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(Deadspin)   Study finds that being patient at the plate doesn't correlate with scoring more runs. Sorry, Terry Francona   (regressing.deadspin.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, Red Sox, pitch count, Terry Francona, WRC, Moneyball, at bat  
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776 clicks; posted to Sports » on 10 Jul 2014 at 9:04 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



49 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2014-07-10 08:44:15 AM  
If a player goes to the plate with the intention of being patient, he's doing it wrong.

The walk should be a result of the approach, not the approach itself. A batter should go up there trying to get the pitcher to serve up a pitch that the batter can drive. If the pitcher happens not to give him one, then the walk is a result of that. But if the batter does get that type of pitch, then he should be taking an aggressive swing in an attempt to drive it somewhere. If he misses, and ends up striking out because of that, well, that hasn't hurt anything more than the batter's pride.
 
2014-07-10 08:54:06 AM  
Maybe not, but it does wear out starting pitchers faster, which is part of the strategy.
 
2014-07-10 09:11:00 AM  
Mets, Red Sox, and phillies are the basis of this claim? Yeah, I'm gonna keep believing in pitch count.

You're also forcing teams to hit the pen sooner, which means you have situations like the jays who have only 3 position players they can sub. It's dictation of strategy that has resulted in the least amount of offense in a long time
 
2014-07-10 09:12:26 AM  
Would have helped if they drew a regression line for us.
 
2014-07-10 09:19:00 AM  
There's a strong correlation with how insufferable it is to watch Boston, though.
 
2014-07-10 09:45:22 AM  
I can't see how the Phillies are on top the that list.  They're pretty notorious in the past 3 years of having guys like Howard, Rollins, Revere who don't take any pitches.

Utley can work a count and Ruiz, but that's really it.
 
2014-07-10 09:49:04 AM  
The article doesn't contain the details, but the text implies they washed out their data.  They looked at team offensive production/runs vs. pitches seen by team average.  There isn't a lot of difference between the average number of pitches seen by a team (some batters swing quickly, some are patient), but there likely is if you look per batter.

A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player.  You'd likely see a much larger difference there.
 
2014-07-10 09:56:21 AM  

Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.


Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.
 
2014-07-10 09:58:31 AM  

SurfaceTension: If a player goes to the plate with the intention of being patient, he's doing it wrong.

The walk should be a result of the approach, not the approach itself. A batter should go up there trying to get the pitcher to serve up a pitch that the batter can drive. If the pitcher happens not to give him one, then the walk is a result of that. But if the batter does get that type of pitch, then he should be taking an aggressive swing in an attempt to drive it somewhere. If he misses, and ends up striking out because of that, well, that hasn't hurt anything more than the batter's pride.


Who knew Russell Branyan is a Farker?
 
2014-07-10 10:02:11 AM  

roc6783: SurfaceTension: If a player goes to the plate with the intention of being patient, he's doing it wrong.

The walk should be a result of the approach, not the approach itself. A batter should go up there trying to get the pitcher to serve up a pitch that the batter can drive. If the pitcher happens not to give him one, then the walk is a result of that. But if the batter does get that type of pitch, then he should be taking an aggressive swing in an attempt to drive it somewhere. If he misses, and ends up striking out because of that, well, that hasn't hurt anything more than the batter's pride.

Who knew Russell Branyan is a Farker?


Actually I was thinking more along the lines of Babe Ruth, who once said "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it. I get back to the dugout and they ask me what it was I hit and I tell them I don't know except it looked good." (and if you don't get that one pitch to sock, taking a walk isn't the worst that can happen)
 
2014-07-10 10:02:24 AM  

Khellendros: Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.

Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.


How would that help? The hypothesis was that seeing more pitches = more runs.

/not snark, just not understanding
 
2014-07-10 10:08:29 AM  

SurfaceTension: roc6783: SurfaceTension: If a player goes to the plate with the intention of being patient, he's doing it wrong.

The walk should be a result of the approach, not the approach itself. A batter should go up there trying to get the pitcher to serve up a pitch that the batter can drive. If the pitcher happens not to give him one, then the walk is a result of that. But if the batter does get that type of pitch, then he should be taking an aggressive swing in an attempt to drive it somewhere. If he misses, and ends up striking out because of that, well, that hasn't hurt anything more than the batter's pride.

Who knew Russell Branyan is a Farker?

