Extreme First Pitch Swingers (and Takers)

The first pitch is a complicated moment in any at-bat. The strike rate on the pitch is rising as pitchers pump it in the zone to get their advantage. And yet the swing rate on the pitch is diving as hitters try to be more patient in an era in which on-base percentage is praised. There’s evidence that this new approach isn’t any worse than the old-school approach — but that’s for baseball as a whole.

There have to be batters that are taking or swinging too much on the first pitch of an at-bat. If you’re a selective hitter, it makes sense to take. You’ll get a lot of 1-0 counts, and you’ll have a great sense of what’s a hittable pitch. If you’re more of an aggressive hitter that reaches often, maybe it makes sense to swing more often at strike one. You’ll avoid more 0-1 counts, and you’ll put some nice pitches into play.

We talked about this a little with Pablo Sandoval, and I’ll take credit for the fact that he’s swung at almost two-thirds of his first pitches since that piece ran. He’s an aggressive guy without a great sense of the zone, he should be swinging at anything he likes from the first pitch onwards.

Can we find other hitters that might benefit from a change?

First, let’s look at the guys swinging at the first pitch the most in baseball this year. Most of them are free-swingers. Are there any disciplined guys at the top of this list seeing more strikeouts than they perhaps deserve? Let’s cull the top of the list and look at guys with a reach rate under 35% (yes, the top five in first-pitch swing rate are Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, Hector Sanchez, Junior Lake and J.P. Arencibia — woof).

Player FPSwing% Reach% BB% K%
J.P. Arencibia 47.5% 30.0% 5.1% 22.0%
Brandon Belt 43.9% 33.4% 5.8% 27.3%
Matt Holliday 43.6% 31.3% 12.2% 14.6%
Kevin Kouzmanoff 43.1% 30.7% 3.9% 13.7%
Mark Reynolds 43.0% 28.6% 9.6% 36.0%
Brandon Barnes 42.5% 33.8% 8.0% 20.7%
Miguel Cabrera 42.0% 33.2% 5.6% 18.8%
Freddie Freeman 41.0% 31.8% 9.6% 15.9%
Brandon Crawford 40.7% 28.5% 11.8% 21.3%
B.J. Upton 40.7% 28.1% 10.0% 30.7%
Yonder Alonso 40.6% 29.8% 5.3% 11.3%
Bryce Harper 40.2% 34.6% 8.8% 23.1%
Jhonny Peralta 39.6% 29.7% 10.7% 18.1%
Yasiel Puig 38.3% 30.1% 10.1% 20.8%
Marcell Ozuna 38.3% 32.7% 6.0% 22.8%
Chris Iannetta 38.0% 16.8% 17.4% 18.5%
Chris Davis 37.8% 30.5% 13.3% 27.6%
Yadier Molina 37.3% 33.1% 3.5% 12.7%
Domonic Brown 37.0% 35.0% 7.8% 17.0%
Mark Trumbo 36.8% 29.4% 5.7% 25.3%
Tyler Flowers 36.4% 33.5% 6.8% 32.5%
Brayan Pena 36.1% 30.5% 5.4% 13.5%
Travis d’Arnaud 35.8% 24.0% 9.5% 17.1%
Chris Carter 35.6% 29.8% 10.6% 32.6%
Dan Uggla 35.4% 23.8% 5.3% 27.4%
Eric Chavez 35.2% 29.9% 11.1% 25.9%
George Springer 35.0% 30.9% 6.0% 37.0%

Brandon Belt is now swinging at 44% of the first pitches he sees, and that’s up 7% from last year. Despite his reach rate, he’s a disciplined hitter that usually gets walks. Perhaps his new approach isn’t actually serving him that well, as his walk rate is down almost half this year. I’ve got six weeks to talk to him as he recovers from a broken thumb, and hope to. On the other hand, Matt Holliday is also up about the same amount, but he hasn’t seen any erosion in his walk rate or explosion in his strikeout rate.

Yonder Alonso is 6% more aggressive than he was last year and it hasn’t helped him. He could perhaps watch a few pitches, he doesn’t reach that much or strike out that much, and his walk rate needs a little help. Travis d’Arnaud looks like he could swing less often at the first pitch, too. He has a good sense of the zone and he’s still swinging a lot more than the 27% league average.

Let’s look at guys that could perhaps swing more at the first pitch. The type would be a guy that doesn’t have a great sense of the zone and is likely to find himself in an 0-1 count if they keep taking pitches.

