Turn Off Ads?
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 16

Thread: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

  1. #1
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,138

    Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    The other day I was watching a batter foul 3-4 balls off agains Wiliams I was wondering if anyone had studied foul balls (or foul ball rates) by batters and/or by pitchers to see if anything could be garnered by such data?

    Does an increase in foul balls portend well for a hitter/pitcher, or does it show he is declining? Its quite possible its and indicator of neither, but it seems to me that guys without a true out pitch are the guys that give up foul balls in bunches.

    Does anybody have a link to some foul ball statistics?

    GL

  2. Turn Off Ads?
  3. #2
    Member smith288's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    New Albany, OH
    Posts
    7,252

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Certainly runs up a pitcher's count. Cant be too bad for the batter.

  4. #3
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Winton Place
    Posts
    11,181

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Well, ironically, the Chicago Tribune just had an article this month on this very subject. BTW, I remember watching a game where Dann Billardello must have fouled off 15 pitches, but now, I can't remember what he did. Interesting stat by the Count in the AB at the end.

    Foul play? Far from it
    Teams value hitters who work the count and frustrate pitchers

    By Dave Scheiber
    St. Petersburg Times
    Published April 16, 2006

    The night of May 12, 2004, in a span that began as routine and ended as epic, Alex Cora put his opponent down for the count.

    The journeyman shortstop stepped to the plate for the Dodgers, digging in against then-Cubs starter Matt Clement in the bottom of the seventh, about to embark on what he would soon call "the most memorable at-bat of my life."

    With his team ahead 2-0 and the leadoff man reaching first on a walk, Cora got ahead of Clement 2-1, then fouled off his next offering.

    No one could have imagined what was to follow: Cora fouled off the next 13 pitches from Clement, while fans in Dodger Stadium began to cheer as if it were a playoff game, not an early-season matchup.

    But what made the at-bat, easily one of the longest in major-league baseball, especially remarkable is that Cora drilled the 18th pitch for a two-run homer to seal the 4-0 win.

    Talk about working the count.

    Most times, it hardly rates as a glamor part of the game or gets the attention it did with Cora, coincidentally now a teammate of Clement's on the Red Sox. But the art is integral to baseball, a battle both psychological and physical. And the masters--those hitters who understand the nuances of an opponent's style and have the patience to force him to throw more pitches--are highly valued members of a lineup.

    They can help dictate the flow of a contest, disrupt the pitcher's rhythm, allow teammates on the bench to study his stuff and often help determine who wins or loses.

    Doing it effectively takes focus, confidence and good vision, and is not a skill that every hitter possesses. Hanging tough at the plate, in fact, gets progressively harder if pitchers get ahead in the count, according to Illinois-based STATS, which calculates all manner of sports statistics.

    Last season, for example, major-leaguers hit .331 when swinging at the first pitch, .314 at 0-1 but .164 at 0-2. The overall '05 batting average on a 1-0 count? An impressive .332. But when the count was 2-2, the average plummeted to .194.

    "It's the same story for both sides," former pitching star Jack Morris said. "When you're ahead in the count, you're winning. When you're behind, hitters have a huge advantage. It's just that simple."

    Working the count well has even more benefits today than in eras past. A team that forces an opponent to throw a set number by a certain inning may chase him from the mound and force the bullpen into action.

    "That was our big theory when I was with Oakland," Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi said. "Run up the guy's pitch counts, because then you get the starting pitcher out of the game in the fifth inning. You're making him throw 100 pitches and he's gone."

    Giambi, according to Yankees hitting coach Don Mattingly, "is as good as I've seen" at taking a pitcher deep into the count. How did he learn the fine points?

    As a child, Giambi remembers all the batting practice balls his father threw to him. "He would say, `Well, that was a ball, that one's a strike,' and it just kind of put it in my head," he said.

    "The biggest thing is when I got to the Oakland A's. Mark McGwire took me under his wing. I had always taken a lot of walks, but he showed me that you can be just as valuable to your team taking a walk as you can getting a hit."

    Giambi grew comfortable at the plate with two strikes. And because he wasn't fast enough to beat out grounders, he was forced to wait for a pitch he could drill for a hit.

