August 8, 2006


Plate discipline is secret to October success (Bob Klapisch, 8/08/06,

[T]he Bombers have been anything but the monster home run hitters they envisioned this spring, and they'll fall well short of the 1,000 runs they were supposed to score (at least in their dreams). In fact, when the Yankees begin a three-game series with the White Sox, they'll be facing an opponent that has scored more runs, blasted more HRs, and hit for a higher average and slugging percentage.

Surprisingly, though, the Yankees have drawn 74 more walks than the defending world champs, and therein lies what Joe Torre calls the secret to October success. In fact, acquiring Abreu from the Phillies wasn't just about replacing Gary Sheffield's run production. It was designed to promote an improvement in the Yankees' on-base percentage, and more specifically, to wear out opposing pitchers by going deeper into counts.

Abreu leads the majors in pitches per plate appearance (4.48) and is second only to Kevin Youkilis in the number of pitches he's seen this season. Abreu left the Phillies as the NL's leader in walks, and has joined forces with another ultra-patient Yankee, Jason Giambi, whose 4.36 PPA ratio ranks him third in the AL and fourth in the majors. [...]

But if anyone has a problem with first-pitch swinging, it would've been the "Moneyball" era A's. In 2003, at the height of Billy Beane's fixation with on-base percentage, the A's swung at only 18.5 percent of first-pitch strikes, the lowest in the American League according to STATS, Inc. Although they batted .343 in those situations -- meaning they clearly identified which strikes were most hittable -- Oakland's hitters were otherwise falling into 0-1 counts more often than anyone else.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 8, 2006 12:21 PM
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