Posted By Jeff Fletcher on January 26, 2012 10:50 am
I know the MLB numbers are pretty good for all hitters who put the first pitch in play, but that a) only takes into account when they actually hit the ball and b) could be slanted because hitters are supposed to know to only swing at fat first-pitches, which would mean their results would naturally be good when they hit the ball.
But, I assumed, the vast majority of first pitches are not cookies, so anyone who swings at a lot of them is probably swinging at a lot of them that he shouldn’t.
So, I figured if I took a list of the guys who swung at the highest percentage of first pitches, and a list of the guys who swung at the lowest percentage, the guys in the latter list would be waaaaay better.
These are their overall stats, not the first-pitch stats, because I wanted to judge the overall success of the guys who swung at first pitches, not just their success on those first pitches. This is just 2011, only for players who had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title (502)…
(Before you ask, Pablo Sandoval, at 40 percent, would have made the first list, except he came up 35 plate appearances short of qualifying because he was hurt.)
Anyway, what you see here is that the guys who swung at most first pitches had cumulative numbers better than the guys who swung at the least. That surprised me.
I suppose I could redo this and look at overall swing percentage, and that might be a better indicator, but I just spent 45 minutes doing this, so I’m going to leave the rest up to someone else.