Part One: Statistics and Pitching to Different Types of Hitters
by Peter Geppert, Public Relations
Few games are as driven by and carry such a devout following in statistics like the game of baseball. The length of seasons and the relative consistency in the presence of players in the sport compared to other sports allows for statisticians to draw from large samples of player performance. Also unlike other sports baseball has gone through a transformation in the last decade about the way players should be valued by the statistics that measure their performance. This transformation has everyone in the game taking notice, from historic teams like the Boston Red Sox all the way to your very own Madison Mallards.
In the old school of baseball thought, quality players were measured more on batting average and more superficial statistics like home runs and stolen bases, but recent renovations to the way players are evaluated has completely changed the game. Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball chronicles the approach that Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane took to finding value in players that were overlooked by traditional baseball scouting methods.
In the new world of baseball statistics brought on by Beane on base percentage (OBP) is the king of all statistics. OBP calculates the amount of times a hitter reaches base for any reason besides an error, fielder’s choice, or some type of defensive obstruction. The statistic can be calculated by adding up a hitters walks, hits, and times they are hit by pitch and then dividing it by their total at-bats and sacrifices.
“The first thing we look at when breaking down a team is how often they get on base,” Mallards pitching coach Keith Ritsche said. “From there you can tell a lot about their approach, and how you should pitch to them.”
At a more basic level the amount of walks that a hitter draws versus that amount of times they strikeout is usually a good indicator of offensive style and directly impacts the approach pitchers take towards them.
“If a guys is known for a taking a lot of walks then its important to be direct with him early in the count,” Mallards hitting coach Jordan Comadena said. “Throwing him fastballs and getting ahead with strikes is really important.”
“On the other hand if a guy is known for being a little more aggressive and a free swinger then we want to throw him more breaking balls,” Ritsche added. “Locating pitches outside the zone is crucial in those situations.”
Whatever a player’s tendencies, that player can always expect that opposing coaches and players will be able to discover them through carefully looking through in depth statistics and constant evaluation when they are on the field.
Today’s feature is the first part in a multi-part conversation that will chronicle the changing school of thought on statistics in baseball.
The 2012 season is upon us! Single-game tickets are on-sale for all Mallards home games!
The Madison Mallards are part of the 16-team Northwoods League. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate League in North America.