On Working The Pitch Count

July 13, 2008 – 9:41 pm

You see this type of complaining a lot, where it’s supposed to be good strategy to always take a lot of pitches and wear down the opposing pitcher.  Well, yes that makes sense — IF the pitcher is having problems getting the ball over the plate.  But how much sense does it make if he’s got great control?  You go up there and take the first pitch and you’re immediately behind in the count.  You try to extend the at-bat, and before you know it you’re down in the count 0-2 or 1-2 and now the pitcher has you right where he wants you.  Sorry, that makes no sense at all.  And this is exactly what the situation was Sunday against A.J. Burnett.  He was throwing 70% strikes, and getting the first pitch over 72% of the time (23 of 32 batters faced).  So yes, the Yankees had a lot of short at-bats and Burnett was able to pitch in to the 9th inning — but all that taking a lot of pitches and working the count would have done is resulted in a lot more strike outs.  The problem wasn’t that they weren’t grinding out at-bats, the problem is that they JUST ARE NOT HITTING right now.  Taking pitches and getting behind in the count won’t solve that problem.

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