Weinberg: Should one strike make this much difference?

From Neil Weinberg at The Hardball Times on September 1, 2015, with mention of SABR member Jon Roegele:

There’s no one perfect way to approach a plate appearance. There’s no magic formula to decode and apply. A plate appearance is a complicated and interdependent interaction without a clear solution. Think of all of the different variables. The pitcher decides on the pitch type and location, then has to execute it. The batter has to react to that decision and then execute his reaction. The catcher influences things. So does the umpire. There are base runners, the inning, the score, and the weather. And then there are more pitches if the plate appearance doesn’t end on the first one.

A single plate appearance itself is a scene in a much larger act in a much larger drama, but it’s a fundamental building block. There are hundreds of thousands of them every season and more than a million per decade. Some end in home runs and some end in three-pitch strikeouts. Baseball is difficult and the sheer number of opportunities means we’re bound to observe some unusual things. At any one moment, a pitcher could throw a foolish pitch or a batter could watch a perfect strike on 0-2 and no one would decide to study it.

Individual moments of confusion happen all the time in baseball. You’d be surprised if they didn’t. Yet over the course of hundreds of thousands of plate appearances, you would expect the madness to wash out. Sometimes batters whiff on meatballs, but they usually crush them. Despite the irrationality of a lot of baseball discourse, the game itself is painfully rational. Given a big enough sample, everything makes sense.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/should-one-strike-make-this-much-difference/

Originally published: September 7, 2015. Last Updated: September 7, 2015.