Swing at First Pitch and Game Theory

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Mauer and Kevin Youkilis are two baseball players that are notoriously patient at the plate, and rarely swing at the first pitch of an at-bat. When they do swing at the first pitch how well do they do though? James Gentile (Doesn't that sound familiar?) of The Hardball Times looks at how we can use game theory to answer this question.

To answer this, I looked at wOBA on first pitch balls in play including home runs (or wOBA/CON for "wOBA on contact") for all hitters with at least 2,500 plate appearances since 2002. I then compared their wOBA/CON on first pitch against their wOBA/CON in all counts.

The hitters who put the ball in play least often on the first pitch are mostly players you would probably expect, that is, players with prominent reputations for having a patient approach at the plate.

The leaders in BIP% (balls in play percentage) since 2002 are all guys that we should expect. Their first pitch wOBA/CON was much higher than their overall wOBA/CON, and the difference was .024.

On the other hand the lowest BIP% since 2002 include players like Delmon Young and Melky Cabrera.

Overall there wasn't any evidence that hitters who swung less at the first pitch got any type of advantage when occasionally swinging at a 0-0 pitch.

Questions for the community:

1) How would you improve the study?

2) Why doesn't game theory in 0-0 counts have any significant payoffs?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker