One of the tenets of baseball is the belief that working the count is a good thing. A number of positives are said to come out of working the count. First, by working the count a team gets to see all the pitches of the opposing pitcher. Second, by showing good plate discipline you force the opposing starter into throwing a greater number of pitches. This leads to getting into their bullpen sooner. Third, the more pitches you make a pitcher throw the more likely he is to make a mistake and leave a pitch over the middle of the plate. Fourth, taking a lot of pitches leads to walks and walks lead to runs. These are the major benefits touted; but they all add up to one thing - scoring more runs. This is a myth. At least for the 2007 Reds it is.
I looked the number of pitches and the number of pitches by the opposing team in two categories - overall and by starter. The average number of pitches seen by a Reds' hitter in 2007 is 3.77. Using this information the starts were grouped as follows: 4.00 or more pitches is Group 1, 3.54 - 3.99 pitches is Group 2 and 3.53 or fewer pitches is Group 3. Here is the result of that grouping both overall and by starter.
In both instances, overall and by starter, the fewest runs were scored in the group that had seen the most pitches per batter. Perhaps 66 games is too small a sample size. But it does seem to indicate that seeing more pitches doesn't lead to scoring more runs. If more pitches lead to less runs being scored, then why doesn't the group that sees the least pitches score the most runs? I think one reason is because the group that sees the least number of pitches is probably seeing a greater percentage of strikes, and as a consequence, is falling behind a lot.Code:OVERALL RUNS GAMES RPG GRP 1 66 18 3.67 GRP 2 144 28 5.14 GRP 3 86 20 4.30 STARTER RUNS GAMES RPG GRP 1 66 18 3.67 GRP 2 157 32 4.91 GRP 3 73 16 4.56
This puts the pitcher at the advantage. This study would seem to indicate one thing - take a hack at the first good pitch you see.
Since I had all of the starters' pitches per start available for Cincinnati and their opponents, I took a quick look at Pitcher Abuse Points. Here is a chart that shows the number of starts and the number of PAPs for each. Not suprisingly, JN cracks the whip early and often in that regard.
Cincinnati starters have gone over the 100 pitch mark in 37 of 66 games.Code:O-PAP 21753 CIN-PAP 102811 O-PAPG 20 CIN-PAPG 37
(56% The opposition starters only 20 of 66 games. (30%) In these games Cincinnati has compiled roughly 5 times as many Pitcher Abuse Points.