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May 03, 2007

Ron Is Right

Much of what I write involves the following process:

1. Read someone’s adamantly stated opinion.
2. Wonder: “Is that true?�
3. Discover: “Nope!�
4. Commence dissent.

So I’m pleased to report that Ron Washington is exactly right. Quotations from Chairman Ron at the Startlegram blog:

Patience is that you have to have enough knowledge of what you’re doing that if you’re going to swing at the first pitch, you can’t be topping it, you can’t be rolling it, you can't be popping it up. You’ve got to turn somebody over. You don't ground a first pitch to the third baseman. You don’t pop a first pitch to the second baseman. You don't chop a first pitch back to the pitcher. If you’re going to swing at a first pitch, you’ve got to center it. If you’re going to make an out, you’ve got to make a loud out. "If you go back and review, we’re making outs on first pitches. If your swing is not there to center the ball, then I don't think you should be swinging at that first pitch.

Texas is putting the ball in play on the first pitch in 10.5% of its plate appearances, exactly the same percentage as the American league. However, the Rangers are batting only .280/.287/.480 in first-pitch results.

“Only?� Isn’t a team-wide .280 average and .480 slugging percentage good?

Not on first pitches. The AL has a line of .323/.331/.527. Last year, Texas batted .349 and slugged .565 on first pitches. Hitters don’t often have full discretion to swing only at “perfect� strikes while letting marginal ones pass by. The first pitch is one such situation, so batting lines are highly inflated on first-pitch results.

Hitting .280 on first pitches is pretty lame.

Posted by Lucas at May 3, 2007 02:38 PM