliferating and pitchers aren't getting injured anymore.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: June 15, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4726791)
I'm confused by the conclusion.

Batters are being more successful on first pitch swings than first pitch takes ... presumably because they are making perfectly good decisions about which pitches to swing at and which to take. If they started swinging at more first pitches, OPS on those PAs would most likely go down with no reason to expect OPS on taking PAs to go up.

So far in 2014, they have swung at 27% of first pitches, contact on 11% (so about 40% of swings). When they make contact, they continue to mash with an 887 OPS (339/542 ... oops, need a small adjustment for HBP that I'm too lazy to make. That puts swing non-contact at about a 647 OPS.

In 2008, they swung at 27.6% of first pitches, contact on 11.7%, had an OPS of 888 on contact and 742 overall (compared to 751 if they took). So OPS after swing non-contact has gone down dramatically.

That is not an argument for swinging at more first pitches.

I'm surprised the ratios are essentially the same in 2008. 2007 is at 27.8% and contact at 11.9% so this might be more stable than I thought. I know you folks who are ultra-sensitive to the aesthetics of the game can tell the dramatic difference between a 27% first-pitch swing rate and a 27.9% one but us mortals have a hard time with it.

On first pitches in 2007 they did hit for a 901 OPS but still 745 overall.

Maybe there's something more insightful in the full article or maybe there's something more interesting if I dug deeper into the numbers. But I worry this is old school sabermetric mis-thinking. It is the decision to swing that produces the results, not the results that determine the decision to swing. Batters can't swing at more first pitches without affecting the average outcome of swinging at first pitches -- i.e. swinging at more first pitches almost certainly entails swinging at more bad first pitches. There appears to have been little change first-pitch swing rates and not that much change in first-pitch contact outcomes.

   21. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:53 PM (#4726918)
I may be misremembering, but I thought offense was down because of strikeouts. So ball in play results are roughly the same. Walk rate is roughly the same. Homer rate is roughly the same. So you'd expect results consistent with recent history when the first two pitches are offered at, but ops to be lower with two strike counts.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: June 16, 2014 at 03:37 AM (#4727095)
#21 ... yes. And I'll expect your subscription to my newsletter in tomorrow's post. :-)

What surprises me is that the ratio of first pitch swings and the proportion contact has remained so steady while also producing the same results. The trend you've mentioned has the same outcomes but with a lot less contact overall.

We've discussed first pitch results, etc. before and the longer-term trend had been for less contact on first pitches but better results -- I think the "first pitch swing" split is new, I've certainly never noticed it before. But either I am mis-remembering or I looked at odd years last time (or odd years this time) ... or that longer-term trend has stabilized. Maybe I looked at proportion of "strikes" resulting in contact ... more first pitch strikes, same first pitch swing and contact rates could result in higher proportion of 0-1 counts when taking.
   23. villageidiom Posted: June 16, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4727115)
One thing I like about Cameron is that he notices when things change. A lot of sabermetricians spend all their time trying to decode the eternal truths. But there are trends, and some things may go from being good decisions to bad decisions based on the context.
He's a Mariners fan. He needs to believe that things change.

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