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Pitch Count

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  • Pitch Count

    While I am aware that pitch count was not kept until relatively recently, it seems that its influence has perhaps been exaggerated. My question is this: From whatever sources might be available, what was likely to be an average pitch count for a starting pitcher in the "old" days - i.e., when starters threw many complete games, when there were no closers or set-up men, when Cadore and Oeschger pitched all 26 innings of the longest game, when starting pitchers were not lifted in the 7th after giving up one run because they had thrown 100 pitches, etc. You get the idea. Okay, then...on average, how many pitches for a "typical" starter (who was probably also the finisher)?
    pb::

  • #2
    Use the formula here:
    http://www.tangotiger.net/pitchCountEstimator.html
    Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball

    Comment


    • #3
      Or you could go to this page: http://www.tangotiger.net/pitchCounts.html

      where Tom has done estimates for Feller, Spahn, Carlton, and others. Note that he has actual data for Koufax.
      Patrick

      "Can't anybody play this here game?" -- Casey Stengel

      Comment


      • #4
        Pitch Count

        While I am aware that pitch count was not kept until relatively recently, it seems that its influence has perhaps been exaggerated. My question is this: From whatever sources might be available, what was likely to be an average pitch count for a starting pitcher in the "old" days - i.e., when starters threw many complete games, when there were no closers or set-up men, when Cadore and Oeschger pitched all 26 innings of the longest game, when starting pitchers were not lifted in the 7th after giving up one run because they had thrown 100 pitches, etc. You get the idea. Okay, then...on average, how many pitches for a "typical" starter (who was probably also the finisher)?
        pb::

        Comment


        • #5
          Read these to start:

          http://baseball-fever.com/showthread...t=pitch+counts

          http://baseball-fever.com/showthread...t=pitch+counts

          http://baseball-fever.com/showthread...t=pitch+counts

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks so much for the excellent references.
            Actually, what I was trying to get at was whether there is some real justification for lifting a starter after about 100 pitches, regardless of how effective he has been up to that point. I don't doubt that the arm is not as "fresh" as it was after 30, 40, etc. pitches, but neither was it in the old days - yet so many of those oldtimers went on to pitch complete games with (to the best of my knowledge) no appreciable falling off in effectiveness during the last few innings. On yesterday's Mets telecast the broadcasters cited statistics stating that in the game as it is played/managed today, only 30% of starters are in the game by the seventh inning. For several seasons now I have been more than a little disturbed by an effective starter being lifted because his pitch count was around 100 - especially when his reliever blows the lead. It was bad enough when a starter came out because he had pitched _____ (fill in your number) innings. But where is it written that today's starters are done, one way or another, after about 100 pitches?

            Once again, many thanks for the valued information.
            pb::

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jaykay View Post
              Thanks so much for the excellent references.
              Actually, what I was trying to get at was whether there is some real justification for lifting a starter after about 100 pitches, regardless of how effective he has been up to that point. I don't doubt that the arm is not as "fresh" as it was after 30, 40, etc. pitches, but neither was it in the old days - yet so many of those oldtimers went on to pitch complete games with (to the best of my knowledge) no appreciable falling off in effectiveness during the last few innings. On yesterday's Mets telecast the broadcasters cited statistics stating that in the game as it is played/managed today, only 30% of starters are in the game by the seventh inning. For several seasons now I have been more than a little disturbed by an effective starter being lifted because his pitch count was around 100 - especially when his reliever blows the lead. It was bad enough when a starter came out because he had pitched _____ (fill in your number) innings. But where is it written that today's starters are done, one way or another, after about 100 pitches?

              Once again, many thanks for the valued information.
              I've been asking these questions for years. Especially when we talk about modern 215 IP/year pitchers like Pedro Martinez juxtaposed with pitchers from earlier eras (which takes place quite a bit here).

              Your best bet would be to post these queries in the stat forum. We have some of the most informed sabermetricians and baseball statisticians on the internet here.

              And a belated welcome to the site!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jaykay View Post
                But where is it written that today's starters are done, one way or another, after about 100 pitches?
                Moreover...

                Pedro has pitched only 187 of his 2645 IP with over 106 pitches thrown. His ERA, though, is 2.60 at that number of pitches....so no depreciation in quality, from what I can see.

                Maddux's career ERA beyond 105 pitches is 2.26 (again, small sample size, though). His ERA from pitches 91-105 is an outstanding 1.93, though.

                Clemens has thrown almost 500 innings beyond 105 pitches since 1987. His ERA is 1.83. His career ERA is 3.10.

                I've never understood (and always loathed) the obsession with 100 pitches which has spurned a generation of 6 inning starters. And I don't see that using 4 pitchers a game is anywhere remotely close to necessary. Or that it leads to more winning, either, for that matter.

                And I'd love to see information one way or the other on this matter.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Can a moderator please move this thread to the stat forum? With people like Sean Forman (and other stat gurus) over there, I would think the content and queries raised by the thread starter would be more appropriate and likely to spurn interesting discussion.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                    Moreover...

                    Pedro has pitched only 187 of his 2645 IP with over 106 pitches thrown. His ERA, though, is 2.60 at that number of pitches....so no depreciation in quality, from what I can see.

                    Maddux's career ERA beyond 105 pitches is 2.26 (again, small sample size, though). His ERA from pitches 91-105 is an outstanding 1.93, though.

