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July 12, 2002
Aim For The Head
Long Plate Appearances Mailbag
Judging from the feedback in my inbox, people are still having fun looking at the number of pitches in a plate appearance, so let's answer a few more questions from the mailbag.
E. O. writes:
I'm having a bit of an argument with a friend about the likelihood of striking out...I've said you're more likely to strike out the deeper you go into a PA, he's said that doesn't make sense. Obviously, you have the numbers there...could you give us the strikeout and walk rates for each pitch of a PA?
NP SO_R BB_R SO/BB 3 0.1465 0 --- 4 0.2340 0.1294 1.808 5 0.2606 0.1613 1.616 6 0.2654 0.2024 1.311 7 0.2390 0.2306 1.036 8 0.2247 0.2413 0.931 9 0.2132 0.2466 0.865 10 0.2073 0.2463 0.842 11 0.2046 0.2491 0.821 12 0.2019 0.2718 0.743 13 0.2045 0.2386 0.857 14 0.1639 0.1639 1.000 15 0.2143 0.3214 0.667
Jeff Angus writes:
Based on your graph of Long PA events, it suggests that the more times a batter faces a pitcher in the same game, the more likely he is to have a long PA. The uptick in the last two innings would reflect (if this hunch is correct) be a higher frequency of facing-a-relief-pitch, that is, a "new" pitcher in this game.
One way to look at this is to look at the average pitch length for starters and relievers both early in the game (say, innings 1-6) and late in the game (innings 7 and beyond). I've done so in the table below.
Average NP/PA EARLY (Inning 1-6) LATE (Inning 7+) Starters 3.62 3.48 Relievers 3.65 3.69
Contrary to what Jeff suggests, starting pitchers appear to be more efficient with their pitches later in the game, whereas starters in the first 6 innings, and relievers at any time, all average about 3.65 pitches per plate appearance. One important caveat is that we haven't controlled for the quality of pitcher. Good pitchers will throw into the 7th inning more often that bad pitchers, and thus good pitchers will tend to be overrepresented in the Starter/Late sample. A better comparison would be to look at only games where the starter goes 7 or more innings, and see how the average pitch length breaks down, or, alternately, to balance the contribution of pitchers across the two groups.
An anonymous reader writes:
[...] concerning long PA's, what about the BA, OBS, Slug, OPS for the NEXT batter? It's oft spouted wisdom that longer taking a lot of pitches helps the rest of the line up. Is it true?
PITCHES AVG OBP SLG OPS 1 .264 .333 .398 .731 2 .264 .333 .401 .733 3 .263 .331 .403 .734 4 .259 .326 .398 .724 5 .262 .328 .405 .732 6 .264 .327 .410 .738 7 .262 .324 .410 .733 8 .268 .328 .419 .747 9 .258 .319 .403 .722 10 .265 .326 .413 .739 11 .265 .322 .415 .737
Richard Chen writes:
How about the most pitches in a plate appearance with 2 outs and a runner on first? I remember ESPN's showing this situation with about 6 fouls on 3 and 2; when the batter finally ended the stalemate, the guy on first mock-collapsed.
Sounds like fun. There are 6 instances in the database where a batter saw 15 or more pitches with 2 outs and a runner on first. I'll save the longest (and probably the most interesting, considering the score and situation) for last� so let's start the countdown:
(throw to first)
Note: One of only two such episodes where the batter reached base, and the only one where the pitcher threw over to first. This is also the only entry where there is one a runner on first. All the others have 2 runners on, or bases loaded.
1. foul (strike 1)
Note: One of two bases-loaded situations in the list. The only swinging strikes on the list were on the first pitch, or the very last pitch.
1. called strike 1
Note: Tackett is probably the least accomplished major league batter on the list, which is saying something given the next entry's batter. Entries #6, #4, and #3 each had a sequence of 8 straight foul balls--tops on this list.
# 3. April 9, 1997, Indians at Mariners, Mariners lead 3-0 in the bottom of the 1st. Bartolo Colon pitching to John Marzano, with the bases loaded (Russ Davis on first, Paul Sorrento on second, Jay Buhner on third).
1. swinging strike 1
Note: The only run scoring play on the list, forcing in a run. After starting off with an 0-2 count, Colon loses the battle 13 pitches later.
1. called strike 1
Note: Ball 1 (pitch 5) and ball 3 (pitch 14) were called later than any other PA on the list that reached a full count.
1. called strike 1
Note: This is the wacky game where the Red Sox blew a 10-0 lead after six innings, and were behind 11-10 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Bosox tied it in the bottom of the 9th, and a base hit here would have won the game, but it wasn't to be. The Blue Jays won the game 13-11 in 12 innings. Barrett is the only batter on the list whose plate appearance didn't run to a full count, and he swung at 14 pitches in this at bat, also tops on the list.