    "The more pitches I saw, the more mistakes I would get from the pitcher," he said. "Sometimes, the first pitch you get may be your best. So if you foul it off, you have to stay in and swing at bad pitches and hopefully get that next pitch where he makes a mistake."

    Hitting styles vary, and working the count isn't for everyone. "I don't have time for that," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. "I'm more aggressive. I just hack. If I went up there and was patient, I wouldn't be the guy I am."

    But his teammate, leadoff man and left fielder Shannon Stewart, gets plenty of kudos for his knack at running up the count.

    "I can't get a hit every time," said Stewart, a career .300 hitter in 11 seasons. "So the next best thing for me is to walk. I try to work a pitcher. You go up there and take a couple of pitches and go deep in the count and it helps the other hitters out too. They're all watching to see what the guy's got."

    What can a pitcher do to counter a guy working the count?

    "You've got to get ahead and stay ahead," Devil Rays starter Casey Fossum said. "But if they do start fouling stuff off, change the speed. For me, that's when I put my slow one in there, something to get them off what they've been doing."

    Morris remembers an early lesson as a pitcher.

    "As a young player, the most important thing I learned is that the greatest pitch in baseball is strike one," he said. "So it's all about the count."

    The count counts

    Major-league averages by the count during the 2005 season:

    COUNT AVG.
    0-0 .331
    0-1 .314
    0-2 .164
    1-0 .332
    1-1 .320
    1-2 .179
    2-0 .340
    2-1 .332
    2-2 .194
    3-0 .333
    3-1 .360
    3-2 .232
    Source: STATS

  5. #4
    Member smith288's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    New Albany, OH
    Posts
    7,252

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    "The biggest thing is when I got to the Oakland A's. Mark McGwire took me under his wing. I had always taken a lot of walks, but he showed me that you can be just as valuable to your team taking a walk as you can getting a hit."
    ...and to take a needle to the buttocks...

  6. #5
    "Let's Roll" TeamBoone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    12,841

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    I think it depends on the situation.

    If the batter is hitting long, foul balls into the stands during regular at bats, it might likely mean he's getting a good piece of it and seeing the ball well... he may eventually be successful in straightening it out and hit a nice long ball into fair territory. It could be a HR, into the gap, or of course, into an outfielder's glove.

    If he's fouling off balls in an effort to stay alive at the plate, that's a good thing too as it runs up the pitch count, but there's a lesser chance that he'll get a hit because he's either fouling off bad pitches to stay alive and/or he's not seeing the ball well (or perhaps the pitcher is consistently throwing really good stuff)... in this situation, is the batter more likely to ground out or strike out?

    Just my own perception... and I'm probably dead wrong.
    "Enjoy this Reds fans, you are watching a legend grow up before your very eyes" ... DoogMinAmo on Adam Dunn

  7. #6
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Mason, OH
    Posts
    12,168

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    I've heard announcers say that when a batter fouled one back into the screen, that means he's right on the pitch and juuuust missed it. However, I've never understood the correlation.

    Pay attention to the open sky

  8. #7
    Member blumj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Northern MA
    Posts
    4,619

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Funny coincidence, Cora was up to his old tricks again last night, 15 pitch BB off Paul Byrd, which led to the post game show, with Dennis Eckersley co-hosting, replaying the 18 pitch HR off Clement. Foul after foul after foul, and when they get to the HR swing, Eck calls it: "Kirk Gibson, see ya later!" The co-host literally fell off his chair.

  9. #8
    Member smith288's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    New Albany, OH
    Posts
    7,252

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
    I've heard announcers say that when a batter fouled one back into the screen, that means he's right on the pitch and juuuust missed it. However, I've never understood the correlation.
    Why not? The action of hitting a rounded bat on a round ball is determined by the smallest of measurements and to foul it straight back I would venture it was not because he was late or early but was under it the smallest fraction of a measurement from sending it the other direction.

  10. #9
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,138

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    I was thinking more of the macro than then micro. In any single AB I don't think it would mean a whole lot.

