What's the count, blue?


#1

Here is a little something I was working on recently after seeing an online article. I moved some of the data around to draw some conclusions about moving from count to count through an at bat. There are lots of flaws in looking at aggregate data because pitch selection, location, and velocity as well as the batter being faced and the game situation…as well as many other things skew this information. It still gives some pretty good opportunity to learn the importance of each relative count. Enjoy!


After 0-0 count you get…
0-1 count: .221 average, .592 OPS
1-0 count: .268 average, .796 OPS
Variation of .047 BA and .204 OPS

After 0-1 count you get…
0-2 count: .166 average, .438 OPS
1-1 count: .234 average, .656 OPS
Variation of .068 BA and .218 OPS

Afer 1-0 count you get…
1-1 count: .234 average, .656 OPS
2-0 count: .281 average, .955 OPS
Variation of .047 BA and .299 OPS

After 1-1 count you get…
1-2 count: .178 average, .489 OPS
2-1 count: .252 average, .781 OPS
Variation of .074 BA and .292 OPS

After 0-2 count you get…
1-2 count: .178 average, .489 OPS
0-2 count (foul ball): .166 average, .438 OPS
Variation of .012 BA and .051 OPS so it’s easy to see why this can be considered a waste pitch, if so inclined.

After 2-0 count you get…
2-1 count: .252 average, .781 OPS
3-0 count: .282 average, 1.209 OPS
Variation of .030 BA and .428 OPS

After 1-2 count you get…
1-2 count (foul ball): .178 average, .489 OPS
2-2 count: .193 average, .584 OPS
Variation of .015 BA and .095 OPS

After 2-1 count you get…
2-2 count: .193 average, .584 OPS
3-1 count: .274 average, 1.029 OPS
Variation of .081 BA and .445 OPS

After 2-2 count you get…
2-2 count (foul ball): .193 average, .584 OPS
3-2 count: .216 average, .792 OPS
Variation of .023 BA and .208 OPS

Comparing a 3-0 count: .282 average, 1.209 OPS
against a 3-1 count: .274 average, 1.029 OPS
Variation of .008 BA and .180 OPS
You can see why 3-0 is such a bad deal. Even battling to 3-1 doesn’t help the pitcher a lot.

It gets a bit better after 3-1, if you get work the count full.
3-1 count: .274 average, 1.029 OPS
3-2 count: .216 average, .792 OPS
Variation of .058 BA and .237 OPS

Looking at the numbers you see that any situation with 2 strikes is in the pitcher’s favor due to the risk of striking out. I think we can all agree that outcomes are obviously better for hitters that don’t have an opportunity to strike out on that pitch. You will notice that there is not much variation in outcomes for most two-strike counts. It also comes as no surprise that pitchers must be leery of the full count due to the high OPS number with all 3 ball counts. If you can battle back to 3-2 from 3-0 (two very difficult pitches to make) you can drop the hitter’s BA by .066 and his OPS by .417.

I think it’s interesting that 2-1 counts offer the widest swings in BA and OPS, depending upon the outcome of that pitch. 81 point BA drop and a 445 point OPS drop if the count runs to 2-2 instead of 3-1.

1-1 and 0-1 have the next highest variations in BA at 74 and 68 points, respectively. 2-0 and 1-0 have the next highest OPS variations at 428 and 299 respectively. These counts seem pivotal towards keeping runners off base or avoiding giving up extra base hits. With runners in scoring position, these are the counts that pitchers need to be focused on.
Of course, none of this data takes into consideration pitch selection, location or velocity, so take from it what you will. It’s still fun to think about it. smile emoticon


#2

Awesome post Coach paul. Brings back the point that throwing a strike in a 1-1 count is so important. also i’m surprised how getting a strike across in a 2-1 count is so important. wow


#3

Really, any 1 strike count is highly beneficial to get to 2 strikes. Once you are at 2 strikes you really are in a good spot. The only “bad” 2 strike count is 3-2 and only because of the chance for a walk and the OPS numbers. 0-2, 1-2, 2-2 counts are money–obviously. Any count will fewer than 3 balls, with the exception of 2-0, and you are in decent shape. If you can get a strike on the hitter 2-0 and make it 2-1, you have a chance to get back in the driver’s seat.

I take away from this that while 1-1 is important, it’s not the end of the world if you go 2-1. Don’t make a mistake 1-1 because you are feeling the pressure of this count!!! Stay away from the middle of the plate on 1-1 counts.


#4

True cause whenever i got a hitter in a 1-1 count the OPS difference between 1-2 and 2-1 always gets in my head and sometimes I’ll “aim” the ball. no need for that just chuck the ball


#5

Now to really get you confused…


Tidbits about certain counts: The top hitters hit 80 points higher and slug 130 points higher than their season averages on first pitches that they put in play. Makes you think twice about a get-me-over FB for a first pitch strike, doesn’t it? Yet, if you do your homework, there are many batters who never swing 0-0. On average, batters take 0-0 49% of the time. Any two strike count costs you almost 100 points on against your average. If a pitcher can entice a batter to swing 1-1 with a borderline pitch or a well-placed breaking ball, the resulting 1-2 count essentially digs the batter’s grave. Batting averages are 140 points lower, on average, in pitcher’s counts. If you sensed a but coming, here’s the big ol’ but now…47% of all at-bats end with two strikes. The other 53% are pretty evenly split between ending with 0 or 1 strike against the batter. The major disadvantage that two-strike at-bats have is that they can end in a strike out, where it’s impossible to strike out with 0 or 1 strike. Essentially, two-strike counts have more ways to end badly (or favorably, if you are the pitcher) than do 0 or 1 strike counts.
Here’s another big ol’ but: If we look at hits per balls put in play, we see that this average is .326 with two strikes and .353 with less than two strikes. That’s still pretty good results for the hitter who gets the ball in play with two strikes.
In 0 strike counts and 3-1 counts, probability of hits on a ball in play averages are at their highest. Conversely, 2 strike counts, 1-1, and 2-1 counts have the lower probability of hits on a ball in play.
Pitchers throw 10% fewer fastballs in two strike counts than they do in other counts and since hitters get more hits off fastballs than off-speed pitches, this adds to reduced productivity of two strike counts.


#6

House always told us that a pitch thrown in a 1-1 count is the most critical pitch in an at bat because going to 1-2 makes a .250 hitter become a .200 hitter while going to 2-1 allows a .200 hitter to become a .300 hitter.