Padres hitters and backward pitching

Mitchel Lichtman posed the question a few weeks ago in his (and Tango’s) blog; today I roll up my sleeves and try to see if he is onto something.

As a Padres fan, I am continually frustrated at how often it APPEARS to me that their hitters (in general) look exclusively fastball in fastball counts and get off-speed pitches.
—MGL (emphasis by the author)

This time I won’t need to build myself the tools for the analysis, since Lichtman is kindly proving them in his post.

…would it be a lot of trouble for someone to look at the PITCHf/x data and find out how often a Padres batter gets an off-speed pitch in a hitter’s count (1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 and 3-2) as compared to the league as a whole…
—MGL

Padres get fastballs 73 percent of the times on the counts indicated by Mitchel, against a MLB percentage of 70; on the remaining counts it’s 60 percent Padres, 58 percent MLB. Below is a table reporting data for each count.

        fastball percentage
    count    MLB     SD
    0-0      67%     68%
    0-1      54%     56%
    0-2      51%     52%
    1-0      67%     71%
    1-1      56%     55%
    1-2      48%     49%
    2-0      79%     79%
    2-1      67%     71%
    2-2      53%     56%
    3-0      91%     90%
    3-1      82%     82%
    3-2      68%     71%

Note: I used all Padres PAs and all MLB PAs; probably it would have been better comparing San Diego only against the National League.

…and how the batters do on those off-speed pitches in those hitters counts, again as compared to a league-average batter…
—MGL

Enter run values, and here it is.
(Note: run values, from here on, are prorated to 100 pitches)

run value on breaking balls
    count   MLB     SD
    0-0     0.23   -0.66
    0-1     0.39   -0.16
    0-2    -0.05   -1.39
    1-0     0.62    1.59
    1-1     1.38    1.16
    1-2     0.41    0.11
    2-0     1.18   -0.54
    2-1     1.45   -0.51
    2-2     0.54    0.79
    3-0    -0.38   -2.04
    3-1     1.43    0.32
    3-2     0.83    3.45

MGL is 3 for 5, but his misses are on the counts where the hitters’ advantage should be less pronounced. I also would expect, if the Friars are always looking for the heater in those counts, a better production if they are treated to fastballs indeed. Looking below, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

run value on fastballs
    count   MLB     SD
    0-0     0.39    0.04
    0-1     0.47    0.44
    0-2     1.19    0.17
    1-0     0.85    0.48
    1-1     1.45    1.78
    1-2     1.69   -0.52
    2-0     1.56    3.00
    2-1     1.75   -0.38
    2-2     1.65    0.22
    3-0    -0.52   -0.28
    3-1     1.54   -1.53
    3-2     3.27    1.63

Or is it? Look at the 2-0 value on the above table and compare it to the corresponding on the previous one. That’s on 608 fastballs and 157 breaking balls.
Padres hitters are going for dead red on 2-0 counts, but they’re also getting good results.

Also, if you can do that for the first half compared to the second half. I suspect that pitchers are starting to realize that Padres hitters do that.
— MGL

Let’s see…

   fastball percentage
   count  1st half 2nd half
    0-0      68%     68%
    0-1      56%     55%
    0-2      54%     50%
    1-0      73%     70%
    1-1      56%     54%
    1-2      51%     48%
    2-0      80%     79%
    2-1      74%     67%
    2-2      57%     54%
    3-0      89%     91%
    3-1      83%     80%
    3-2      73%     68%

Pitchers have actually decreased their fastball usage in all hitters counts (75 to 71 percent globally) against San Diego, but a (smaller) drop has occurred for the other counts as well (60 to 59).

And finally here’s the Padres’ run production by count, first half vs second half.

       run value
  count  1st half 2nd half
    0-0    -0.95    0.59
    0-1    -0.46    0.81
    0-2    -0.10   -1.11
    1-0     0.40    1.18
    1-1     0.22    2.76
    1-2    -0.87    0.53
    2-0     2.03    2.50
    2-1    -0.78   -0.05
    2-2     0.08    0.88
    3-0     0.20   -1.12
    3-1    -2.73    0.35
    3-2     0.29    4.33

San Diego hitters have improved in every count except 0-2 and 3-0. Thus, they seem to have responded well to whatever new pitching approach they have been treated to.

Maybe I am wrong, though. Maybe it is just selective memory.
—MGL

Well, I think you are onto something, Mitchel, but selective memory surely has played its part too.

Just as it looks to me like Eckstein grounds out to second base every time I see him bat (how often does he do that?)
—MGL

Fifty-four times, according to Baseball-Reference event finder, on a total of 414 balls put into play.

References & Resources
Pitch data and classification from MLBAM.

Reaching out to any of the PITCHf/x guys… by Mitchel G. Lichtman.

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Comments

  1. James Mohl said...

    You said “Padres get breaking balls 73% of the time on the counts indicated by Mitchel…”.  But the table right below that is labelled “fastball percentage”.  So which is it?

  2. Max Marchi said...

    Thanks for spotting it, it’ll be fixed ASAP.

    Using Retrosheet data from 2008 (if I entered SQL code correctly), a RHB is expected to ground out to second 36 times in 414 BIP.

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