Player FPSwing% Reach% BB% K%
Shane Victorino 9.5% 37.2% 6.3% 20.6%
Mike Aviles 14.8% 36.0% 4.6% 12.6%
Gaby Sanchez 17.4% 34.4% 7.2% 23.2%
Victor Martinez 17.9% 34.0% 8.7% 4.3%
Jonathan Lucroy 11.5% 31.4% 9.4% 10.9%
Dee Gordon 14.9% 31.4% 4.5% 15.6%
David Murphy 16.5% 31.3% 11.8% 11.8%
Sam Fuld 12.4% 30.5% 6.7% 19.1%
Mark Ellis 15.9% 30.1% 7.8% 21.9%
J.J. Hardy 5.4% 30.0% 3.6% 14.4%
Ben Revere 9.7% 29.6% 2.2% 11.9%
Lucas Duda 17.4% 29.6% 10.0% 26.4%
Aaron Hill 16.9% 29.5% 7.2% 19.3%
Yangervis Solarte 17.3% 28.2% 11.8% 11.8%
Ian Kinsler 17.1% 28.0% 4.0% 7.3%
Will Middlebrooks 17.9% 27.9% 10.3% 25.0%
Ryan Sweeney 11.3% 27.8% 6.5% 17.7%
Chase Utley 12.0% 27.0% 6.7% 12.1%
Alex Rios 10.8% 26.2% 6.3% 15.8%
Michael Choice 15.9% 26.1% 14.8% 18.2%

Shane Victorino has never swung at the first pitch much, but it’s down even further from the 12% he averaged last year. And yet he’s not a guy that walks a ton — his career walk rate is below-average — and now his strikeout rate is a career-worst. Maybe he needs to switch it up a bit.

The announcers were talking about Dee Gordon‘s improvement on two-strike counts this weekend, but he’s up to batting .219 with two strikes and that’s about the best you can expect. Maybe he could swing at more first pitches to avoid two-strike counts later on. Gordon and Ben Revere are among the league leaders in zone percentage, meaning that pitchers aren’t afraid of them (for good reason). If pitchers are throwing it in the zone, don’t listen to coaches telling you that you need to be more patient and take the first pitch. It’ll be a strike, and you’ll be behind the eight ball.

Near the bottom of this list you’ll see Alex Rios. I talked to the player about this change in approach — he’s swung at fewer first pitches and fewer pitches in general since his career-worst year in 2011 — and he shows why it’s very hard to use these numbers in analysis. Yes, taking more pitches has led to more walks and perhaps more power for Rios. But it’s also led to more strikeouts, and it looks like, more 0-1 counts.

But if Pablo Sandoval can change — and then change back again — we can all change. If one of your struggling players shows up on one of these lists, watch his approach on the first pitch to see if he could use more aggression or passivity.

Here’s the full data from above, plus a column with change in first-swing approach from 2013 to 2014.

