Impatience could determine who wins the ALDS.

On the other side of the coin, I’d like to see Ivan Nova keep the ball off the plate against Delmon Young.  Young swung at the first pitch in 11 of his first 13 plate appearances in the ALDS.  Both of his homers and three of his four hits came off the opening pitch of an at-bat.  In Game 4, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes stayed well out of the zone and, though Delmon somewhat surprisingly managed to lay off several pitches, he finished 0-for-3 with a BB.  I expect he’ll be itching to get the bat off his shoulder tonight and Nova needs to let him beat himself.

In all other situations, however, I think Nova should attack Detroit’s hitters.  He had a unusual number of swinging strikes in Game 1, including swinging strikeouts of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson, and Ryan Raburn.  Through his first six innings, very few balls were put in play with any authority.  He only got himself into trouble when he gave up free passes, as he did in the 5th and 9th.  Nova needs to make the Tigers prove they can get an extra-base hit off of him before he starts nibbling.

About Matt Seybold

Matt teaches at The University of Alabama. Roll Tide. He specializes in American Literature and Rhetorical Economics. Fate chose for him the peculiar perdition of rooting for the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Clippers.

8 thoughts on “Impatience could determine who wins the ALDS.

  1. Regarding the splits against Fister, I think you need to compare them to overall splits against all pitchers, if you haven't. Also, one reason hitters may do well on the first pitch is that they swing at good first pitches to hit. If they are less patient, and swing at more first pitches, those good numbers may decline somewhat.

    • While, obviously, there are huge splits anytime the count shifts in favor of the pitcher (or hitter), Fister's OOPS is improved even 120 points more than the average AL pitcher.

      Average AL P: First Pitch: .867, After 0-1: .612, Diff: -.255
      Fister: First Pitch: .889, After 0-1: .513, Diff: -.376

      • Again, while I generally endorse patient approaches, there is no denying some pitchers can use a hitter's "count-working" skills to gain advantage. I think Fister is one of those pitchers.

      • Just to be pedantic….a difference of 22 points of OOPS on the first pitch is really not significant. That's roughly one extra double all season, and well within normal luck fluctuations. The argument those numbers really support strongly is not "come out hacking", it's "don't fall behind or you're in trouble". Considering Fister had a pretty terrific season, that's not particularly surprising.

        • The 22-point difference is not where the argument resides. It's the 120 point difference after Strike 1 that is significant.

          • Yeah, but a significant part of the 120-point difference is the fact that he was just a good pitcher this year, and like most good pitchers he is much better-than average at getting guys out once he gets ahead in the count. Look at Fister next to some other aces:

            Average AL P: First Pitch: .867, After 0-1: .612, Diff: -.255
            Fister First pitch: .889 OPS. After 0-1: .513. Diff: -.376
            Verlander First pitch: .830 OPS. After 0-1: .509. Diff: -.321
            Sabathia First pitch: .834 OPS. After 0-1: .536. Diff: -.298
            Hernandez First pitch: .867 OPS. After 0-1: .564. Diff: -.303

            They’re all much lower than league average after 0-1; the only thing that makes Fister’s ‘Diff’ pop out is the first-pitch part of the equation. Which is roughly 50 points higher than those guys, or 22 compared to the league average — either way, not particularly relevant for OPS over 91 at bats.

            It could be totally the other way around, too. Take Brandon Morrow:

            Morrow First pitch: 1.133 OPS. After 0-1: .509. Diff: -.525

            Is this a gigantic argument to start swinging at the first pitch when facing Morrow? Nahhhh, it’s actually the exact opposite. He’s so erratic, hitters have (correctly) realized the way to hit against Morrow is to be super selective on the first pitch, only swinging when he absolutely grooves a fastball (his AB decided on the first pitch is 10.2%, compared to the league average of 11.6%). Even though he is as effective as Verlander after 0-1, getting there happens infrequently enough, and letting him dig a hole is advantageous enough, that Morrow had another ineffective season because hitters were patient, even though it meant they were really hosed when he got a first pitch strike over.

            I don’t mean that's necessarily the case with Fister, but it’s an example of where a high ‘Diff’ indicates that the correct way to approach the pitcher is the exact opposite of what you’re arguing.