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Conventional wisdom

August 8, 2009

The conventional wisdom is that with two strikes you should protect the plate and be sure to swing at borderline pitches. I’m not sure that this isn’t completely and utterly wrong. I’m just judging from my own observations, but from what I can tell, umpires are very reluctant to call strikes on 1-2 and 0-2 counts. I mean, if the pitch is right down the middle, they’re usually going to call it, but generally in these counts the strike zone gets awfully small.

Ironically, umpires do this because they’re trying to not effect the game; they want the pitcher and hitter to decide them. The effect of this, of course, is that the umpires profoundly change the rules of the game.

Not that hitters necessarily realize it. This year, hitters have hit .279 on balls in play on 0-2 counts, .283 on 1-2 counts. On all other counts, it’s higher; the major league BABIP, in all counts, is .297. Obviously, they’re swinging at pitches they can’t hit. They might want to think about shrinking the strike zone in these counts, treating it like 3-0 or 3-1, and only swinging at pitches they really like.

Or not. I’m not really sure about this.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    August 9, 2009 3:14 pm

    It’s called an “evener” and it’s been common practice among some umps for many decades; it’s also true that, on 3-0, if a pitch is close, it’s a strike. The problem of course is a pitcher who has gotten two quick strikes probably deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  2. Kirk permalink
    August 10, 2009 6:06 pm

    You’ve got it all wrong. This has nothing to do with your observations, real or imaginary.

    1) On 0-2, 1-2 the pitcher is likely to either throw his BEST pitch (i.e. the one with the best batter deception) or he’s going to throw something intentionally off the plate which could be anything.

    2) The batter has to either face the pitchers best pitch or something completely random in location and movement.

    3) As the count moves towards favoring the hitter the likeliness of a fastball increases.

    4) Comparing an event where the home plate umpire makes a call (calling strikes on those counts) to something when that umpire isn’t making a ball/strike call (BAIP) is just a little wrong.

    5) At best, a umpire might have more work/challenge calling balls/strikes in 0-2/1-2 counts because of the propensity for breaking balls being thrown.

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