Here are some nuggets about what happens on the first pitch of an at-bat:
- Hitters swing at the first pitch 27 percent of the time overall. They offer about 39 percent of the time when the pitch is located within the strike zone, and 15 percent when it's out of the zone. Pitchers, meanwhile, throw 53 percent of their offerings in the zone on the first pitch.
- When hitters do swing at the first pitch, they have a collective .330 batting average and a .522 slugging percentage. That's not necessarily to say that batters should suddenly start letting it rip much more often on the first pitch. Rather, hitters choose to swing at the first pitch because it's a cookie. Take a look at the frequency of pitchers' location when hitters decide to swing at the first pitch:
Right down the heart of the plate. But maybe you could make the argument that hitters should be more aggressive on the first pitch when the pitcher throws a meatball: hitters swing at 47 percent of first pitches that are located middle-middle in the strike zone. So more than half the time, they're letting a juicy pitch cross the plate for strike one.
- Here's a breakdown of pitch usage in first-pitch situtations by right-handers and left-handers. Lefties go to a fastball or sinker a bit more often than righties:
- Do pitchers sacrifice velocity on their fastballs in an attempt to better locate on the first pitch? Possibly, though the effect is small. Right-handers average 91.6 mph with the fastball on the first pitch, compared to 92.1 mph in all other counts. Lefty fastballs average 90.5 mph on the first pitch, and 90.9 mph in all other counts. There's no difference in terms of movement on the pitches.