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Brewers taking the first pitch


silversurferr

Although it is a good philosophy to work the pitcher, it ain't so good to routinely take first pitch, batting practice fastballs right down the middle. Most of the Brewer hitters are doing this; particularly Ricky, Billy and JJ. Anyone else notice that these three are starting every at bat at 0-1?

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yep, I've noticed. I'm fine with it. If we were swinging at all the first pitches that are "batting practice fastballs right down the middle" well, sure, we'd get our share of hits along with outs and swing and misses. But the opponents pitcher will be going into the later innings of the ball game with a pitch count of <50. We don't want that.

 

Working the count is a selective process. I cringe when guys swing at the first pitch. To me, the proper time to do it is when a hitter is getting "rattled" (i.e. a couple of walks, hits, hard-hit balls, etc.) and he knows he needs to just throw a strike to get some confidence back. It helps that a crowd could be rattling the pitcher too. Just my opinion, though.

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If you really want to know how well various players do with their first pitch selections, I'd use the "by count" split here:

 

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/bsplit.cgi?n1=weeksri01&year=2008#situa-count

 

See how well players do when they put a ball into play on the first pitch Then, see what percentage of their remaining PA's start off 1-0 and 0-1. Do that for every player on the Brewers and put it in a huge spreadsheet.

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I really just think it's different for each guy. Some like letting a pitch go by so they can get used to the pitcher, etc. Some, like Paul Molitor, will happily swing at the first pitch if it's a good one to hit, yet still be able to work counts, get walks, have a good eye, what have you. Both styles can work, but it's up to the player to make them work. If a guy wants to look at a first strike, he can't then start swinging at crap. If a guy wants to swing at the first pitch, he still has to be selective and be willing to work counts and take walks if he never gets a good pitch to hit.
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Dlk, Exactly! If the batter occasionally hits a fat first pitch, the pitcher is more likely in future at bats to fish and get behind in the count. Result? More walks. With Ricky's power, he in particular should occasionally jump on the first pitch fastball.
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What surprises me the most about it is that we seem to take a lot of first pitches, but somehow we still don't get pitch counts up very quickly. After almost every inning, especially when Manny pitches it seems, Brewer pitchers consistently have higher pitch counts than the opposing team.
Everything I've ever known, I've learned from Brewerfan.net....Seriously though
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What surprises me the most about it is that we seem to take a lot of first pitches, but somehow we still don't get pitch counts up very quickly.

 

There's been some crazy low pitch counts the last week or so but overall, it's not been very dramatic. For the year, the Brewers have averaged 3.77 P/PA (pitches per plate appearances), vs. the NL average of 3.81. That's about 1 or 2 less pitches for a whole game.

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rluzinski-

 

I have been looking at these pitch count splits a lot the last week or so. Outside of extreme hitter counts, it looks like just about every player excels swinging at the first pitch. Have you noticed this as well? I understand the importance of working the count and not go up there hacking like Estrada did every time. But even Estrada has a .900 + .OPS on the first pitch. What gives?

 

Personally, I think that the Brewer hitters could benefit a little bit by swinging at that first pitch fastball. Like someone mentioned, Weeks, Hall, and Hardy are up there taking first pitch in a majority of there at-bats just for the sake of taking a pitch. It's early, but is it not a coincidence that they're 1, 2, and 3 of lowest batting averages on the team? It has seemed like all 3 have gone up to the plate with an 0-1 count already on there.

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Those stats are just mind boggling seeing just how much of a different a 1-0 count is than an 0-1 league wide. The 0-0 splits seem to fall right in the middle though. If you swing at that first pitch and miss or foul it off you just put yourself in a nasty hole. If you hit it you get decent results. If you don't swing at it and it is a ball you are way ahead. Pretty much what you would expect just the values were more varied than I expected.

I'm not a huge fan of taking the 1st pitch just to take it and I do think some of the Brewer hitters need to swing at it more than they do but they obviously have to make sure it is a good pitch if they are going to swing.

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I have been looking at these pitch count splits a lot the last week or so. Outside of extreme hitter counts, it looks like just about every player excels swinging at the first pitch. Have you noticed this as well? I understand the importance of working the count and not go up there hacking like Estrada did every time. But even Estrada has a .900 + .OPS on the first pitch. What gives?

My theory: With a 0-0 count, you can sit on a specific pitch and location and, theoretically, make much better contact.

 

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My theory: With a 0-0 count, you can sit on a specific pitch and location and, theoretically, make much better contact.

 

You also can't strike out, which is why the numbers are always going to look better than the overall numbers.

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