In-Game Update: Pujols and the Value of a Foul Ball

Just minutes ago, during the Cardinals-Mets game currently unfolding in Queens, Albert Pujols hit a home run off of Jonathon Niese. The home run is notable because (a) it came at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat and (b) SNY’s Gary Cohen noted after the foul ball you see GIF’d and expertly embedded above that good hitters are good at fouling off two-strike pitches.

In fact, Cohen’s words were prescient, as, two pitches later, Pujols did this to the baseball:

You needn’t see the rest of the video to get a sense of where that ball landed, but I’ll tell you anyway: really far from home plate.

Though this one instance is obviously isolated, it serves as an entree for some interesting reading — specifically of a piece that Pizza Cutter (Russell A. Carleton) did for MVN back in the mist-covered days of sabermetrics (i.e. 2008). In it, Carleton looks at what does and does not denote skill in foul-balling.

The basic results? Poorer hitters hit more foul balls in 0- and 1-strike counts; better hitters hit more fouls in 2-strike counts. But there’s plenty more there, too.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
12 years ago

I’ve been asking this question in chats for like two weeks. Thank you for this post.