Player FPSwing% Reach% BB% K% 14FPS-13FPS
Ryan Ludwick 32.8% 31.3% 9.4% 20.5% -17.2%
Robbie Grossman 10.9% 18.9% 12.7% 30.9% -16.7%
Carlos Ruiz 12.2% 21.8% 14.6% 13.0% -16.3%
Derek Dietrich 16.1% 23.5% 9.2% 23.0% -14.9%
Devin Mesoraco 22.6% 29.6% 7.5% 18.9% -14.8%
Dioner Navarro 14.0% 25.9% 5.0% 7.5% -14.7%
Juan Francisco 21.7% 27.3% 12.0% 34.9% -14.3%
Marcus Semien 10.3% 24.0% 8.4% 29.2% -13.6%
Jordan Pacheco 12.9% 22.8% 6.5% 17.7% -13.4%
Scooter Gennett 21.3% 36.8% 4.7% 14.1% -13.1%
Evan Gattis 31.2% 40.1% 3.7% 23.9% -11.7%
Xander Bogaerts 18.4% 23.0% 12.5% 25.0% -11.6%
Mike Aviles 14.8% 36.0% 4.6% 12.6% -10.6%
Kevin Frandsen 22.7% 37.0% 6.1% 15.2% -10.6%
Yasmani Grandal 23.2% 22.3% 12.1% 24.2% -10.4%
Steve Lombardozzi 24.7% 32.6% 0.0% 17.8% -9.9%
Adam Lind 3.7% 18.9% 17.9% 17.9% -9.6%
Joaquin Arias 26.3% 41.6% 5.1% 11.9% -9.4%
Pablo Sandoval 33.1% 42.2% 8.3% 20.0% -9.3%
Kurt Suzuki 5.0% 20.6% 10.9% 6.7% -9.0%
Chris Colabello 22.0% 26.6% 6.0% 30.0% -8.9%
Prince Fielder 21.8% 28.6% 14.1% 13.5% -8.8%
Drew Stubbs 16.9% 20.0% 7.2% 25.3% -8.7%
Will Middlebrooks 17.9% 27.9% 10.3% 25.0% -8.5%
David Wright 24.7% 23.7% 6.0% 22.3% -8.5%
David Murphy 16.5% 31.3% 11.8% 11.8% -8.2%
Emilio Bonifacio 24.3% 29.5% 6.9% 20.0% -7.7%
Delmon Young 33.9% 39.6% 3.4% 22.0% -7.7%
Ike Davis 27.5% 18.6% 15.5% 17.5% -7.5%
Yadier Molina 37.3% 33.1% 3.5% 12.7% -7.5%
Scott Van Slyke 22.2% 22.1% 16.7% 27.8% -7.4%
Ben Revere 9.7% 29.6% 2.2% 11.9% -7.3%
Drew Butera 32.7% 22.1% 7.8% 29.4% -7.3%
Mike Moustakas 22.3% 29.2% 8.3% 18.2% -7.2%
Dee Gordon 14.9% 31.4% 4.5% 15.6% -7.2%
Alexi Amarista 18.6% 36.7% 10.4% 19.8% -7.1%
David Freese 24.5% 28.3% 6.4% 28.7% -7.1%
Anthony Rizzo 26.1% 24.2% 15.3% 15.9% -6.9%
Ryan Hanigan 20.4% 20.0% 10.2% 20.4% -6.9%
Andrew Romine 30.6% 26.0% 11.3% 22.5% -6.8%
Denard Span 17.8% 25.8% 6.7% 11.1% -6.7%
Jose Lobaton 32.9% 28.7% 8.4% 22.9% -6.7%
Kelly Johnson 19.5% 24.6% 8.0% 23.0% -6.6%
Jimmy Rollins 13.6% 20.8% 12.9% 16.3% -6.3%
Justin Smoak 19.6% 31.4% 7.4% 23.0% -6.3%
Nick Swisher 17.4% 24.3% 13.0% 21.7% -6.1%
Freddie Freeman 41.0% 31.8% 9.6% 15.9% -6.1%
Yan Gomes 21.2% 32.0% 5.1% 24.6% -6.1%
Andrew McCutchen 28.4% 23.6% 17.2% 16.6% -6.0%
Chase Headley 25.9% 25.4% 9.4% 24.7% -5.9%
Victor Martinez 17.9% 34.0% 8.7% 4.3% -5.8%
Everth Cabrera 22.7% 29.4% 3.7% 23.9% -5.7%
Sam Fuld 12.4% 30.5% 6.7% 19.1% -5.6%
Tony Sanchez 28.1% 33.7% 1.8% 35.1% -5.3%
Gerardo Parra 24.1% 30.3% 5.2% 14.4% -5.2%
Dayan Viciedo 24.8% 33.0% 8.5% 21.1% -5.1%
Howie Kendrick 22.8% 32.0% 9.8% 16.5% -5.1%
Jay Bruce 28.7% 25.2% 17.6% 25.6% -5.1%
Russell Martin 24.7% 29.1% 11.0% 17.8% -5.0%
Lyle Overbay 30.8% 22.7% 10.4% 16.9% -5.0%
Logan Forsythe 9.5% 23.3% 5.4% 17.6% -5.0%
Jonny Gomes 18.1% 24.8% 11.7% 27.7% -5.0%
