Getting to 0-2

Getting to an 0-2 count is highly advantageous to the pitcher, which comes as no surprise. After reaching an 0-2 count, Major League hitters so far in 2010 have batted .172/.203/.254. It is a simple formula: get ahead of hitters and things get easier for you. To that end, it was worth keeping an eye on which pitchers have been most effective at reaching that intermediary step in retiring hitters.

I limited my first look to starting pitchers with at least 100 batters faced on the season. If anyone needed another example of the supernova arrival of Stephen Strasburg then here is one more: Strasburg leads all starters with 29% of his batters faced ending up in an 0-2 count. Among those with a larger sample size comes runner up Cliff Lee at 28.3%. Obviously, Strasburg is a strikeout fiend and Cliff Lee could throw a beach ball through a pinhole so their high placement comes as no shock.

When it comes down to it, I expected a list of pitchers proficient at getting into 0-2 counts would correlate well with a list of pitchers sorted by strikeout to walk ratio. For the most part, that expectation was borne out. There were, however, a few notable exceptions that I found interesting. Among pitchers with stellar ratios, Roy Halladay (74th of 173), James Shields (94), and Zack Greinke (99) were much further down the 0-2 count list than seems fitting for such pitching profiles.

Conversely, Wade Davis (27), Joe Saunders (37), Gio Gonzalez (52), and Clay Buchholz (53) were much higher up on the 0-2 scale than their strikeout and walk rates would have suggested. Joe Saunders might be the least surprising of this group of four given his reputation for going 0-2 on hitters and then inevitably ending up in a full count due to his lack of any out pitch.

What does it all mean? I don’t propose that there is some grand insight here. Rather, I find it to be another perspective, another cross section on the battle between hitter and pitcher in each at bat. The top and bottom ten are produced below.

TOP TEN
Stephen Strasburg
Cliff Lee
Phil Hughes
Josh Johnson
Roy Oswalt
Scott Baker
Clayton Kershaw
Carlos Silva
Hisanori Takahashi
Homer Bailey

BOTTOM TEN
Justin Duchscherer
J.D. Martin
Dana Eveland
Brian Tallet
Mitch Talbot
Brian Bannister
Brian Moehler
Brian Burres
Doug Davis
Carlos Monasterios



Print This Post



Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Souldrummer
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Kind of interesting that JD Martin shows up on that bottom list because his rep is that he’s a strike thrower who doesn’t walk people but lacks K stuff. Probably does make sense, though, because he has to nibble. I guess that’s the flip side of this analysis, looking for the nibblers who get to the 2 and 3 ball counts and avoid the walks.

Brian
Guest
Brian
6 years 1 month ago

I think the moral of this story is that you shouldn’t name your son Brian.

joe
Guest
joe
6 years 1 month ago

Perhaps Halladay is a bit further down the list because he induces more 0-0 and 0-1 contact? (perhaps because of his strike throwing reputation and hitters thinking they best hit the first decent pitch).

Just a guess on my part, haven’t looked at the #’s.

MGL
Guest
MGL
6 years 1 month ago

A “beachball through a pinhole?” That makes no sense! ;)

verd14
Guest
verd14
6 years 1 month ago

i agree. not sure it was the correct analogy.

Travis L
Member
Member
Travis L
6 years 1 month ago

Exaggerated poetic license. I liked it.

joe
Guest
joe
6 years 1 month ago

Could I suggest a look at hitters once they reach 0-2? And whether that is loosely correlated to strikeout rate of K/BB ratio.

Oddly Robinson Cano is hitting .365 after the count reaches 0-2 (not to be mistaken for him hitting that on just an 0-2 count). Adrian Beltre is at .321. Placido Polanco .340. Pujols .310

Travis L
Member
Member
Travis L
6 years 1 month ago

That would be very interesting. It would be much more interesting to look at a triple slash line or other advanced metric vice one so dependent on luck, and prone to massively fluctuate.

Rusty
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

In 2007 Polanco hit .402 after falling behind 0-2.

RonDom
Guest
RonDom
6 years 1 month ago

Sabermetric prophet Brian Bannister is on the bottom half of this list? I am shocked.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C
6 years 1 month ago

This is interesting but it is really only useful for comparing high strike out pitchers to one another. Any pitcher that is happy enough with a ground out (Bannister, Halladay, etc.) will not perform so well in this metric. A more telling tale may be to look at the percentage of counts that go to 0-2 compared to 1-1 and 2-0, attempt to keep the number of pitches seen constant.

The other thing that bothers me about this is the population of hitters that wind up in an 0-2 count will be skewed towards the bottom half of the league further depressing the numbers. The batter population should be normalized in some manner.

JoeWho112
Guest
JoeWho112
6 years 1 month ago

Carlos Silva?!?!??1!!1/1?!!?!/1111?!?????!

Cidron
Member
Cidron
6 years 1 month ago

hehe, and it only gets easier when the pitcher gets the batter in a 3strike hole!! 100% K rate then!

Jon
Guest
Jon
6 years 1 month ago

Is the top and bottom ten in order? If so, wow, I had no idea Phil Hughes was getting to 0-2 on so many batters.

Matthias
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

I would like see if pitchers are able to maintain constant slash lines on 0-2 counts, year in and year out. Or perhaps it’s more like BABIP, likely to fluctuate greatly from any one year to the next.

wpDiscuz