Getting to 0-2

Getting to an 0-2 count is highly advantageous to the pitcher, which comes as no surprise. After reaching an 0-2 count, Major League hitters so far in 2010 have batted .172/.203/.254. It is a simple formula: get ahead of hitters and things get easier for you. To that end, it was worth keeping an eye on which pitchers have been most effective at reaching that intermediary step in retiring hitters.

I limited my first look to starting pitchers with at least 100 batters faced on the season. If anyone needed another example of the supernova arrival of Stephen Strasburg then here is one more: Strasburg leads all starters with 29% of his batters faced ending up in an 0-2 count. Among those with a larger sample size comes runner up Cliff Lee at 28.3%. Obviously, Strasburg is a strikeout fiend and Cliff Lee could throw a beach ball through a pinhole so their high placement comes as no shock.

When it comes down to it, I expected a list of pitchers proficient at getting into 0-2 counts would correlate well with a list of pitchers sorted by strikeout to walk ratio. For the most part, that expectation was borne out. There were, however, a few notable exceptions that I found interesting. Among pitchers with stellar ratios, Roy Halladay (74th of 173), James Shields (94), and Zack Greinke (99) were much further down the 0-2 count list than seems fitting for such pitching profiles.

Conversely, Wade Davis (27), Joe Saunders (37), Gio Gonzalez (52), and Clay Buchholz (53) were much higher up on the 0-2 scale than their strikeout and walk rates would have suggested. Joe Saunders might be the least surprising of this group of four given his reputation for going 0-2 on hitters and then inevitably ending up in a full count due to his lack of any out pitch.

What does it all mean? I don’t propose that there is some grand insight here. Rather, I find it to be another perspective, another cross section on the battle between hitter and pitcher in each at bat. The top and bottom ten are produced below.

TOP TEN
Stephen Strasburg
Cliff Lee
Phil Hughes
Josh Johnson
Roy Oswalt
Scott Baker
Clayton Kershaw
Carlos Silva
Hisanori Takahashi
Homer Bailey

BOTTOM TEN
Justin Duchscherer
J.D. Martin
Dana Eveland
Brian Tallet
Mitch Talbot
Brian Bannister
Brian Moehler
Brian Burres
Doug Davis
Carlos Monasterios





Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Souldrummer
12 years ago

Kind of interesting that JD Martin shows up on that bottom list because his rep is that he’s a strike thrower who doesn’t walk people but lacks K stuff. Probably does make sense, though, because he has to nibble. I guess that’s the flip side of this analysis, looking for the nibblers who get to the 2 and 3 ball counts and avoid the walks.