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Entries in First pitch tidbits (2)

Tuesday
Sep102013

0-0: First Pitches, Much About Something

Getting ahead of batters is a stat that can never be minimized which why the first pitch of an at bat is so critical. That first pitch sets the tone for the at bat as the pitcher creates the mosaic of an at bat.

But that first pitch is dangerous for pitchers

So far this season, batters are hitting .343 with 278 homers on the first pitch of an at bat. This is slightly better than the 1-0 count in which batters are hitting .337 with 178 homers and a lot better than the .303 and 151 homers they hit when down 0-1.

Let's look at the leaders in the variables associated with the first pitch.

Nobody has faced more batters than:

Nobody has produced more balls in play on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed more hits on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed fewer hits on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed more homers on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed fewer homers on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has produced more swings on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Patrick Corbin - 283 swings
  • Cole Hamels - 272 swings
  • Justin Verlander - 258 swings

Nobody has produced more swings and misses on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Matt Harvey - 71 swings and misses
  • Yu Darvish - 69 swings and misses
  • Justin Verlander - 68 swings and misses
  • Mat Latos - 68 swings and misses

Nobody has produced fewer swings and misses on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Scott Feldman - 19 swings and misses
  • Bronson Arroyo - 21 swings and misses
  • Kevin Correa - 22 swings and misses

Nobody has produced more called strikes on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • CC Sabathia - 326 called strikes
  • Chris Sale - 324 called strikes
  • CJ Wilson - 313 called strikes

Nobody has produced fewer called strikes on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has a lower batting average against on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Kris Medlen - .245
  • Jorge de la Rosa - .247
  • Clayton Kershaw - .248

Nobody has a higher batting average against on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has produced more 1-0 plate appearances than:

Nobody has produced fewer 1-0 plate appearances than:

Chipper Jones on going after the first pitch:

“There are certain pitchers, quite frankly, that you can’t get behind,” Jones said. “You want to be aggressive and the first hittable fastball that you get is the pitch you want to put in play. Because they’ll bury you if they get ahead of you. You can’t let them do that.”

Thursday
Sep152011

First Pitch Tidbits

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:

Righties

Fastball 49%

Slider 14%

Sinker 13%

Curveball 9%

Changeup 8%

Cutter 5%

Splitter 1%

Kuckler/Other: 1%

Lefties

Fastball 58%

Changeup 12%

Curveball 10%

Slider 9%

Sinker 7%

Cutter: 4%

- 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.