Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pitching by committee

Is it more difficult for a hitter to adapt to a pitcher or the vice-versa? By pure statistics it can be proven that pitchers are more successful in the beginning of the game, and hitters get more acclimatized during their 2nd and 3rd AB’s. In the 2005 regular season, batters averaged 0.220 in their 1st AB, 0.275 the 2nd time around, and .290 in the 3rd. This curve is clearly indicative of the fact that the hitters have seen more pitches during the game and are more familiar with the pitcher as the game progresses. Another stat that supports this is that player’s average at least 10-20 points lower in the 7th inning or later, when typically teams employ pitching changes.

Game Plan: Say good-bye to 5 day rotation, starting pitchers, specialist middle relief and closers. 12 pitchers in the roster should all be available to pitch any day, at any time. It is pitching by committee. The idea is to have the hitter face a new pitcher every time they come to the plate, unless of course it can be justified to hold on to the current pitcher given the history of the head-to-head match up between the batter and the pitcher.

There is no robust record of the pitchers getting better as the game progresses. Even the great Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling are phenomenal with era’s under 2.00 in first 5 innings as opposed to their 4.00+ era’s after the 6th inning. Take an average pitcher, say a Jarrod Washburn. His era with batters first time up is 2.5 and it goes up to 3.5, 4.5, and 5.2 each subsequent time around in the line up.

Of course, there are pitchers like Barry Zito and Jaime Moyer who are definitely better as the game progresses. Bottom-line is that the manager must be able to make the judgment on how and when to utilize his pitchers. To help the cause and make use of the basis in this argument, make most, if not all pitchers available on any given day and run a pitching by committee.

There is a lot to debate, I understand. Maybe I'll follow it up with a different post. But chew on this for a while..


Blogger Sayee said...

Interesting thought..But I think this will lead to a tremendous increase in game time.
Secondly,I think a plan like this would make basbell , anything but a relaxed ,strategy based sport that it is now.
I think it will get chaotic , with a possibility of upto 3 pitching changes for every inning.

Nice thought anyway !

1:35 PM  
Blogger Sriram said...

Sayee, I think you misunderstood it a little bit. I didn't suggest a pitching change between each batter. I meant, the same batter (when he comes back around) will face a different pitcher each time.

On the whole, if things work per plan, there might be only 4-5 pitchers used per game. (equal to # of At-Bats per batter)

1:47 PM  
Blogger jontygeethu said...

Couple of things..the pitchers who get better later in the game I am guessing are not power pitchers. Pitchers who rely more on their fastball to get people out..or set them up for a curve will lose their velocity/accuracy as game progresses. I am not saying that batters adjust from one AB to another (prime example if Pujols)but the pitcher factor should also be included in the argument. If your theory is correct then saving a game should be the easiest thing to do...but I don't think anyone would agree with that.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Sriram said...

hey geethu.. closers don't rely on the fact that the batters face them just once. of course that contributes to it. pitching under pressure trying to protect a short lead is what makes a good closer. its nerves. talent of course is a pre-requisite.

4:55 PM  
Blogger dinesh said...

Intersting thought, I've thought a lot about this myself...While I endorse the line of thinking, I will play devil's advocate and say why this should not be..

1. If you notice, the pitcher takes time to get acclimatized to the crowd, the strike zone, the home plate umpire and his own comfort level/control with the different array of pitches. Closers are deignated as closers, because apart from the their one killer pitch, they can also get used to this faster than some others.

2. Statistically thinking, when the pitchers arm gets tired, he issues more walks. But he would also issue more walks, when he's new at the mound because he has to get used to everything I talked to in point #1. So in innigs #1, there would be more walks compared to say an inning #3 or an inning #4 (don't have stats to prove this).

3. Also, the mindset of picthers. Doing what you ask people to do, would disturb the mindset of everybody. Neglecting the outliers like bartolo colon (who get better as the game goes on), let';s say newer is better and older is tired er. A guy would not know when he will be used and it'll be harder for him to fit into a groove. A closer has a closer mentality..a starter has a starter's mind set and the 7 th inning has the appropriate mindset. Do you want to take all that away and lay it all in the manager's hands ?

9:36 AM  
Blogger Sriram said...

I agree that its established in today's baseball that you are either a starter, reliever or a closer. Well, just 25 years ago, the term closer didn't exist. 3 and 4 day rotations worked like a charm for many many years. 140 pitches/game was a standard for a SP. What I'm getting to is it takes a while for newer concepts to get popular and accepted. Mind set can change. It will be worth it if results back it up.

The theory of "pitching by committee" is based on the statistical backing that hitters average better in subsequent AB's against the same pitcher, and also their overall average after the 7th inning is lower. (owed to pitching changes).

Getting acclamatized to the crowd, the umpire, and the location and control etc are all included as part of the stat that established that most hitters get better as the game goes, and most pitchers lose it as time goes on.

The uncertainity of the outliers (colons), is what makes it difficult to establish this.

12:11 PM  

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