The FanGraphs Twitter page tweeted out a bingo card for Game One of the ALCS. As I looked through it, I thought it was a terrific idea by Michelle Jay and a fun way to follow the game that night. I was going to play along, but then I had another idea. Some slots were much more likely to happen, such as the “Pitcher v hitter stats are mentioned” slot. I figured I would let somebody else receive a t-shirt and just count up exactly how many times the TBS broadcast team mentioned batter vs. pitcher stats. We all know announcers love doing this, and we all know that it’s pretty useless for predicting the outcome of that particular at-bat. I just thought it would be cool to experiment and see how many times they actually mentioned these stats.
First, I’ll just go over the final numbers for batter vs. pitcher stats. There were 65 batters in this game, and batter vs. pitcher stats were either mentioned by the announcers or shown on a graphic for eight of those batters. There were two separate times where they showed a graphic and then mentioned the stats later in the plate appearance, or vice versa. Four of the eight instances occurred when the Jays were hitting against Corey Kluber, three of the eight came when Andrew Miller was pitching, and the last one came when Marco Estrada was on the mound. It’s interesting that they would mention those stats more often when a reliever is pitching, considering the sample size is sure to be even smaller against relievers, rather than starters.
For fun, I marked each occurrence and tried to quickly type out how the announcer mentioned these stats:
- Top 1, Josh Donaldson vs. Corey Kluber: “He’s got some pretty good numbers, 6 for 16 with a jack, so he sees him well” -Cal Ripken
- Top 1, Russell Martin vs. Corey Kluber: “Martin is only 2 for 10 in his career against Kluber, both home runs…in fact, two of his last seven off Kluber have been home runs” -Ernie Johnson (graphic added later in the plate appearance reading “2 for last 7 off Kluber with 2 HR”
- Top 2, Michael Saunders vs. Corey Kluber: “Saunders steps in, he’s 3 for 8 in his career against Kluber, and he fouls it off” -Ernie Johnson
- Top 6, Michael Saunders vs. Corey Kluber: “Saunders with his two hits, now 5 for 10 off Kluber” -Ron Darling
- Bottom 6, Jason Kipnis vs. Marco Estrada: graphic shown reading “0 for 7 4 K VS ESTRADA”
- Top 7, Melvin Upton Jr. vs. Andrew Miller: “Upton’s got some numbers against Miller, 5 for 12 with three home runs” -Ron Darling (“That is some numbers” -Cal Ripken)
- Top 8, Edwin Encarnacion vs. Andrew Miller: “Encarnacion in his last six at-bats against Miller a couple of home runs and a double” -Ernie Johnson
- Top 8, Jose Bautista vs. Andrew Miller: graphic shown reading “.286 (2 for 7) 1 HR 2 BB VS MILLER” (later in the plate appearance: “One of the two hits that Bautista has off Miller…long ball” -Ron Darling
I’m not trying to knock these announcers by saying that they’re not good at what they do or anything. I would be a terrible announcer. I just think these stats are pretty useless and it was interesting to see how many times they actually mentioned them during a game. Mike Petriello pointed out on Twitter an example of why these numbers aren’t good to look at.
This would be kind of fun to track during the regular season for the really good ones, such as “so and so: 1 for 2 (.500), single career vs. so and so.” Maybe this can be a new metric or something, bpBAAR (batter pitcher Baseball Announcer Above Replacement).