Actually I was thinking more along the lines of Babe Ruth, who once said "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it. I get back to the dugout and they ask me what it was I hit and I tell them I don't know except it looked good." (and if you don't get that one pitch to sock, taking a walk isn't the worst that can happen)


http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=724
 
2014-07-10 10:11:04 AM  

roc6783: Khellendros: Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.

Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.

How would that help? The hypothesis was that seeing more pitches = more runs.

/not snark, just not understanding


The differences between two teams in average pitches per plate appearance (which is what the study used) is minimal.  Likely much less than one.  This is because while you may have a few guys who are very patient, you have many guys that aren't.  The differences in whether more pitches matters because you've washed out the data.  It become very muddled when the mix of "patient" vs. "non patient" batters is fairly uniform across the league.

What you want to attempt to measure is how would an entire team of high pitch batters look in scoring vs. a team of more average pitch count batters.  This data set can't tell you that if you measure per existing team.  Measuring offensive output per plate appearance against pitch count would do this more effectively.
 
2014-07-10 10:13:38 AM  

SmackLT: Maybe not, but it does wear out starting pitchers faster, which is part of the strategy.


What's the purpose of wearing out the starting pitcher if not to score more runs?
 
2014-07-10 10:36:46 AM  

Khellendros: Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.

Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.


The player is important here - a pitcher would probably be more likely to throw strikes to bad hitters, and be more careful with good hitters. I think the approach needs to look at individual hitters, and whether they hit better after taking more pitches instead of swinging away.
 
2014-07-10 10:36:49 AM  
I saw this play out live with Don Wakawaka a couple of seasons ago in Seattle.

So yes.
 
2014-07-10 10:43:29 AM  

Khellendros: roc6783: Khellendros: Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.

Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.

How would that help? The hypothesis was that seeing more pitches = more runs.

/not snark, just not understanding

The differences between two teams in average pitches per plate appearance (which is what the study used) is minimal.  Likely much less than one.  This is because while you may have a few guys who are very patient, you have many guys that aren't.  The differences in whether more pitches matters because you've washed out the data.  It become very muddled when the mix of "patient" vs. "non patient" batters is fairly uniform across the league.

What you want to attempt to measure is how would an entire team of high pitch batters look in scoring vs. a team of more average pitch count batters.  This data set can't tell you that if you measure per existing team.  Measuring offensive output per plate appearance against pitch count would do this more effectively.


If I am understanding correctly, you are saying that if we assume that a high OBP is correlated with scoring more runs, then is taking more pitches correlated with a higher OBP, and therefore, more runs?
 
2014-07-10 10:58:45 AM  
metsmerizedonline.com
 
2014-07-10 11:00:44 AM  
metsmerizedonline.com
 
2014-07-10 11:04:29 AM  

roc6783: If I am understanding correctly, you are saying that if we assume that a high OBP is correlated with scoring more runs, then is taking more pitches correlated with a higher OBP, and therefore, more runs?


Yes, but I realize that is murky as well (double step correlation).

The attempt of the study is to say that batters don't need to take a lot of pitches to score runs, or more succinctly - being patient doesn't pay.  I'm arguing that their data set is a collection of "averages of averages", which washes out the phenomena they are attempting to measure - offensive production vs. pitch count.

The batter's job is to get on base, advance runners already on base, and not take actions that result in outs.  In short - get on base without recording an out.  I realize that is a slight simplification, but I think we can generally agree on that.  Looking at team stats doesn't really tell you much.  I would argue that measuring the payoff of patience (getting on base vs. high pitch count) is best measured by plate appearance, not runs per team.
 
2014-07-10 11:04:53 AM  

roc6783: Khellendros: roc6783: Khellendros: Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.

Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.

How would that help? The hypothesis was that seeing more pitches = more runs.

/not snark, just not understanding

The differences between two teams in average pitches per plate appearance (which is what the study used) is minimal.  Likely much less than one.  This is because while you may have a few guys who are very patient, you have many guys that aren't.  The differences in whether more pitches matters because you've washed out the data.  It become very muddled when the mix of "patient" vs. "non patient" batters is fairly uniform across the league.

What you want to attempt to measure is how would an entire team of high pitch batters look in scoring vs. a team of more average pitch count batters.  This data set can't tell you that if you measure per existing team.  Measuring offensive output per plate appearance against pitch count would do this more effectively.

If I am understanding correctly, you are saying that if we assume that a high OBP is correlated with scoring more runs, then is taking more pitches correlated with a higher OBP, and therefore, more runs?



