Meyer: Dynamic run value of throwing a strike (instead of a ball)

From SABR member Dan Meyer at The Hardball Times on May 6, 2015:

The importance of the first pitch in an at-bat has been well documented. A favorable count for a hitter can make a bench bat into a feared slugger, while a favorable count for a pitcher can make a mop-up man into an ace. As the count gets deeper and the at-bat approaches its conclusion the expected result can swing drastically in favor of one party or another. How exactly do the odds swing with each pitch?

We can tabulate average wOBA values at each step in the count and then convert them into a run value for a strike or a ball in any count. Prior work has examined the run value of a strike, but in limited contexts. I will calculate the value of a strike by count and in a neutral context. We normally think of these values as static. I will show how these values have changed as the run scoring environment has become depressed and how these values are affected by the quality of hitter. Finally I will explore why these values change the way they do.

These run values can be used in a variety of ways. I will focus on the use of a run value measure to be used at the heart of a catcher framing metric. The calculations can also be useful in other contexts, for example, awareness of the value of a strike in different counts can help dictate strategy.

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Originally published: May 6, 2015. Last Updated: May 6, 2015.