Lemire: Debunking the myth of the first-pitch strike

From Joe Lemire at Grantland.com on June 2, 2014:

People often say that strike one is the best pitch in a pitcher’s arsenal. Increasingly, box scores tally first-pitch strikes, and broadcasters tout their efficacy. The concept has seeped so far into our collective consciousness that it even has its own Wikipedia page.

The problem is that it’s more mythical than material.

“I think it’s very overrated,” Reds first baseman Joey Votto says, adding, “I don’t particularly concern myself with it. I always want to be in a good hitter’s count, but I’ve found that I get into a lot of two-strike counts and still have success overall.”

While it’s fair to argue that a former MVP like Votto might have more success in pitcher counts than the average hitter, the overall numbers support his comments. Analysis of count-specific outcomes coupled with the strategic benefits of seeing more of a pitcher’s arsenal support the notion that the importance of an at-bat’s first pitch is overstated. The best pitch for a pitcher is strike two, and the most important pitch is thrown on 1-1 counts.

Read the full article here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/debunking-mlb-first-pitch-strike-myth/

Originally published: June 2, 2014. Last Updated: June 2, 2014.