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Thread: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

  1. #31
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Redsland
    Great thread! I hope I don't screw it up by posting something that's been covered elsewhere, but I've been scarce of late, and I'm having a tough time keeping up (I miss DanO ).

    Anyway, the stat you noted above, rather than being surprising, is exactly what I'd expect from a conservative, by-the-books running philosophy.

    When the batter is behind in the count, the pitcher is more likely to waste a breaking pitch. All things being equal, that's a good time to go. (Pitchouts and strong-armed catchers notwithstanding.) When the batter is ahead, OTOH, you have to look for him to bring the gas, making a CS easier to obtain.

    Again, outstanding work, and I'm sorry if I've gone and Tim McCarver'ed everything.
    Thanks, RL! Ya know, the more I think about it, the more you're right about that's what we should expect, especially when considering that hit-and-run situations largely occur when the batter is ahead in the count. Those types of situations sometimes force guys who rarely or never steal bags to be off on the pitch, and if the batter fails to make contact, those guys are sometimes thrown out by several feet.

    Of course, that begs the question on how valuable the hit-and-run is and if it's even worth utilizing at all during the vast majority of game situations. Knowing the success hitters have while ahead in the count, if a batter is already up there in a hitting count, it calls into question the intelligence of asking that batter to go after a potentially bad pitch during a hit-and-run. In some situations the hit-and-run actually works, but in most situations A) the batter swings at a bad pitch, thereby likely making an out or getting another strike, or B) the baserunner gets caught stealing during a situation where the guy at the plate was already ahead in the count.

    Of course, I wonder what Tim McCarver really would say about all of that
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  3. #32
    Member Spitball's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Cyclone, great, great stuff! Thanks.

    When I first started coaching young pitchers I told them that a first pitch strike was the key to pitching successfully. I soon learned that I needed to get them thinking the second strike was the key to expanding the zone and successful pitching. One can additionally look at the statistics for 0-0, 0-1, and 1-1 counts and see the need for pitchers to pitch aggressively.

    Again, Cyclone, this post is awesome.
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  4. #33
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
    Not that the umps use it, but isn't the strike zone a three-dimensional space?

    1988 - "The Strike Zone is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the top of the knees. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

    1996 - The Strike Zone is expanded on the lower end, moving from the top of the knees to the bottom of the knees.
    Yep, I think it was in BP where I read the 17 x 30 and 510 figures so they must have been generalizing, but for some reason it stuck in my mind. QuestTec gives allowances for different hitter sizes, and most umpires appear to do a decent enough job of getting the strike zone correct for different size hitters. Things could have changed, though, as it's been probably two years since I've read much on QuestTec and umpire statistics.
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  5. #34
    Member Phhhl's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Fantastic post. My only observation is that statistical data is used here to actually reinforce "conventional baseball wisdom" (which is more often than not disproved by statistical analysis). Pitchers are told to get ahead of hitters in the count. Good hitters learn to work the count to their favor. Here is why. Awesome.

  6. #35
    Member SteelSD's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Cyclone, that was a truly exceptional analysis.

    Much praise!
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

    "The single most important thing for a hitter is to get a good pitch to hit. A good hitter can hit a pitch that’s over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.”
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  7. #36
    Haunted by walks
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Cyclone has the highest reputation/posting ratio I've seen (with more than 500 posts). It's approaching 1.000.

  8. #37
    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Outstanding post. One for the archives.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

  9. #38
    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper
    I'll borrow the conclusions of Cyclone's work to promote an obsession of mine: the need to develop an automated strike zone.

    Balls and Strikes are WAY too important to be left in the hands of human beings!
    Agreed. I wish they would use Questec for balls and strikes. Too many times Dunn has been called out on pitches that would have been at the knees on Ryan Freel...and at the ankles of Dunn. I'd love to see Dunn's OPS if he had the same strikezone as everyone else.

    BTW, great post Cyclone! Brillant analysis.

  10. #39
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Much thanks for the additional work Cyclone....much as I would have suspected, although most of the high walk guys out-performed my guesstimates by a little.

  11. #40
    Member Crosley68's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Thanks Cyclone....terrific stuff.
    Let's play two!!!

  12. #41
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    On small thought---and it may have been posted already and i missed it...it was mentioned a pitcher may be more likely to thow breaking ball when ahead in the count and a fastball when behind (as it relates to stealing a base).

    Things to take into account:

    1. pitcher more likely to throw a pitch out when ahead in count.
    2. pitcher may throw fastball in ahead in the count --but they may throw it outside.

    I guess what i am saying is -we don't know with any authority why base stealers succeed better with certain counts. This is dang good work, but it doesn't answer that question. Sorry if i'm a jerk.

  13. #42
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Nah, Coop, you're not a jerk. Redsland brought up essentially the same point.

    Basically, you're right that we'd need more variables to answer the question better, and we'd most definitely need a larger sample size than just one season of stolen base data (preferably many many seasons). It's also possible that last season could have just been a fluke.

    Here's the SB data in a bit more detail for 2005:

    Code:
      HCPA     SB    CS    SB%   PA/SB Attempt
     64893   1118   507   68.8%     39.93
    
      PCPA     SB    CS    SB%   PA/SB Attempt
     57738    735   280   72.4%     56.88
    Obviously there's quite a bit more SB attempts in hitting counts than there are in pitching counts, and the success rate drops in hitting counts. My guess as to why this happens is primarily A) more fastballs thrown in hitting counts, as you and RL have stated, B) prolific basestealers likely accounting for a greater percentage of attempts in pitching counts than they do in hitting counts (mainly because non-prolific basestealers will rarely run in a pitching count) and C) more failed hit-and-run scenarios in hitting counts.
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  14. #43
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Cyclone, this is truly a great piece of work. I'd like to see RedsZone set up a second Archives-like forum called something like "The Baseball Academy" where posts like this can be preserved and quickly accessed by fans who want to get smarter about the game.

    Your data indicates that, as baseball conventional wisdom teaches, the quickest way to neuter a hitter is to get him into a pitchers count. The best hitters are the ones most adept at working the strike zone in their favor. While this is relevant to showing why the Reds are so successful offensively, perhaps the inverse could aslo be revealing as to why the Reds are so poor on the mound. I'd be curious to see how often Reds pitchers placed opposing batters in hitters counts vs. pitchers counts -- and I'd be willing to wager that Aaron Harang saw way more pitchers counts than Eric Milton did last year.
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  15. #44
    Puffy's Daddy Red Leader's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor
    While this is relevant to showing why the Reds are so successful offensively, perhaps the inverse could aslo be revealing as to why the Reds are so poor on the mound. I'd be curious to see how often Reds pitchers placed opposing batters in hitters counts vs. pitchers counts -- and I'd be willing to wager that Aaron Harang saw way more pitchers counts than Eric Milton did last year.
    I'd be willing to bet that not only did Eric Milton see a bunch of hitters counts (probably more than anyone else on the staff), but that he also probably got hammered in a good amount of pitchers counts as well, missing his spots, and making mistakes. That's the only way you end up with numbers as poor as Milton had last year.
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  16. #45
    Member ochre's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    They pitched to contact
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