One thing I really wanted to hit on this year is promoting an approach at the plate, for what to look for, positive counts, neutral/guess/ and 2 strike I wanted to have some data to back this up. We all understand that in counts where the pitcher is behind (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 3-1) we as hitters were more likely to get a fastball. That's kind of a baseline knowledge when it comes to basic pitch calling, and the approach we as hitter want to take. I understood it, and have used it as our "positive counts" when we were hunting a fastball over the plate. This was our aggressive swing, look to hit something in the gap, we would take offspeed, and attack fastballs. This was our standard, and it made sense, but I also didn't know why it made sense. I was also looking for something that would put us into more positive counts, and be able to have a different approach on counts where we might gain a small advantage. Which is our guess counts. When I first started this pitch type tracking my guess counts were (0-1, 1-1, 2-1) I felt that the pitcher was at a large advantage in these counts, and we as hitters were truly in a guessing mode. Pitchers had control over the at-bat, and it was our job to hammer a mistake, but also look for something we can handle regardless of pitch type. Then we had our 2 strike counts. These we weren't concerned about pitch type, or being too selective. It was about expanding to the umpires zone. We know that every umpire is different, and by saying we're expanding to his zone we take the plate, and what we think is a strike out of it. If that umpire is calling 1 ball in, 1 ball out, then we expand to that. We have to understand that our zone expands to whatever that zone is, and we fight non-stop, win or lose.
I started taking this information later in the year when I felt like we needed more of a plan at the plate, and were struggling with understanding the thought process we should have as far as pitch selection. We had talked about positive counts, neutral counts, and 2 strike, but we were still struggling the why. Why are those counts good for us to hunt a fastball? Why should we be prepared for everything at these other counts? The why was causing us to struggle since the players needed that information in order to start to understand the why. I believe in transparency, and I also believe everything I do has to have a purpose. When I started to understand that the players needed the information in order to buy in it was an easy fix. I started taking the chart, and this is the information I was able to find out. Again this isn't every game, but I'll post the 11 game breakdown by game tab in the chart, and also the whole season long breakdown. This was by far my favorite chart to take so far, and I hope that seeing some of the information will help you develop a plan for your hitters. Check out beneath the charts for my reflection.
A little information about this data. First, I didn't collect anything after a foul ball. So didn't get more than 1 result per 2 strike count. This was frustrating at first, but I then realized after looking at the information on hand that the results were so mixed they wouldn't have made a difference. I will post the 2 strike information on another post about 2 strike counts, and what people were throwing when we had fouled off the first one. Second, I only used fastball, curveball, changeup. They should probably be labeled fastball, breaker, off-speed. I used those 3 since I couldn't easily identify the differences between some of these sliders, and curveballs, or splits and changeups. These were high school arms, and I was in the dugout keeping this chart, not to mention post at bat accounts from hitters made me realize some of the "sliders" were actually curveballs, and vice versa. So I just used those 3 units.
This chart posted is not the product I used to collect the data, and to start this whole process off. I ended up amending this chart quite a bit in order to put information like who calls pitches, what the pitcher throws, velo and difference between pitches. I also collected information of called strike, foul ball, whiff, ball, and ball in play. Those let me end up seeing just how often we were getting an 0-2 fastball that was a ball, as a waste pitch. This information was used to start to get an idea of how they were pitching our team, but as I started diving deeper into it I realized that individual approaches were necessary for this data. Our 3 and 4 hole hitters were seeing a lot of first pitch junk regardless of who they were. It was more of an approach to pitch to the position than the kid. I have thought about deleting their data, and seeing what the rest of it looks like. May provide insight for the rest of the team. Most of these were from teams who's coaches called pitches, but there were also some where catchers called it, and pitchers made decisions based off of previous pitch and swing.
To me the most interesting ones were some of the positive counts, but also the 2-1 count. (which I now see as a positive count for all hitters) As a player I never saw a 2-1 count being something I had to get a strike in. I was still in a decent position. The true neutral counts of baseball being 1-0, 2-1, 3-2. I always thought of 2-1 being a possible changeup count as a pitcher. As a hitter I still knew there was something that could get them by for a strike. A decent curveball, or good changeup were my 2-1 pitches as a pitcher, and thought for sure this was what I would see at least more of from this study. The second one being a 1-0 count. I understood that pitchers always wanted a first pitch strike, but to see that many fastballs was shocking. And of course the last one. 2-0. Of 53 at-bats that got to a 2-0 count. Not a single pitch thrown was not a fastball. This was 11 games of not a single fastball being thrown in a 2-0 count. Obviously this information was very useful in coming up with a better plan for hitters, but also to show pitchers that sometimes you have to take chances just to keep the hitter guessing.
The information gathered was from a variety of pitchers. We saw a few D1 arms, (oklahoma state, Texas Tech, UT, and Texas A&M) 1 Junior college arm, and a couple of just good high school pitchers. I really enjoyed having data to back up what I was telling my hitters, and they enjoyed being able to see the progression before their next at-bat. It showed tendencies, and also what they should be hunting in certain counts. I plan on continuing to collect this info, with more detail next baseball season. Hopefully the results will be more detailed with velos, and result of the pitch posted.
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