Mike Napoli 16.6% 21.1% 17.1% 25.0% -5.0%
Yasiel Puig 38.3% 30.1% 10.1% 20.8% -5.0%
Nate McLouth 14.3% 24.6% 15.6% 20.3% -4.9%
Aaron Hill 16.9% 29.5% 7.2% 19.3% -4.9%
Jose Altuve 32.0% 30.9% 8.1% 7.6% -4.8%
Tyler Flowers 36.4% 33.5% 6.8% 32.5% -4.8%
Austin Jackson 12.0% 17.0% 11.4% 14.4% -4.7%
Moises Sierra 33.3% 33.9% 1.8% 24.6% -4.7%
Gordon Beckham 21.9% 28.1% 4.2% 12.5% -4.7%
J.J. Hardy 5.4% 30.0% 3.6% 14.4% -4.5%
Allen Craig 17.8% 25.4% 6.6% 19.1% -4.5%
Adrian Beltre 20.0% 35.6% 10.0% 19.0% -4.5%
Chris Young 12.0% 24.1% 6.0% 21.7% -4.4%
Todd Frazier 32.2% 29.6% 8.3% 17.4% -4.4%
Chris Owings 22.3% 36.0% 6.6% 19.0% -4.4%
Matt Kemp 20.3% 30.8% 9.4% 28.9% -4.3%
Hunter Pence 27.5% 31.5% 10.7% 13.7% -4.3%
Martin Prado 5.5% 25.7% 4.9% 16.0% -4.3%
L.J. Hoes 21.7% 24.8% 10.0% 21.7% -4.3%
Logan Schafer 28.3% 31.5% 5.8% 21.2% -4.2%
Curtis Granderson 20.1% 28.7% 11.2% 26.6% -4.1%
Darwin Barney 15.2% 24.4% 10.4% 17.9% -4.1%
Chris Denorfia 21.4% 28.4% 5.1% 12.8% -4.0%
Torii Hunter 26.6% 34.9% 3.2% 13.7% -3.9%
Donnie Murphy 22.0% 28.7% 11.0% 25.6% -3.8%
James Loney 21.9% 26.1% 9.2% 9.2% -3.8%
Matt Carpenter 8.1% 18.7% 13.9% 20.8% -3.6%
Alberto Callaspo 15.3% 15.2% 12.1% 13.6% -3.6%
Michael Cuddyer 25.0% 33.6% 9.0% 10.4% -3.5%
Ryan Goins 22.7% 33.1% 6.1% 19.7% -3.5%
Pedro Alvarez 29.7% 30.7% 11.9% 20.6% -3.5%
Jacoby Ellsbury 20.9% 23.2% 9.3% 16.7% -3.1%
Brad Miller 36.6% 40.2% 5.3% 26.7% -3.1%
Lonnie Chisenhall 31.0% 41.0% 4.8% 20.5% -3.0%
Salvador Perez 21.3% 39.0% 7.7% 11.3% -3.0%
Brett Gardner 16.3% 19.9% 7.4% 25.2% -2.8%
Travis Snider 22.6% 21.4% 12.0% 21.7% -2.8%
Wil Myers 29.9% 29.2% 8.3% 22.9% -2.8%
Ryan Howard 31.1% 34.2% 8.6% 28.3% -2.7%
Jayson Werth 17.1% 24.5% 10.2% 16.6% -2.7%
Gaby Sanchez 17.4% 34.4% 7.2% 23.2% -2.7%
Alex Rios 10.8% 26.2% 6.3% 15.8% -2.6%
Mark Teixeira 20.4% 25.7% 13.8% 20.2% -2.5%
Jason Kubel 20.2% 23.2% 9.3% 34.1% -2.5%
Jose Bautista 15.7% 22.2% 19.8% 15.7% -2.5%
Shane Victorino 9.5% 37.2% 6.3% 20.6% -2.5%
Daniel Nava 14.9% 25.0% 8.0% 22.7% -2.5%
Juan Lagares 20.0% 35.7% 5.0% 22.8% -2.4%
Tony Campana 23.5% 23.9% 0.0% 17.6% -2.4%
Brian Dozier 8.0% 24.8% 16.0% 19.4% -2.3%
Shin-Soo Choo 22.7% 14.8% 16.9% 21.8% -2.3%
Alcides Escobar 26.4% 34.8% 7.1% 14.3% -2.3%
DJ LeMahieu 32.0% 28.0% 10.0% 16.2% -2.2%
Jonathan Lucroy 11.5% 31.4% 9.4% 10.9% -2.1%
David Ortiz 25.7% 25.3% 13.6% 15.6% -2.0%
Corey Dickerson 30.0% 34.9% 4.9% 21.3% -1.9%
Elvis Andrus 18.7% 22.4% 8.5% 11.6% -1.9%
Kolten Wong 24.0% 26.6% 6.6% 11.8% -1.8%
Ben Zobrist 25.3% 25.3% 13.5% 11.8% -1.8%
Dexter Fowler 33.3% 24.4% 10.9% 20.4% -1.7%
Jason Heyward 21.4% 25.8% 11.3% 20.8% -1.7%
Brandon Phillips 32.0% 41.1% 4.0% 20.7% -1.6%
Robinson Chirinos 28.4% 28.5% 4.9% 24.7% -1.6%
Ryan Braun 33.7% 35.3% 7.2% 18.6% -1.4%