    However, if a batter fouls off 100 pitches in a season, how does that compare to the guy that fouls off 30 in a season? If my guy goes from 100 to 50 in a season, is he getting better, worse, or is it inconsequental? Same for pitchers.

  11. #10
    Old Red Guard Reject
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    1,419

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong
    I was thinking more of the macro than then micro. In any single AB I don't think it would mean a whole lot.

    However, if a batter fouls off 100 pitches in a season, how does that compare to the guy that fouls off 30 in a season? If my guy goes from 100 to 50 in a season, is he getting better, worse, or is it inconsequental? Same for pitchers.
    How about comparing how batters who foul off a high number of pitches perform in subsequent ABs. I think I'm getting to like this SABR stuff.
    If you ain't first, you're last! - Ricky Bobby

  12. #11
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Guelph, ON
    Posts
    16,027

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Cyclone, where are you!?
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  13. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, aka, the most prosperous city in the world.
    Posts
    10,675

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    I read an article years ago that proved that the more fouls a batter hits to stay alive, the better chance he has to get a hit. For example, if a pitch count is 2-2, each foul ball a batter hits increases the likelihood he will hit safely.

  14. #13
    Little Reds BandWagon Reds Nd2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    3,244

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...articleid=1511

    OPS by Length of Plate Appearance
    by Keith Woolner

    This week's question comes from Don Coffin, who asks:

    I was watching a game on TV the other day and wondered whether a longer at-bat favors the hitter, in terms of its final outcome. More specifically, how do things like BA/OBP/SLG differ with the number of pitches in an at-bat?
    Thanks for the great question, Don. Before we look at the actual results, let's stop a moment and think about what our intuition might lead us to believe.


    For starters, a walk requires at least four pitches, so the difference between batting average and on-base percentage for one to three pitches should be minimal, with sacrifice flies and hit-by-pitches accounting for any gap. Walks become possible at four pitches, so OBP (though not necessarily batting average) should rise at that point, and probably remain high at five and six pitches as well (walks occuring on 3-1 and some 3-2 counts). Similarly, a strikeout requires at least three pitches, so any outs of the one- or two-pitch variety would have to come via balls in play.

    It's not immediately obvious what to expect from slugging average. Based on the way most hitters approach their jobs, they would protect the plate with two strikes, so as the counts go deeper (any PA lasting beyond five pitches must end on a two-strike count), power should stay fairly constant after five pitches. You might expect aggressive first-ball and bad-ball hitters to be swinging hard and swinging early in the count, so the low pitch plate appearances might show a higher slugging average.

    What about unusually long at bats? An extended plate appearance can only be prolonged by foul balls, as no more than five pitches in a plate appearance can be non-fouls. Does repeated fouling off of pitches indicate a batter who is unable to get around on an effective pitcher, or instead is it the pitcher who is struggling, and can't find the speed or location to put away the hitter? Do the odds favor the hitter more as the pitch count increased?

    Finally, what pitch length most favors the pitcher, and which most favors the batter?

    I looked at all plate appearances from 1988 through 2000 for which I had individual pitch data, a data set that covers 87% of all PAs during that span. I grouped the PAs by the number of pitches, and looked at AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS as simple measures of offensive performance. I did not attempt to control for park or league factors, nor for differences between patient hitters—who see more pitches per PA, and thus represent a higher fraction of the sample at higher number of pitches—and impatient hitters, who are proportionally represented more in the lower pitch totals. I used a cutoff of 500 plate appearances of a given length over the years covered to be significant, although I show the entire table below.



    Code:
    Pitch #      PA    AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS
      1     286,695   .323 .316 .497   814
      2     334,951   .319 .316 .491   807
      3     340,944   .267 .269 .411   681
      4     371,885   .227 .333 .346   678
      5     304,844   .215 .346 .333   679
      6     193,051   .211 .374 .326   700
      7      79,250   .223 .405 .354   758
      8      29,939   .231 .418 .370   788
      9      10,797   .237 .427 .392   819
     10       3,743   .229 .419 .379   798
     11       1,393   .258 .442 .438   880
     12         515   .290 .485 .491   976
     13         176   .242 .426 .394   820
     14          61   .239 .368 .391   760
     15          28   .222 .464 .778  1242
     16          11   .333 .455 .778  1232
     17           4   .500 .750 .500  1250
     18           2   .000 .000 .000   000
     19           1   .000 .000 .000   000
     20           1   .000 .000 .000   000
    Everyone who guessed that four pitches was the best PA length for pitchers (678 OPS), and 12 the best for batters (976 OPS) can go to the head of the class. The 3-5 pitch range was actually pretty equally favorable for pitchers, bringing in a sub-700 OPS. Offense was pretty high for the first couple of pitches, then dips sharply before slowly recovering over longer and longer plate appearances. The chart below makes this easier to see.





