With a runner on first, a pitcher’s approach to a batter changes in many ways. The most obvious is the delivery out of the stretch. More subtly, the pitcher can be distracted by the runner potentially stealing a base. To mitigate the runner’s chances of stealing a base, the pitcher has the option to throw over to first, thereby keeping the runner closer to the bag.
After a few throw overs, I often hear announcers remarking that the pitcher is “distracted” by the base runner, implying that the pitcher is compromising his effort to get the batter out. By expending his mental, and maybe also his physical, energy on the base runner, he commits less towards the batter. In this article, we attempt to demonstrate this proposed effect with a statistical analysis.