Marc Krauss 15.7% 16.4% 14.8% 27.3% -1.4%
Alfonso Soriano 31.2% 37.0% 3.6% 24.6% -1.4%
Matt Joyce 23.6% 15.1% 14.7% 17.1% -1.3%
Omar Infante 20.0% 22.9% 7.5% 8.2% -1.3%
Alex Avila 33.0% 18.9% 14.3% 33.0% -1.2%
Colby Rasmus 28.6% 33.5% 5.0% 32.9% -1.2%
Eduardo Escobar 20.6% 38.9% 4.4% 19.1% -1.2%
Rajai Davis 29.4% 30.7% 4.6% 17.4% -1.2%
Seth Smith 18.3% 23.4% 12.0% 16.8% -1.2%
Miguel Cabrera 42.0% 33.2% 5.6% 18.8% -1.1%
Desmond Jennings 21.6% 21.5% 11.1% 20.9% -1.0%
Yoenis Cespedes 25.7% 31.4% 11.3% 17.7% -1.0%
Eric Hosmer 25.6% 35.4% 6.1% 13.4% -0.9%
Aaron Hicks 22.2% 18.4% 17.2% 27.3% -0.8%
Michael Saunders 29.5% 20.9% 8.6% 19.4% -0.7%
Nick Markakis 18.2% 27.9% 8.8% 9.4% -0.7%
Carlos Beltran 27.4% 30.9% 6.6% 15.3% -0.6%
Asdrubal Cabrera 34.6% 32.4% 7.8% 16.9% -0.5%
Troy Tulowitzki 27.9% 27.8% 16.8% 12.3% -0.5%
Welington Castillo 22.7% 27.8% 5.0% 28.6% -0.5%
Cody Asche 28.4% 27.0% 12.6% 23.3% -0.4%
Dustin Pedroia 10.1% 21.5% 10.1% 10.7% -0.3%
Chase Utley 12.0% 27.0% 6.7% 12.1% -0.3%
Melky Cabrera 21.8% 32.7% 4.1% 15.9% -0.3%
Brandon Moss 37.4% 37.1% 8.5% 19.0% -0.2%
Ryan Raburn 24.3% 24.5% 6.7% 22.7% -0.2%
Daric Barton 23.8% 21.3% 7.9% 22.2% -0.2%
Daniel Murphy 26.6% 25.7% 7.6% 12.0% -0.1%
Marlon Byrd 39.5% 41.8% 6.1% 28.4% -0.1%
Michael Morse 40.2% 35.9% 6.1% 25.0% 0.0%
Matt Wieters 28.6% 35.2% 5.4% 17.0% 0.0%
Trevor Plouffe 23.4% 21.0% 10.8% 24.7% 0.0%
Bryce Harper 40.2% 34.6% 8.8% 23.1% 0.0%
Jean Segura 24.6% 38.1% 2.2% 14.9% 0.0%
B.J. Upton 40.7% 28.1% 10.0% 30.7% 0.0%
Chris Davis 37.8% 30.5% 13.3% 27.6% 0.1%
Kole Calhoun 23.4% 25.9% 6.3% 18.8% 0.1%
Michael Choice 15.9% 26.1% 14.8% 18.2% 0.1%
Mike Trout 12.8% 25.5% 11.5% 27.9% 0.2%
Chris Iannetta 38.0% 16.8% 17.4% 18.5% 0.3%
Jed Lowrie 29.6% 23.2% 12.4% 10.1% 0.3%
Carlos Santana 17.0% 17.6% 20.0% 19.4% 0.5%
Ichiro Suzuki 24.1% 30.1% 5.2% 17.2% 0.5%
A.J. Pierzynski 40.2% 43.1% 3.6% 17.1% 0.6%
Lucas Duda 17.4% 29.6% 10.0% 26.4% 0.7%
David DeJesus 14.4% 23.8% 11.5% 10.6% 0.8%
Jedd Gyorko 33.6% 29.5% 6.1% 25.9% 0.9%
Paul Goldschmidt 22.7% 24.3% 7.2% 20.0% 1.0%
Jordy Mercer 18.7% 34.6% 3.7% 15.7% 1.0%
Cliff Pennington 28.3% 21.8% 13.2% 17.0% 1.0%
Danny Espinosa 42.4% 36.5% 3.4% 30.3% 1.1%
Chris Heisey 34.2% 29.4% 5.1% 19.0% 1.1%
Ian Desmond 39.4% 36.0% 7.1% 27.1% 1.2%
Adam LaRoche 25.8% 21.2% 15.0% 18.8% 1.2%
Joey Votto 30.9% 18.1% 18.0% 17.4% 1.3%
Robinson Cano 35.7% 37.7% 8.1% 12.5% 1.3%
Carlos Gomez 53.8% 36.4% 8.7% 26.0% 1.3%
Tim Federowicz 28.0% 35.5% 6.0% 22.0% 1.4%
Domonic Brown 37.0% 35.0% 7.8% 17.0% 1.4%
Mark Trumbo 36.8% 29.4% 5.7% 25.3% 1.4%
Ryan Sweeney 11.3% 27.8% 6.5% 17.7% 1.4%
Eric Young 28.8% 29.2% 10.3% 23.8% 1.5%
Dan Uggla 35.4% 23.8% 5.3% 27.4% 1.6%
Luis Valbuena 18.3% 19.1% 17.1% 24.8% 1.6%
