Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Saturday, March 21, 2020

First Pitch Follies

One of the joys of baseball, and sports in general, is that the narrative arc of the game isn’t preordained. You can’t know when the most important pitch of the game will be before the game starts. This isn’t a TV procedural, where nothing decisive can happen in the first 20 minutes. The visiting team might go up 3-0 in the first inning and never relinquish the lead, or they might rally furiously from down five only to lose in the bottom of the ninth.

Even though the most exciting pitch of the game isn’t a given, one thing more or less is: the first pitch of a game won’t be the most exciting one. That’s partially due to the rules of baseball — no one is on base, and most at-bats take more than one pitch — but the first pitch is unique in its own way. For one, no one swings. Combining the first pitches thrown by each starter in a game, batters swing at 23% of offerings, significantly lower than the 29% overall swing rate on 0-0 counts.

Secondly, it’s almost always a fastball. Sam Miller delved into the thinking behind game-opening fastballs, and pretty much everything from his piece still holds. Pitchers throw fastballs because batters don’t swing, and batters don’t swing because they already don’t swing much on 0-0, and particularly so when they haven’t seen the pitcher throw anything yet.

But batters aren’t static opponents. In 2010, they swung at 25.1% of 0-0 pitches. In 2019, that number was a meaty 29.4%. Strikeouts are rising, pitchers are fastball-happy on 0-0 counts, and batters increasingly can’t afford to hang around waiting for something to hit given the decline in overall fastball usage.

Disappointingly, this isn’t about ceremonial first pitches- but it still has interest in other regards.

 

QLE Posted: March 21, 2020 at 01:30 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: first pitch

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Vegas Watch
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogEx-Dodgers star Carl Crawford arrested on assault charge
(9 - 5:57pm, Jun 05)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(5017 - 5:57pm, Jun 05)
Last: Der-K's emotional investment is way up

NewsblogMLB formally rejects union proposal, leaving 2020 season in doubt
(7 - 5:54pm, Jun 05)
Last: Zach

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 6-5-2020
(10 - 5:51pm, Jun 05)
Last: Itchy Row

NewsblogMLB announcers will broadcast road games remotely in 2020 season, per report
(2 - 5:49pm, Jun 05)
Last: Buck Coats

Hall of Merit2021 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(294 - 5:32pm, Jun 05)
Last: kcgard2

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (June 2020)
(41 - 5:31pm, Jun 05)
Last: Ben Broussard Ramjet

NewsblogOT – NBA CoronaThread 2020
(3268 - 5:31pm, Jun 05)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogAZSnakepit James Attwood: Should Rob Manfred Drop the Hammer ?
(4 - 4:28pm, Jun 05)
Last: Sunday silence

NewsblogInside MLB's financials fight -- and the numbers to solve it
(2 - 2:23pm, Jun 05)
Last: Mayor Blomberg

NewsblogSources: MLB inclined to allow local governments to decide if fans are allowed at potential games
(4 - 1:02pm, Jun 05)
Last: Greg Pope

NewsblogChris Archer out until 2021 due to thoracic outlet surgery
(35 - 12:51pm, Jun 05)
Last: CFBF's Overflowing Pathos

NewsblogFiveThirtyEight: How Much Money Do MLB Players Really Make?
(1 - 11:58am, Jun 05)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogReigning CL MVP Hayato Sakamoto one of two Giants players to test positive for COVID-19
(14 - 7:49am, Jun 05)
Last: Sunday silence

NewsblogOT Soccer Thread - Spring 2020
(249 - 6:54am, Jun 05)
Last: Fancy Pants Handle struck out swinging

-->

Page rendered in 0.2388 seconds
44 querie(s) executed