                    Clemens has thrown almost 500 innings beyond 105 pitches since 1987. His ERA is 1.83. His career ERA is 3.10.

                    I've never understood (and always loathed) the obsession with 100 pitches which has spurned a generation of 6 inning starters. And I don't see that using 4 pitchers a game is anywhere remotely close to necessary. Or that it leads to more winning, either, for that matter.

                    And I'd love to see information one way or the other on this matter.
                    There's also the obvious skew of pitchers not getting to that count unless they are pitching well - especially economical pitchers like Pedro and, especially Maddux.

                    From a simple standpoint, you change pitchers when you reach the point where your bullpen guy is likely to be more effective than the guy on the mound at the time (with some tangential concern for overall, long-term durability issues). I think a lot of these guys get lifted for specific situational match-ups, too.

                    I mean, how many pitches does Pedro Martinez have to throw before Mike Timlin is a better option? I'm thinking, like a couple of thousand...

                    But, maybe in one situational match-up, with a big lefty coming up, maybe you could make the case that Alan Embree is a better choice than Pedro with 90 pitches under his belt. Then we get the knee bone to the shin bone dynamic and as soon as a right comes up, Timlin becomes a better option than Embree.

                    Any sort of long term durability issues notwithstanding (for the moment), I'll take a tired Pedro over some subpar reliever any day.

                    That's why I long raised the question, if the Sox had the Yankees pen throughout the late 90s, would Pedro's fragility become so much of an issue (in its own time)? Having a seven inning pitcher is a lot less of a liability if you are handing 3-1 games over to Stanton, Nelson, Mendoza, Rivera and so forth.
                    THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                    In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In "A Lefty's Legacy," it is stated that Koufax no-hit the Phillies after throwing 104 pitches in warm-ups!
                      THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                      In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                        Can a moderator please move this thread to the stat forum? With people like Sean Forman (and other stat gurus) over there, I would think the content and queries raised by the thread starter would be more appropriate and likely to spurn interesting discussion.

                        Not to make an issue of this, but I did post my thread on the stat forum first (May 7). Only two replies (neither of which precisely addressed the point I raised), so I thought I might do better here.

                        And I did.
                        pb::

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          On interesting thing about pulling the starters and diversity in the bullpen over the last 20+ years is that the % of teams winning (and hence losing) after leading in the late innings has not appreciably changed dating all the way back to the 1940s/50s. In this respect closers and setup men have not changed the game at all - except for the large % of payroll now dedicated to the bullpen.
                          Last edited by Brian McKenna; 05-16-2007, 10:10 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I looked through my Neft & Cohen 1901-1920 pitching staffs. Some leaned toward only using 7 pitchers per season with 340 innings pitched for their #1 and #2 hurlers. Some teams let their aces pitch well over 400 innings. Many starters also filled in as relievers when necessary.

                            The good ones usually went the full 9 innings and some even further in extra innings. There were many people keeping score at the ballparks so discussions about pitch counts or batters faced had to be routine. 200 pitches thrown may not have been uncommon. Back then an over-used pitcher would let his Mgr know when he was ready to pitch again. Other starters would move ahead of him if necessary.

                            bmckenna: The threads are great and thanks!

                            In the old days, the best athletes played baseball and the best of them were often the pitchers. Walter Johnson couldn't understand why more pitchers didn't use his side-wheeling delivery as it was easier on his body. I might be wrong but I think more pitchers back then threw either sidearm or with their arm parallel to the ground.
                            "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                            "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't know if anyone has actual pitch count data for oldtime pitchers (pre-WW2). I know that we can use Tangotiger's formula to make estimates, but I'm not so sure that formula would be accurate for the deadball era or the decade or two after. The game was just so different before Babe Ruth came along, and even after the HR became a large factor the deadball strategies didn't go away. Today there are some pitchers for whom the formula doesn't work particularly well. For example, Greg Maddux always throws fewer pitches than predicted. The decision to challenge hitters or work around the edge of the strike zone rests with the pitcher, and some have a clear preferences. Maddux can throw a strike anytime he desires, and doesn't like to go deep in the count very often. I strongly suspect that most deadball era pitchers were much like Maddux. The longball wasn't much of a threat, so pitchers had little to fear by throwing fat pitches. With pitchers unafraid to put the ball over the plate batters couldn't afford to take lots of pitches. "Working the count", as it exists today, probably was a more difficult strategy back then. Taking the first 2 pitches would likely put the batter behind in the count.

                              Since starters then were expected to pitch the entire game they needed to pace themselves, so they didn't put maximum effort into every pitch. This would allow battters to put the ball in play more often. And when somebody reached base the offense was likely to use a "strategic" play, like the sacrifice or hit & run, both of which tend to put the ball in play early in the count.

                              If you look at the game times from that era it is clear that the game was played much more swiftly. Sub-2:00 games were not uncommon, and a pitcher's duel might result in a game time of 1:30 or less. Even if we assume there was less dawdling it still takes time for the players to take the field or return to the dugout each half-inning. Much of the savings in time probably came from fewer pitches being thrown.

                              So how many pitches were thrown back then? My guess is before 1920 the average per 9 innings was around the 110-120 pitch level. The best pitchers would be lower than that. The estimator gives a higher figure, around 130 pitches. But Maddux in his prime was about 10% under his estimate, and I think deadball strategies kept pitch counts lower.

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