Craig Gentry 23.7% 17.1% 9.2% 21.1% 1.7%
Carl Crawford 29.7% 35.8% 3.6% 11.7% 1.7%
Zack Cozart 28.8% 33.3% 3.2% 15.2% 1.7%
Justin Turner 29.4% 26.2% 8.8% 23.5% 1.7%
Hanley Ramirez 42.3% 35.6% 9.6% 16.9% 1.7%
Starling Marte 27.3% 32.6% 6.9% 28.1% 1.8%
Albert Pujols 20.9% 29.3% 8.6% 9.9% 1.8%
Yunel Escobar 31.9% 21.7% 8.3% 12.5% 2.0%
Miguel Montero 34.4% 25.2% 12.1% 10.8% 2.0%
Abraham Almonte 30.1% 19.9% 5.3% 35.4% 2.0%
Josh Donaldson 28.8% 25.4% 10.1% 20.2% 2.1%
Adam Eaton 19.5% 29.6% 9.7% 14.2% 2.2%
Jarrod Dyson 27.3% 13.2% 5.5% 16.4% 2.3%
Adam Jones 41.7% 37.9% 2.7% 21.3% 2.3%
Charlie Blackmon 24.1% 35.9% 4.4% 8.9% 2.3%
Juan Uribe 39.0% 38.7% 4.9% 19.0% 2.4%
Nick Punto 25.7% 21.9% 9.5% 24.3% 2.4%
Andre Ethier 31.6% 31.5% 8.5% 21.2% 2.4%
Chris Johnson 34.8% 42.2% 3.0% 24.4% 2.4%
Nolan Arenado 34.7% 39.0% 4.7% 12.4% 2.4%
Ryan Flaherty 31.7% 34.8% 7.3% 19.5% 2.4%
Khris Davis 31.9% 35.3% 1.4% 28.3% 2.5%
Alexei Ramirez 37.7% 38.1% 4.3% 13.0% 2.5%
Sean Rodriguez 34.5% 27.1% 5.5% 29.1% 2.6%
Neil Walker 30.9% 31.5% 6.8% 11.1% 2.6%
Derek Norris 23.3% 17.6% 13.3% 11.1% 2.8%
Jesus Guzman 33.8% 22.8% 5.4% 29.7% 2.8%
Brian McCann 22.0% 34.4% 4.1% 13.0% 2.9%
Adam Dunn 27.3% 16.6% 17.1% 28.7% 2.9%
Anthony Rendon 20.1% 25.8% 5.0% 17.5% 3.0%
Erick Aybar 33.6% 36.6% 3.4% 8.7% 3.0%
Christian Yelich 23.5% 23.3% 9.3% 22.4% 3.0%
Dustin Ackley 18.8% 21.8% 9.3% 17.8% 3.3%
A.J. Pollock 19.3% 29.7% 7.6% 20.3% 3.4%
David Lough 27.8% 30.3% 4.2% 18.3% 3.4%
Jose Reyes 25.0% 27.5% 9.0% 11.0% 3.4%
Mark Ellis 15.9% 30.1% 7.8% 21.9% 3.4%
Edwin Encarnacion 26.5% 23.0% 10.8% 17.5% 3.4%
Ian Kinsler 17.1% 28.0% 4.0% 7.3% 3.4%
Norichika Aoki 29.1% 23.3% 7.0% 13.3% 3.6%
Jonathan Schoop 30.4% 43.2% 1.8% 28.6% 3.7%
Nate Schierholtz 32.8% 33.9% 6.5% 24.2% 3.7%
Eric Sogard 23.4% 26.2% 10.6% 9.6% 3.8%
John Jaso 20.2% 19.5% 12.8% 24.5% 3.8%
Nelson Cruz 32.9% 34.0% 8.8% 23.8% 3.9%
Marcell Ozuna 38.3% 32.7% 6.0% 22.8% 3.9%
Matt Adams 19.5% 40.3% 2.7% 22.4% 4.1%
Giancarlo Stanton 23.5% 33.2% 13.1% 26.2% 4.3%
Leonys Martin 31.6% 36.3% 5.8% 21.9% 4.3%
Collin Cowgill 24.1% 26.6% 10.8% 24.1% 4.3%
Jonathan Villar 31.3% 27.2% 6.3% 28.9% 4.4%
Coco Crisp 27.2% 23.7% 13.2% 15.8% 4.5%
Andrelton Simmons 32.3% 28.3% 3.9% 7.1% 4.5%
Starlin Castro 25.7% 30.7% 5.9% 13.8% 4.5%
Michael Brantley 22.6% 23.1% 8.4% 9.0% 4.6%
Adeiny Hechavarria 34.2% 36.8% 5.9% 17.1% 4.7%
Will Venable 32.4% 33.7% 7.1% 27.0% 4.8%
Brett Lawrie 33.1% 34.4% 5.5% 17.3% 4.8%
Justin Upton 34.5% 26.3% 10.5% 32.9% 4.8%
Jose Tabata 24.2% 31.5% 3.2% 16.8% 4.9%
Pedro Florimon 28.4% 19.2% 9.5% 24.3% 4.9%
Raul Ibanez 23.3% 32.4% 12.9% 27.6% 4.9%
Kyle Seager 27.3% 24.8% 10.1% 20.1% 4.9%
Angel Pagan 22.5% 29.1% 7.2% 13.2% 5.1%
Jeff Baker 30.0% 23.8% 7.1% 15.7% 5.3%
