Dale Says

April 26, 2010

Take One for the Team

Filed under: Profile — Dale @ 3:00 pm

The Giants have a good team this year. They do not have a great team, however, and in order to make the playoffs they will have to do all the “little things” well. One of those little things is discipline at the plate.

The Giants lacked any semblance of plate discipline yesterday, and it hurt them. Cardinal’s pitcher, Brad Penny, took advantage of the Giant’s free-swinging tendencies and dominated the Giants through seven and two-thirds innings.

After the game, Penny told the Associated Press he didn’t throw any pitches as hard as he could. San Francisco’s hitters were swinging so early in the count, he said, he never had to.

“They were really aggressive, which helped me out and worked in my favor,” Penny said. “If you look at the difference in the game our guys were patient and ran Matt’s pitch count up and they (the Giants) were swinging at the first or second pitch.”

There are at least three compelling reasons to take the first pitch:

1) Opposing pitchers will have to throw more pitches (and leave the game earlier)

2) Taking a pitch permits the hitter (and those on the bench) to see the pitcher’s stuff and get their timing on his pitches

3) Working the count in the batter’s favor increases the chances of getting a hit

As the following chart shows, batters tend to have more success when they work the count in their favor.

MLB Batting Averages by Pitch Count

                         2000 2007 2008 2009

First pitch     .336   .344  .337    .338
1-0                   .343   .341   .339    .340
0-1                   .324   .324   .339    .317
2-0                   .360   .350  .355    .368
2-1                    .340   .339  .339    .339
3-0                     n/a    .396  .370   .395
3-1                    .344    .368  .350   .352

Given the advantages that accrue when batters take a pitch – why wouldn’t the Giants want to develop better discipline at the plate, and why wouldn’t they be willing to take one for the team?

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