Note: This article was originally published at the Statistically Speaking blog at MVN.com on February 18, 2008. Since the MVN.com site is defunct and its articles are no longer available on the web, I am re-publishing the article here.
Recent evidence may suggest otherwise, but I am still a contributor to Statistically Speaking. I’ve been working on an analysis that has been more difficult to bring to fruition than I expected; that, along with “real life” getting in the way more of late, is what has severely cut into my posting frequency.
However, in the process of number crunching for the analysis I’m doing, I came across some statistics that I haven’t seen posted publicly anywhere, not even in the Baseball-Reference splits. (Some of it is in the B-R splits, but not most of it.) Maybe I’ve just missed them, in which case drop me a line and let me know where else you found them. I thought these might be interesting to a few other people, so I’ll share them. Mostly, I’m just putting the numbers up here for the rest of you to enjoy, but I’ll also make a few comments on some trends that stuck out to me.
I’m looking at pitch data broken down by ball-strike count. I’m using the MLB Gameday 2007 data as my source. Today I present the breakdown of types of balls put into play by the hitter.
|Ball||Strike||Total Pitches||Total Safe||Total Out||Single||Double||Triple||Home Run||Field Error||Other Safe|
|Ball||Strike||Ground Out||Fly Out||Pop Out||Line Out||Force Out||Ground into DP|
|Ball||Strike||Sac Bunt||Sac Fly||Double Play||Bunt Ground Out||Field. Ch. Out||Bunt Pop Out||Other Out|
A hitter reaches base safely more often on balls in play when the count is in his favor. Don’t change the channel, the revelations like that just keep on coming at StatSpeak, and you don’t want to miss one!
Okay. My first slightly less than completely and utterly obvious observation is that the home run rate is strongly tied to the count.
The doubles rate shows the same effect, but smaller, as does the triples rate to some extent. The singles rate stays pretty flat with respect to count, although there is a bit of an inverse effect–in better hitter’s counts, the hitter gets more extra base hits and slightly fewer singles.I haven’t looked at the type of batted ball (fly ball, line drive, ground ball, bunt, etc.) that results in hits. That’s a bit more difficult to parse out of the Gameday data. Since it doesn’t have its own field, getting that information requires some regular expression matching on the text description of the play. That’s fairly straightforward but nonetheless a nontrivial bit of coding that makes it a project for some point in the future rather than part of this data set for me.
Another thing I noticed was that there were more groundouts and less flyouts the more strikes and less balls there were in the count. As pitchers gain the upper hand, they tend to get more groundball outs. I didn’t include popups and line drives in the accompanying chart since they didn’t show a strong tendency relative to count.
I saw a couple other things that are obvious once you think about them, but it was interesting to me to see them reflected in the data. The first was that force outs, GIDPs, and fielder’s choice outs all go down dramatically with a 3-2 count, dropping from 6.4% to 2.3% of balls in play. Presumably this is because the runners are often going with the pitch on 3-2.
The second thing that interested me was the favorite counts for hitters to bunt for an out. (Bunting for a hit is not included for the reason mentioned previously.)
If I don’t get around to presenting my full analysis in a timely fashion, I’ll see if I can present a few more statistical tidbits like this along the way.