How pitchers can throw more pitches inside the strike zone and walk more batters (and vice versa).
I remember once that there was an article (not written by me, but it might as well have been; I’ve certainly written a version of this article before) that looked at a batter’s increased walk rate and concluded that it was due to... not swinging at as many pitches outside the strike zone. Colin Wyers tweeted something in response that went something like, but not exactly like, this: “uh no doy.” I try to keep that tweet (or at least something like that tweet) in mind, because it’s easy to find explanations that are already embedded in that which you seek to explain. Baseball generally obeys its own physics. Player is struggling because his heat map looks awful. Fielder’s numbers are down because fielder isn’t making plays in front/in back/whatever of him. Pitcher is walking more batters because pitcher is throwing fewer pitches in the zone.
But what about when that last one isn’t true? There are 179 pitchers who threw at least 1,000 pitches last year, and have thrown at least 500 pitches this year. The correlation between year-to-year changes in zone rate and changes in unintentional-BB rate is fairly modest: about .4. That means there must be a lot to not walking batters other than throwing pitches in the strike zone.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The NLCS kicks off with a matchup of two starters who have been vulnerable to opposite-handed hitters.
The Giants clung to a 6-0 lead to win their Division Series with the Reds. The Cardinals overcame a 6-0 deficit to knock off the Nationals. Now, those two teams prepare to tangle in the NLCS, which begins tonight at AT&T Park. Here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for Game One:
A lackluster series gets serious in the span of one (very long) at-bat.
Game Four between the Cardinals and Nationals gave the people what they wanted: a lengthy, dramatic, Hollywood-inspired at-bat that ended a postseason game with an exclamation point. Earlier in the day, Jay Bruce delivered the first half late in the Giants-Reds series, but failed to punctuate. Walk-off home runs are exciting regardless of the at-bat length; however, there’s just something magical about seeing a pitcher and hitter going at it for 10, 11, 12 pitches before reaching a conclusion. Jayson Werth and Lance Lynn did one better: they dueled for 13 pitches.
The Cardinals play the Braves in Atlanta for a spot in the Division Series
The last time the Cardinals met the Braves in the postseason, in 2000, St. Louis swept a three-game series by outscoring Atlanta 24-10. Only six players from that series remain active and two, Rafael Furcal and Chipper Jones, will attend this one. Fresher on the minds of both squads and their fans is what happened last year, when the Cardinals made a late-season surge and stole away the Braves’ postseason ticket on the season’s final night. Consider this Atlanta’s opportunity for revenge.
A series of questionable moves, bloopers, and blown calls to the bullpen were pertinent in the outcome of Game Five.
Given not only his history but the clinic in bullpen management that Tony La Russa put on in the NLCS, it’s difficult to believe that he could wind up botching a situation as badly as he did in the eighth inning of Monday's Game Five of the World Series. But thanks to a miscommunication between the Cardinals' dugout and their bullpen, a manager who has spent his career chasing the platoon advantage ad nauseam was left with lefty Marc Rzepczynski facing righty Mike Napoli with the bases loaded and one out. Meanwhile, the pitcher he wanted to face the Rangers' best hitter at the game’s pivotal moment wasn't even warmed up. Napoli, whose three-run homer had broken the game open the night before, pounded a double off the right-center field wall, breaking a 2-2 tie and helping the Rangers take a 3-2 lead in the Series.
How to avoid having a reliever go in to issue an intentional walk and then leave the game.
In one of the strangest sequences in memory, the Cardinals sent Lance Lynn to the mound to face Ian Kinsler. Lynn intentionally walked Kinsler - a straight-up intentional walk, not just pitching around the guy. Then Lynn was pulled for Jason Motte. In the post game press conference, Tona La Russa attributed this bizarre set of pitching changes to the fact that the bullpen warmed up the wrong pitcher, sending him Lynn when he was expecting Motte to begin with.
Albert Pujols makes history in the process of putting the Cardinals up 2-1.
"When you have the bat in your hand, you can always change the story," said Reggie Jackson years ago. Mired in the controversy regarding a post-Game Two no-show following his ninth-inning relay flub, Albert Pujols changed the story on Saturday night, becoming just the third player ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game and collecting five hits en route to a Series-record 14 total bases. Before hitting his first home run, Pujols had already collected two hits while helping the Cardinals build an 8-6 lead; his three-run, sixth-inning homer off Alexi Ogando broke the game open en route to a 16-7 rout and a 2-1 Series lead. The Cardinals' 16 runs tied the 2002 Giants and 1960 Yankees for the second-highest single-game total in Series history.