March 22, 2020

When The Opposing Pitcher Throws More Than 25 Pitches In The First Inning, The Red Sox Are 9-3

[Draft Post, May 31, 2018]

When the opposing pitcher throws more than 25 pitches in the first inning, the Red Sox are 9-3.

That bit of information is true. But is it relevant? If the Red Sox see 28 pitches in the first inning of their next game, are they more likely (or very likely) to win? Does seeing 25+ pitches in the first inning somehow cause them to win?

You may think that, yes, in some ways, it might. If the Red Sox saw that many pitches, they probably had guys on base and may have scored a run or two. Teams that score first win more games than they lose - the Red Sox are 16-3 this year when they score first - so that early lead has to be a positive sign for the rest of the game.

It sounds a lot like other factoids that get mentioned during broadcasts or in articles.

I recently heard NESN's Dave O'Brien, in the context of Sandy Leon's three-run home run on May 6, state that since the beginning of 2017, the Red Sox are 19-8 when Leon drives in a run (or runs). O'Brien then referred to Leon as "a good luck charm" for the Red Sox.

There were numerous examples when NESN blocked off about 20% of the screen to show us a near-constant stream of things the announcers had just said or pointless factoids like how when Jackie Bradley hits a home run, the Red Sox are 30-7.

I'm sure some viewers see that and have renewed respect for Bradley because he clearly is a catalyst for the offense. But I'm assuming that many fans (though, sadly, not the majority) realize that these types of tidbits are useless and a waste of eye movement to read and (even worse) a distortion and deception.

How is Mookie Betts's ability to hit the starting pitcher or any of the relievers affected by the fact that a few innings ago, JBJ hit a home run? Or how does it affect him if Bradley is going to hit a home run in the next inning? Mookie has muscle memory, but he does not have muscle ESP. The fact that Sandy Leon drove in a run does not magically make the other eight hitters in the lineup more likely to drive in or score runs.

Back on April 3, O'Brien thought it was worth pointing out that Chris Sale has not had much luck against the teams in the NL East. And that was allegedly the reason why his stuff against the Marlins that night was not as sharp. This was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard an announcer say.

For 25 years (1969-93), Atlanta was in NL West. So it would not be far fetched to imagine the Marlins playing in the NL Central. If they were suddenly moved to a different division - and if the announcement came in the middle of Sale's outing - would his fastball suddenly gain a few mph and his curveball have more bite because his left arm knew that the exact same players were now in the NL Central and not the NL East?

My opinions about a pitcher's career record against a particular team are well-known. If not, read this. I have joked that announcers should give a pitcher's stats for the individual days of the week. "Sale is making his 20th start of the season on this sunny Sunday afternoon. The slender lefty is 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA on Sundays this year."

Does that seem silly to you? After all, he has not faced this particular team at all this year, who cares what he did against other teams on a similar day of the week? But many fans take seriously a pitcher's career record against a certain team, even though in almost all of those starts, he faced a different group of players. They just happen to be wearing the same kind of shirt as those earlier guys. Does a pitcher's splitter dive more if the shirts of a group of nine guys look similar to the shirts worn by nine different guys who could not get a rally going against him five years ago?

1 comment:

laura k said...

Ooo, are you publishing drafts now? I have a ton of weird drafts. Maybe I should make one big post -- draft ideas I never posted.