Giving up the Count Advantage

Last night against the Angels, Hector Noesi served up another home run on an 0-2 count. As a fan, having a pitcher of my team give up one of those is up there with one of the more disheartening occurances in an individual baseball game. The count is as lopsided as it can be in favor of the pitcher. To go from that to the single most hitter-friendly outcome is a jarring, unexpected and sometimes crushing whiplash.

And since I watch* Mariner games and almost only Mariner games, I have a disproportionate sense that every 0-2 home run in the history of baseball have been given up by Mariner pitchers**. Perhaps you feel that way about your team too. But personal observation is a crude and misleading way to go about forming beliefs unless you want to look like a big stupidhead the second you run into a person*** with actual data.

* figuratively.
** Mariner hitters do not hit any home runs****, much less any on 0-2 counts*****
*** like me
**** untrue; see data
***** true; they’ve hit zero this season

Hector Noesi does in fact now lead the Majors with three home runs allowed on 0-2 pitches. There are nine pitchers tied at two home runs and 47 others who have allowed it once so far. No pitcher allowed more than three such dingers all of last season. Or the year before that. From the hitting side, Kendrys Morales is the hitting version of Hector Noesi, pacing the league with three 0-2 homers while a gaggle sits behind him at two and then a bigger mass behind at one. There are far many more people with zero 0-2 home runs either hit or allowed (including you!), but that’s far less interesting (like you!).

Let’s move a level up though and look at it on a team-wide scope and in a bit better way than just unadjusted totals. I went back to 2010 and used percentage of home runs that came on 0-2 counts instead so as to at least somewhat normalize for teams playing in homer-friendly parks or having played differing amount of games.

Pitching Team % HRs 0-2
Minnesota Twins 5.9%
San Diego Padres 5.1%
New York Yankees 5.0%
Philadelphia Phillies 4.8%
Atlanta Braves 4.6%
Data: 2010-Present

The best teams at avoiding such homers include the Pirates (1.9%) and the Angels (2.1%), making the Angels by far the team with the biggest spread between hitting and allowing home runs in 0-2 counts as you’ll conclude after seeing the chart below.

Hitting Team % HRs 0-2
Anaheim Angels 7.2%
Miami Marlins 5.8%
Chicago White Sox 5.5%
Kansas City Royals 5.1%
San Francisco Giants 4.8%
Data: 2010-Present

The least effective include the Reds (1.9%) and the Mariners (2.3%).

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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10 years ago

There is nothing more irrational and annoying than a 0-2 homerun. Being an A’s fan, I thought we were the only team that gave them up and yet doesn’t give up home runs. Clearly the name “Seattle Mariners” had left my brain for a spot.