The Ole Ball Game

pitch count

by gerard
(lafayette, la)

Photo Bill Stanton:  Checkswing.com

Photo Bill Stanton: Checkswing.com

Gerard asked: What is your philosophy concernig the 3-0 count?


I personally believe in having my batter take the next pitch in almost every situation.

My thinking is as follows. 1. A walk is as good as a hit. 2. Getting on base is my first priority. 3. If the pitcher has thrown 3 balls, he now has to now throw 3 strikes. 4. More pitches equates to more chances of a wild pitch, mistake, etc. and getting their pitcher out of the game. 5.

Even if the batting percentage increases because their pitcher needs to groove the next one down the middle, it's still less than a 40% chance that my batter will get a base hit.

My assitant coach believes in having the batter swing away, even on 3 balls. Now I realize that there are other variables, such as my batters ability, the score, runners on base, if their pitcher has been struggling, etc. However, I'd like some more stats on this matter and your opinion.

Thanks

Gerard

Rick answered: Gerard, thank you for your question!

All the coaches I played for in Little League, High School and College, 3-0 was an automatic take for everyone. If the coach wanted to "green light" someone, he had a sign for that.

This was for all the reasons you stated above. The odds are truly in your favor of getting on base. It's not that I refuse to let hitters swing 3-0, it just doesn't happen very often. The decision to "green light" 3-0 is more of a feeling in that moment that the hitter you have in the box will be disciplined enough to focus in on his one pitch to hit, not just swing because he has the ok.

In MLB in 2012,with a 3-0 count, there were 4,164 plate appearances, the lowest number of plate appearances in the 12 possible counts. Those plate appearances resulted in just 288 at bats, of which 104 were base hits, for a .361 average.

There were 3861 base on balls, and the on base percentage at 3-0 was.954.

At the MLB level, pitchers are undoubtedly reluctant to groove one at 3-0, as the hitters are much more capable. Pitchers look to be close and see if they can get the hitter to chase, if not they start over with the next hitter and hope to get ahead in the count.

If they can get that 3-0 strike, they get a little finer on 3-1, hoping to get to 3-2. In 3-1 counts, MLB in 2012, hitters hit .349.

When the pitcher had them at 3-2, the average dropped to .218.

The hitter in the picture above, Albert Pujols, had 35 plate appearances in 3-0 counts in 2012, resulting in 8 at bats, 4 hits, for a .500 average. He walked 27 times, his OBP in 3-0 was .886.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, led all MLB hitters in 2012 with a .344 average. He had 37 plate appearances in 3-0 counts, resulting in just 1 at bat, which was a single, BA of 1.000, 36 base on balls for an OBP of 1.000.

Generally speaking I feel you are coming out ahead to give young hitters the take on 3-0. In that count they are either going to draw a walk, or get pushed into a 3-1 count, where they will have the ability to swing at "their pitch".

The hitter somewhat has the pitcher in a bind, both physically and mentally. We move our hitters closer to the plate, lean out over a little, get a little more into the pitcher's head.

If he swings away on 3-0, and pops up, flies out or grounds out, it is a big mental lift to the pitcher. He got off the hook.

Even if he takes a strike, the pitcher is still looking at needing to throw a strike, in a hitters count.

Overall, more to gain and less to lose if you auto take 3-0. Over the course of a season I feel it provides your team with better and higher percentage opportunities to be successful.

Good luck as you go forward with your season.

Yours in baseball,

Rick




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