No, he is saying that this particular study presents less than useful data as it simply uses team totals with little to no context.  Higher pitch counts are more useful to in correlating individual OBP, as opposed to team OBP, which without more granular data is simply too incomplete to create a strong correlation.
 
2014-07-10 11:05:41 AM  

v2micca: No, he is saying that this particular study presents less than useful data as it simply uses team totals with little to no context. Higher pitch counts are more useful to in correlating individual OBP, as opposed to team OBP, which without more granular data is simply too incomplete to create a strong correlation.


You said it better than I.  Thank you.
 
2014-07-10 11:11:27 AM  
Getting on base is good.  Making outs is bad.

That being said, I do think that sabermetrics coming of age in the steroid era may have thrown off the value of getting on base, at least in some people's eyes.  When everyone'shiatting for power and average, getting on base is more valuable than in the relatively low-offense era we're seeing now.  Making outs is still, obviously, bad, but maybe low OBP, high slugging and/or average guys aren't as bad as they seemed a decade ago.
 
2014-07-10 11:12:08 AM  
Study is wrong
 
2014-07-10 11:29:13 AM  

Khellendros: v2micca: No, he is saying that this particular study presents less than useful data as it simply uses team totals with little to no context. Higher pitch counts are more useful to in correlating individual OBP, as opposed to team OBP, which without more granular data is simply too incomplete to create a strong correlation.

You said it better than I.  Thank you.


I seemed to have mashed the refutation of this study and your proposal for a better data set into one jumbled mess, but for clarity, I agree with you on both points.
 
2014-07-10 11:32:57 AM  

Crewmannumber6: Study is wrong


The study isn't wrong, there really isn't a strong correlation between the number of pitches seen in an at bat and runs scored. I don't find it particularly surprisingly since there isn't a strong correlation between the number of pitches seen in an at bat and OBP (or OPS).
 
2014-07-10 11:47:02 AM  

Crewmannumber6: Study is wrong


The study used weak methodology.  The numbers are correct, and their conclusion of average team pitch count vs. runs is correct.  However, it doesn't test the initial idea as well as they think it does.
 
2014-07-10 11:52:05 AM  

Khellendros: Crewmannumber6: Study is wrong

The study used weak methodology.  The numbers are correct, and their conclusion of average team pitch count vs. runs is correct.  However, it doesn't test the initial idea as well as they think it does.



Actually, even average team pitch count would probably be subject to too much random variance due to outliers throwing off the data for the entire team.  I suspect team median pitch count would have a much higher correlation to OBP and thus scoring.
 
2014-07-10 11:55:23 AM  
Being patient at the plate doesn't mean you're taking a lot of pitches.

If a pitcher puts one in the zone you're hoping for on the first pitch it's ok to swing and drive it out of the park.
 
2014-07-10 12:06:56 PM  
2.bp.blogspot.com

VINDICATED!

/not really vindicated
 
2014-07-10 12:11:22 PM  

raukos7: Crewmannumber6: Study is wrong

The study isn't wrong, there really isn't a strong correlation between the number of pitches seen in an at bat and runs scored. I don't find it particularly surprisingly since there isn't a strong correlation between the number of pitches seen in an at bat and OBP (or OPS).


Yes, it is.  It's premise is fatally flawed to the point that the results are meaningless.  The object of the game is not to score the most runs over a season, it's  to score more runs than one other team. Today.  The secondary objective is to win more games than team you're playing against for the next three days.  Getting into the bullpen earlier via higher pitch counts helps with both goals because it reduces the options the other team has and forces them to stray from their preferences.

Scoring more runs than teams you're not playing is useless.  The game you're in dictates whether you need three runs or seven to win today. The score at a given time impacts the decisions on the field that lead to scoring or run prevention much more than whether a team averages 3 or 5 pitches per appearance. That's why total runs is all over the place when mapped to pitches faced; it's not reflective of any actual decision-making during the game.
 
2014-07-10 12:11:39 PM  
Can you posters who are proposing alternate statistics explain more clearly with some hypothetical examples?

For example, I'm imagining two teams.  On team A, all 9 players see exactly the same number of pitches.  On team B, 8 players always see exactly 1 pitch, whereas the 9th player see a very high number of pitches, enough so that B's team total equals A's team total.  Since teams A & B have the same number of players, and the sum of pitches seen is the same, the average pitches per player and average pitches per team are identical.

It sounds like some of you are arguing that the number of runs scored should be different given these two approaches, but we can't tell because the data washes out due to averaging.

