Cameron: Maybe MLB hitters are being too passive

From Dave Cameron at FanGraphs on June 11, 2014:

I’m going to begin this column with an unremarkable looking fact.

When a Major League hitter has swung at the first pitch of an at-bat in 2014, the average OPS in that at-bat — not just OPS on first pitch swings, but the OPS for all at-bats in which there was a first pitch swing — is .710. The average OPS for an at-bat in which the batter does not swing is .708. For all intents and purposes, that is a statistical tie, and suggests that there has been no obvious advantage to pursuing either approach this year.

Here’s why that unremarkable looking fact actually is remarkable; if this lasts, it would mark the first season ever recorded — as far back as Baseball-Reference’s data for that split goes anyway, which for this specific number is 1988 — where the OPS on at-bats with a first pitch swing was higher than the OPS on at-bats with a first pitch take. For most of the last 25 years, it hasn’t even been close.

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Originally published: June 11, 2014. Last Updated: June 11, 2014.