Jhonny Peralta 39.6% 29.7% 10.7% 18.1% 5.4%
Wilin Rosario 44.2% 40.7% 5.3% 13.7% 5.5%
Billy Butler 24.7% 31.4% 7.5% 20.5% 5.6%
Hank Conger 26.8% 27.6% 5.4% 23.2% 5.6%
Travis d’Arnaud 35.8% 24.0% 9.5% 17.1% 5.8%
Josh Wilson 35.1% 45.3% 2.8% 19.4% 5.9%
Matt Holliday 43.6% 31.3% 12.2% 14.6% 5.9%
Jon Jay 30.1% 33.3% 6.5% 15.1% 6.0%
Adrian Gonzalez 35.0% 36.4% 9.8% 18.9% 6.1%
Jason Castro 31.1% 25.2% 7.5% 32.1% 6.4%
Brandon Belt 43.9% 33.4% 5.8% 27.3% 6.5%
Yonder Alonso 40.6% 29.8% 5.3% 11.3% 6.6%
Garrett Jones 34.3% 31.1% 9.0% 29.7% 7.3%
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 31.5% 29.7% 14.2% 28.3% 7.3%
Cody Ross 29.7% 30.1% 1.6% 28.1% 7.4%
Conor Gillaspie 30.2% 33.3% 9.3% 19.8% 7.6%
Matt Dominguez 29.2% 33.8% 7.6% 18.1% 7.6%
Buster Posey 26.1% 25.8% 13.2% 10.4% 7.6%
Joe Mauer 15.5% 23.9% 14.7% 21.0% 7.7%
Derek Jeter 32.6% 25.1% 7.8% 17.8% 7.9%
Josh Reddick 32.0% 28.5% 7.4% 23.8% 8.1%
Josmil Pinto 17.9% 25.3% 15.5% 21.6% 8.3%
Chris Carter 35.6% 29.8% 10.6% 32.6% 8.3%
Alex Gordon 28.4% 29.0% 7.1% 14.8% 8.7%
Carlos Gonzalez 39.5% 36.6% 6.3% 18.4% 8.7%
Alejandro De Aza 29.5% 31.4% 6.2% 24.0% 8.9%
J.B. Shuck 24.1% 35.4% 2.4% 10.7% 9.3%
Jackie Bradley Jr 28.9% 21.2% 12.5% 28.1% 9.5%
Justin Morneau 46.0% 41.2% 4.0% 12.1% 9.6%
Mark Reynolds 43.0% 28.6% 9.6% 36.0% 9.6%
Mike Zunino 45.0% 43.1% 2.7% 29.7% 9.7%
Alex Presley 26.8% 30.9% 3.1% 15.5% 9.9%
Michael Bourn 31.7% 33.8% 3.7% 26.8% 10.8%
Brandon Crawford 40.7% 28.5% 11.8% 21.3% 10.9%
Mitch Moreland 25.8% 27.8% 5.4% 24.7% 10.9%
Jason Kipnis 23.9% 25.1% 15.0% 14.2% 11.0%
Peter Bourjos 38.7% 35.1% 6.7% 30.7% 11.1%
Eric Chavez 35.2% 29.9% 11.1% 25.9% 11.5%
Brandon Barnes 42.5% 33.8% 8.0% 20.7% 12.3%
Junior Lake 49.0% 38.2% 4.1% 42.9% 12.5%
J.P. Arencibia 47.5% 30.0% 5.1% 22.0% 13.7%
Evan Longoria 32.5% 27.1% 7.3% 20.0% 13.8%
Billy Hamilton 32.4% 26.1% 4.5% 17.3% 14.3%
Nick Castellanos 42.1% 38.2% 3.5% 21.9% 14.3%
Lorenzo Cain 29.4% 29.5% 4.3% 17.4% 14.7%
Ruben Tejada 32.0% 25.0% 15.2% 20.0% 15.3%
Brian Roberts 33.9% 25.3% 10.2% 17.8% 16.3%
Aramis Ramirez 51.5% 38.1% 5.1% 12.5% 17.4%
Brayan Pena 36.1% 30.5% 5.4% 13.5% 17.6%
Hector Sanchez 49.2% 48.3% 3.3% 36.1% 23.5%
Yangervis Solarte 17.3% 28.2% 11.8% 11.8% #N/A
Nyjer Morgan 19.2% 18.4% 13.5% 11.5% #N/A
Grady Sizemore 20.4% 26.7% 9.3% 18.5% #N/A
Tony Gwynn 20.6% 21.4% 12.7% 17.5% #N/A
Mike Olt 21.9% 23.1% 7.4% 33.7% #N/A
Ryan Kalish 25.6% 21.3% 7.3% 20.7% #N/A
Casey McGehee 25.9% 22.4% 10.5% 18.5% #N/A
Ian Stewart 30.1% 34.4% 4.2% 43.1% #N/A
Brandon Hicks 31.0% 25.2% 13.2% 32.5% #N/A
Corey Hart 31.6% 33.1% 6.7% 17.9% #N/A
Stefen Romero 33.8% 36.7% 1.4% 25.7% #N/A
George Springer 35.0% 30.9% 6.0% 37.0% #N/A
Jose Abreu 38.3% 39.3% 5.9% 24.9% #N/A
Kevin Kouzmanoff 43.1% 30.7% 3.9% 13.7% #N/A