But why do you think the number of runs scored should be different?  It is not obvious to me.  In fact it seems like both teams will face the same number of quality starters, crappy relievers, etc. so I could see them scoring the same number of runs.  Can you explain further why we need to look at this on the individual batter level rather than as a team?
 
2014-07-10 12:20:52 PM  
"Patience at the plate, what's that" says Vlad.

www3.pictures.zimbio.com
 
2014-07-10 12:23:50 PM  
because pitchers are on such tight pitch counts nowadays, seeing more pitches does knock out a starter faster and gets the opposing team deeper into the bullpen.  The assumption is the deeper into the bullpen you go, the worse the pitchers are and the more likely you will be able to score runs against the other team.  also, pitchers that have higher pitch counts are more fatigued, will throw for lower velocity, will lose movement on their pitches, are more likely to get injured and more likely to make a mistake.
 
2014-07-10 12:45:10 PM  

SlothB77: because pitchers are on such tight pitch counts nowadays, seeing more pitches does knock out a starter faster and gets the opposing team deeper into the bullpen.  The assumption is the deeper into the bullpen you go, the worse the pitchers are and the more likely you will be able to score runs against the other team.  also, pitchers that have higher pitch counts are more fatigued, will throw for lower velocity, will lose movement on their pitches, are more likely to get injured and more likely to make a mistake.


Right, except this study shows that those assumptions are false. The further into a bullpen a batting team gets, they don't score any more runs.
 
2014-07-10 12:53:14 PM  
Meanwhile Pierzynski wants to know if there is a catching job available for someone who doesn't give a shiat about patience at the plate.

/Once saw the Rays throw him 8 straight balls for a strikeout.
 
2014-07-10 01:13:18 PM  

bubbaprog: Right, except this study shows that those assumptions are false. The further into a bullpen a batting team gets, they don't score any more runs.


It doesn't really show anything at all.

What if you start raking the guy because he's tired so you're not taking pitches anymore.  So you worked him early and now are doing the scoring, but the average is not reflective of the work he had to do in innings 1-3?
 
2014-07-10 01:21:53 PM  
b-b-b-b-but Moneyball!!!
 
2014-07-10 01:34:44 PM  

roc6783: Khellendros: Khellendros: A more useful study wouldn't look at team approach differences, it would look at on base numbers vs. pitches seen per player. You'd likely see a much larger difference there.

Or even more usefully - pitches per plate appearance, regardless of the player.

How would that help? The hypothesis was that seeing more pitches = more runs.

/not snark, just not understanding


Perhaps he meant  - seeing more balls = likelihood of seeing a good pitch or walk = the likelihood of being on base = likelihood of getting a run (also pitcher fatigue should be inserted if the pitchers count increases, which might increase the likelihood of the pitcher walking or throwing a duck to the batter)
 
2014-07-10 01:40:55 PM  
You know what is the most important piece to winning at baseball? Scoring more runs than the other team.
 
2014-07-10 01:47:59 PM  

Karma Curmudgeon: raukos7: Crewmannumber6: Study is wrong

The study isn't wrong, there really isn't a strong correlation between the number of pitches seen in an at bat and runs scored. I don't find it particularly surprisingly since there isn't a strong correlation between the number of pitches seen in an at bat and OBP (or OPS).

Yes, it is.  It's premise is fatally flawed to the point that the results are meaningless.  The object of the game is not to score the most runs over a season, it's  to score more runs than one other team. Today.  The secondary objective is to win more games than team you're playing against for the next three days.  Getting into the bullpen earlier via higher pitch counts helps with both goals because it reduces the options the other team has and forces them to stray from their preferences.

Scoring more runs than teams you're not playing is useless.  The game you're in dictates whether you need three runs or seven to win today. The score at a given time impacts the decisions on the field that lead to scoring or run prevention much more than whether a team averages 3 or 5 pitches per appearance. That's why total runs is all over the place when mapped to pitches faced; it's not reflective of any actual decision-making during the game.


A team that scores more runs over a season is more likely to score more runs in a single game than a team that scores fewer runs over a season.

So uh... yeah.  "This doesn't matter because only individual games matter!" is silly.  Season-long run differential is very, very, very, very, VERY closely correlated with winning percentage.  Over a 162 game season, you almost never get a team being outscored on the season but winning a lot of games.
 
2014-07-10 01:54:22 PM  

Dafatone: So uh... yeah.  "This doesn't matter because only individual games matter!" is silly.  Season-long run differential is very, very, very, very, VERY closely correlated with winning percentage.  Over a 162 game season, you almost never get a team being outscored on the season but winning a lot of games.


