Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pitching to Contact

Pitching to contact works!
For switch pitcher, Henry Knight, pitching to contact worked well in the 14U Koufax league -- as long as the defense was ready to make the plays. The key strategy for the pitcher was to keep the ball down in the strike zone to induce ground balls or popups and let the fielders make the outs. The movement of two seam fastball worked well, along with a circle change-up -- to keep hitters off balance and induce easy outs.

During the 2012 Dow Memorial Day Tournament, Knight threw 45 pitches over five innings -- to win a ten-inning championship game under the lights. That's an average of nine pitches per inning, thanks to the solid defense by the Columbia City Reds team.

Knight pitched 11 innings in one game, throwing 94 strikes, and averaged 11 pitches per inning by pitching to contact.

In college baseball, the #1 starting pitcher for the UW Huskies team - Aaron West - said that he throws the ball low in the strike zone and pitches to contact. He said "I rely on my fielders to make the outs." He led the dawgs in the number innings pitched and strikeouts, which was a byproduct of pitching to contact.

There are some interesting discussions on the topic of pitching to contact.

Thread: Pitching to Contact - Baseball Fever

There are many out there who believe pitchers should “tend” to pitch to contact. Would knowing the total # of pitches, the number and percentage of those pitches that were ball or strikes, and the number and percentage of the total called be a way to judge contact? 

In the big leagues, there is some debate on the strategy of pitching to contact, as you can read in these articles.

Jordan Zimmerman and Pitching to Contact
by Jame Gentile on July 26, 2012, Beyond the Box Score

Earlier this season, Nationals' starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann sat down with Fangraph's David Laurila and spoke about the deliberate attempts he has made to work deeper into games by 'pitching to contact'.

"Before I had Tommy John, I was striking a lot of guys out. I would throw a lot of pitches. Once I came back from it, I told myself, ‘Let’s pitch to contact and let’s not strike as many guys out.’ That way I can stay in the game longer."

Far too often the concept of a 'pitching to contact' has been used as a euphemism for 'can't strike anyone out', but for Jordan Zimmermann that is likely not the case. Read more

Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Pitching to Contact, Racking Up K's
by Patrick Reddington on July 16, 2012, Federal Baseball

It's hard to imagine Stephen Strasburg, who leads the league with 11.69 K/9 after 18 starts, fully embracing pitching coach Steve McCatty's opinion that, "strikeouts are bull-[expletive deleted]," but when the 23-year-old right-hander spoke to MASN's Kristina Akra after Sunday afternoon's win, he told the reporter he had taken advantage of Marlins Park's spacious outfield to pitch to contact as much as possible. "In this big ballpark," Strasburg explained, "I really just wanted to go out there and pitch to contact and use our good defense." Of the 26 batters he faced, the Nats' right-hander walked one, struck out seven and got six ground balls and 12 fly balls. Read more

Science behind pitching to contact

Statistics show that major league hitters connect on about 80 percent of their swings.
So only a few pitchers have the sort of power stuff to rely on strikeouts. And for pitchers such as Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis -- all of whom have, at best, average fastballs -- the ground-ball out, coupled with a low walk total, is the best thing they have in their favor.

Numbers Game: Pitching to contact is like facing Konerko every at-bat
The Minnesota Twins don't hide it.
In fact, if anything they go out of their way to preach it.
Pitching to contact -- the organization's pitching philosophy for at least the last decade, and a philosophy that trickles down to every level of the minor leagues.
It's a philosophy that has helped earn six division titles since 2002, but it's also a philosophy that relies heavily on external factors such as defense, limiting walks, etc.
Read more

Pitching To Contact: Explaining My Side Of The Debate

April 13, 2012

I would like to preface this post by saying that I do not in any way expect to change anyone’s mind regarding pitching philosophy. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel or anything major here. Many of you will likely finish reading this article with the same feelings as you came into it with — that I’m an idiot. That’s fine, and I respect everyone’s opinions.
Remember this: no two pitching philosophies are the same.
I would, however, like to explain my stance on a Twitter debate that formed over the past week. I think the reason many of us disagree on this topic is perhaps misunderstanding the lingo surrounding the “pitch to contact” theory.
Read more 

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