Jackson: Pitchers as efficiency experts

From SABR member Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on October 23, 2015:

Doing more with less is always desirable. If you’re a pitcher, saving wear and tear on your arm can extend your career, so you make more money and get a better pension. Keeping the pitch count down is in a pitcher’s best interest, but the number of pitches thrown during a game continues to increase in the long run (from 136 in 1988, according to Baseball-Reference, to about 145 this past season, FanGraphs stats show).

Theoretically, one could pitch a complete game with just 27 pitches, but no one has ever come close to that. In a given inning, however, it is always possible for a pitcher who begins and completes that inning to get by with three pitches. This is the ultimate in minimizing stress on the old soupbone, but it is only rarely realized.

In the 115-year history of the American League, three-pitch innings occurred only 76 times. The first to do so was Cleveland’s Addie Joss on Aug. 22, 1903 in the second inning of an 11-3 victory over the A’s at League Park. The most recent was Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter, who turned the trick coming on in the ninth inning in a 12-7 loss to Tampa Bay on June 29, 2014 at Camden Yards.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/pitchers-as-efficiency-experts/

Originally published: October 23, 2015. Last Updated: October 23, 2015.