Well considering run differential in individual games leads to run differential for the whole season, you're the one who be silly.

Run differential for the season is a symptom of winning games, not a cause of.
 
2014-07-10 02:36:54 PM  
You know who else lacks patience at the plate?

mediadownloads.mlb.com

usatthebiglead.files.wordpress.com

www.oneresult.com
 
2014-07-10 02:55:44 PM  
I can't dig into this as much as I want to right now, but three quick takeaways from the original article:

1. "We can find some effect of plate patience if we step back to hits, strikeouts, and walks. Over this same time period, there is a significant (p<.05) but weak (r=.21) positive connection between team P/PA and hits, a highly significant (p<.001) and moderate (r=.4) positive connection between team P/PA and strikeouts, and a highly significant (p<.001) and rather strong (r=.56) positive connection between team P/PA and walks."

This, I think, is generally all that matters. Frankly, I'm surprised there's any correlation between patience & hits, but even so, the fact remains: while walks are nice, you do still need some hits. And being patient just doesn't affect that enough.

2. "I suspect this is because the concept of an overall team "approach" to plate patience is probably a myth. The idea that all players on a team would share the same plate approach conflates the stars with the scrubs, the top of the lineup with the bottom, and the starters with the inevitable replacements."

Keeping in mind that the range of P/PA is extremely small, this just means there's a lot of noise here. I'd expect noise to result in no real results.

3. Deadspin completely misunderstood part of this. They said "The only significant relationship found in the article is that patient teams were more likely to garner another at bat when a starting pitcher is going through the lineup for the fourth time. But this resulting added at bat generally happens at the bottom of the lineup, which reduces its impact." It's actually the opposite:"the lineup reward for the most impatient teams was an additional at-bat for their worst hitter against the opposing starter."

Reading is hard. Of course they also seem to think Francona still manages the Red Sox, so....

Anyway, it's somewhat interesting, but I'd like to see at least two other pieces of info:

P/PA vs .ISO
P/PA vs PA/G

I've got some thoughts on what they might be, but still.
 
2014-07-10 03:14:14 PM  

Dafatone: "This doesn't matter because only individual games matter!" is silly. Season-long run differential is very, very, very, very, VERY closely correlated with winning percentage. Over a 162 game season, you almost never get a team being outscored on the season but winning a lot of games.


Run differential, not runs scored.  Run differential, as in how the team competed against the teams they actually played against.  Thanks for supporting my point.  Most people around hear just write "this" to do that, but perhaps you're behind on your doofus quota for today.
 
2014-07-10 05:07:18 PM  

DeWayne Mann: Anyway, it's somewhat interesting, but I'd like to see at least two other pieces of info:

P/PA vs .ISO
P/PA vs PA/G


They should also tie in PitchFx.  Taking pitches is only a good strategy if you're taking the ones that miss the strike zone.  Telling a batter with poor pitch recognition to try to work the count means more called strikes in practice.

Of course, smart teams know this, and you could end up with average team-wide P/PA by telling your batters with good eyes to work the count, and telling your hackers to hack.  This would be good for run scoring, but would be completely invisible to the more simplistic study cited in TFA.

It wouldn't be hard to look at team-specific Zone%, O-Swing%, Z-Swing%, etc.  I'd bet on strong correlations there.
 
2014-07-10 05:14:49 PM  
Study finds that Deadspin articles don't correlate with actual sports analysis.
 
2014-07-10 08:03:10 PM  
Selection bias, FTW.  I bet that if you corrected for inherent batting quality, you'd find that patience increases run  production, ceteris paribus.

/study it out
 
2014-07-11 07:26:39 AM  

Sin_City_Superhero: You know who else lacks patience at the plate?

[mediadownloads.mlb.com image 640x360]

[usatthebiglead.files.wordpress.com image 452x333]

[www.oneresult.com image 496x372]


I love Kruk, he definitely doesn't stick to the party line.

My favorite story about him goes back to his days in Philly. He was sitting at a table signing autographs at some fan function and a lady comes up to him rips into him about smoking in front of all these impressionable kids and how he should put out a more positive image blah blah blah and how can he, a professional athlete even think of smoking.

He lets her finish, takes a drag off his cig, looks at her and says "Lady, I'm not an athlete. I'm a ballplayer." Turns around and goes back to signing autographs.
 
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