Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fun with numbers: Strikes and balls

54 percent.

Name the Red Sox leader in walks right at this moment. Actually, scratch that. Name the American League's leader in walks right at this moment. It's the same guy.

It's not Kevin Youkilis. It's not J.D. Drew. Those two combined, in fact, have drawn 11 walks so far this season.

Jason Bay, by himself, has drawn 13 walks so far this season.

What's really interesting, though, is the way he's drawn those walks. He's not getting deep in the count all the time, fouling off pitches, grinding out at-bats. Only one of his walks this season, in fact, required more than six pitches -- and the rest of the time, he's not seeing all that many pitches in the strike zone.

Through 11 games this season, Bay has been thrown strikes on 54 percent of the pitches thrown to him -- lowest on the team. The major league average so far is 61 percent. No one in the American League East, in fact, has seen fewer than 54 percent.

Pitchers just have no desire to give the Red Sox left fielder anything to hit.

(In case you're wondering: Manny Ramirez has a National League-leading 14 walks and has seen strikes on 52 percent of his pitches, by far the fewest on his team. But you probably figured that would be the case.)


Bonus Fun With Numbers: 64 percent.

Jacoby Ellsbury insisted this spring that he needs to be less patient at the plate because pitchers don't want to walk him and give him a chance to steal bases. So far, he's been right.

No Red Sox player has seen more than Ellsbury's 64 percent.

And when he's swinging, he's not missing -- he's made contact on 95 percent of the pitches he's swung at. He just hasn't yet straightened it out (30 percent of his strikes are on foul balls) or gotten his hits to fall (he's hitting .244 on balls put in play).

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