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

15 Responses to “Extreme First Pitch Swingers (and Takers)”

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  1. vslyke says:

    Interesting data. What’s up with all the #N/A values in the 14FPS-13FPS column of the last table?

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  2. isavage30 says:

    Mike Aviles only swings at 14% of first pitches, but managed to swing at 44% of all pitches? That is weird.

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  3. Adam says:

    Great idea for an analysis. I’ve had a gut feeling for a long time that hitters do themselves a disservice by taking so much on the first pitch. I don’t understand this bit, though:

    “If you’re a selective hitter, it makes sense to take. You’ll get a lot of 1-0 counts, and you’ll have a great sense of what’s a hittable pitch. If you’re more of an aggressive hitter that reaches often, maybe it makes sense to swing more often at strike one. You’ll avoid more 0-1 counts, and you’ll put some nice pitches into play.”

    If pitchers are throwing a majority of first-pitch strikes, won’t all hitters, regardless or their selectivity/aggression, get a lot more 0-1 counts if they take on the first pitch?

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Yes, but the league F-Strike is 60% and the league zone% is 50%, so perhaps a discerning player should still not swing at the first pitch? Not super stark difference between those two numbers if you know where the zone is.

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  4. John says:

    What the heck is reach%?

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  5. Adam Lind says:

    3.7% FPswing%. Wow Amaze.

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  6. Brian says:

    Speaking of Gomez, in a keeper vacuum, which trade side wins? Gomez and Alex Cobb one one side, or billy hamilton and hosmer on the other?

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  7. Steve says:

    I don’t think you are giving complete information. Perhaps I just don’t understand your terminology correctly, but if a player swings and misses or swings and hits the ball foul, he has failed on that pitch. It is not as bad as hitting it into play and making an out, but it still is not a good result. I want to know what the percentage of getting on base is for all swings on 1st pitches, not just the ones in play. Every swing and miss and every foul ball lowers the success average on the 1st pitch. Until you measure that, you are not getting a true reading of his success rate on 1st pitch swings.

    Additionally, you lose the benefit of wearing the pitcher out by making him throw extra pitches during the course of a game. We’ve all seen the guy after the guy who had a 10 or 12 pitch at bat come up and have success as the pitcher gets worn down in that kind of battle. This is a team game that lasts 9 innings. You hear about the benefit of getting to the bullpen early. Where is that calculated into the value of swinging on the 1st pitch, making outs 2/3s of the time, and letting the starter last longer in the game?

    This simplistic, What is his batting average if he swings at the 1st pitch? approach is one of those other kind of lies. It hides a lot of things under the rug which is covering a lot of dirty little secrets about the team aspect, as opposed to the individual approach. It doesn’t measure how deflating it is to team and fans to watch a 1st pitch hitter repeatedly hit into a double play with a man on 1st and nobody out.

    Stop trying to measure these things in a vacuum, by ignoring the other realities of an out on the 1st pitch, or a swing that doesn’t go into the field of play. If the reality is that about 40 to 50% of pitches are out of the strike zone, then by definition, that is the approximate same percentage of lost 1-0 counts you are giving away by over swinging on the 1st pitch.

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