By: Todd Guilliams
Originally Published in: High-Scoring Baseball
Provided by: Human Kinetics
The count plays an important role in determining whether the hitter achieves a quality at-bat. "It is central to the question of situational batting success because the count is the leverage the batter and pitcher wield against one another in the fight for dominance at the plate".
Table 4.1 shows that a batter has almost a 60% chance of achieving a quality at-bat in the first two pitches. Contrast that with what happens when the batter has two strikes on him; he has roughly a 28% chance of getting a quality at-bat excluding a 3-2 count, which many do not consider a true two-strike count. What does all this data mean? One of the important conclusions is the importance of hitting with the count in the batter's favor. Moreover, the 0-0 count, the 0-1 count, and the 1-0 count are virtually the same in terms of the hitter's ability to obtain a QAB. The batter who has an 0-2 count or a 1-2 count really has to battle and shorten his stroke to achieve a quality at-bat because the odds are stacked against him. One of the most interesting things about tracking quality at-bats in comparison to the count is realizing that the batter who finds himself with any three-ball count will achieve a quality at-bat 74% of the time. So if a batter gets two strikes on him but can fight his way to a three-ball count, he is likely to achieve a productive at-bat. On the other side of the coin, pitchers must try to avoid three-ball counts at all costs.
This information can be useful in teaching players the importance of being aggressive early in the count with runners in scoring position. This data show that having a productive plate appearance in an 0-2, 1-2, or 2-2 count is highly unlikely. The data also indicate that with two strikes an average batter has a quality at-bat 37% of the time. A hitter's ability to obtain a productive plate appearance is directly linked to the count.