    The first two pitches are more than 100 points of OPS better for the hitter than pitches three, four, five, and six. Slugging, in particular, dips sharply, almost 175 points worth between one-pitch PAs and six-pitch PAs. Batters start to gain ground again at the seven-pitch level, and have equalled their production when putting the first couple of pitches in play once the plate appearance goes for at least nine pitches.

    Contrary to the traditional sabermetric support for patience, seeing such a swing towards the pitcher suggests that aggressively going after pitches early in the count may be a viable strategy for some hitters. We'd really need to do a much deeper analysis, though, to see how individual batters perform in varying length plate appearances before concluding anything along such lines.

    As expected, batting average and on-base percentage match closely until four pitches, and we see a steady rise in OBP thereafter, indicating that long at bats start to turn the batter's way. Curiously, even slugging rises after a while, and more than can be explained by the rise in batting average alone. Perhaps a batter gains an advantage after having seen several pitches from the same pitcher in quick succession, allowing him to time his swing, or recognize the type of pitch earlier in its delivery. Or, as speculated earlier, maybe the inability to retire a hitter in six pitches indicates a tiring pitcher, or one struggling with his command.

    This chart is only a reflection of what has happened, and can't be used to directly infer causality, so we don't know which alternative is true. We can, however, note the break point between the outcomes at two and three pitches, where we see the sharpest decline in aggregate OPS.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    "...You just have a wider lens than one game."
    --Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, on why he didn't fly Josh Hamilton to Colorado for one game.

    "...its money well-spent. Don't screw around with your freedom."
    --Roy Tucker, on why you need to lawyer up when you find yourself swimming with sharks.

  15. #14
    Little Reds BandWagon Reds Nd2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    3,244

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
    I've heard announcers say that when a batter fouled one back into the screen, that means he's right on the pitch and juuuust missed it. However, I've never understood the correlation.
    Earl Weaver had a different opinion. He felt that when a pitcher was in a groove, the hitters would foul the pitches straight back but when the hitters were making good contact and fouling them down the lines, the pitcher was tiring and the hitters were catching up to the guy.
    "...You just have a wider lens than one game."
    --Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, on why he didn't fly Josh Hamilton to Colorado for one game.

    "...its money well-spent. Don't screw around with your freedom."
    --Roy Tucker, on why you need to lawyer up when you find yourself swimming with sharks.

  16. #15
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    6,271

    Re: Foul Balls - do they indicate anything?

    Excellent article, Nd2, and thanks for posting. I remember reading it back several years ago when Woolner first published it, but back then I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Now after I've researched some data on batting counts, Woolner's results make perfect sense to me.

    Generally when you run up a high pitch count in any individual plate appearance, you're almost always going to find yourself in a two-strike count, especially if you foul a ton of pitches off. In my findings, slugging percentage and OPS in all counts of 0-2, 1-2 and 2-2 takes a nosedive across the board for just about every hitter. Only when a hitter works the count to a 3-2 full count are they able to reestablish themselves into a count that enables them to hit for a slugging percentage that matches or exceeds their overall slugging percentage.

    Obviously, it goes without saying that when you start running up the pitch count past four or five pitches that on-base percentage goes up, just as the data indicates.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.


Turn Off Ads?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

Thank you, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves!


RedsZone.com is a privately owned website and is not affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds or Major League Baseball


Contact us: Boss | GIK | BCubb2003 | dabvu2498 | Gallen5862 | LexRedsFan | Plus Plus | RedlegJake | redsfan1995 | The Operator | Tommyjohn25