Random Stats: Swinging at the First Pitch

Before hurting himself on a check swing, Matt Carpenter had come to the plate 21 times this month.  He swung at the first pitch only twice: in the third inning of the July 3 game against Milwaukee and Chase Anderson (he fouled off the first pitch and eventually popped out on a 2-2 pitch); and in the ninth inning of the July 5 game against Pittsburgh’s Mark Melancon (he fouled off the first two pitches, took a ball, and then flied out to left).  For the season, Carpenter is taking the first pitch 86.9% of the time.  In the at bats he takes the first pitch, his batting line is .280/.420/.528.  In the 46 plate appearances this season that Matt has swung at it, he has 4 home runs and a line of .410/.419/.821.

Aledmys Diaz has had 65 plate appearances so for this month.  He has taken the first pitch in 52 of them (80%).  He is hitting .385/.529/.744 when he takes that pitch, but is now just 1 for 13 this month (.077) in those at bats when he swings at it.  In his first 190 plate appearances this season (through May 31), Aledmys swung at the first pitch 57 times (30%).  In those at bats, Diaz hit .382 (21 of 55) with 4 doubles and 3 home runs and a .618 slugging percentage.  In his 162 PAs since June 1, Aledmys has offered at the first pitch just 29 times (17.9%).  He is 4 for 27 (.148) with one home run in those at bats.

Over the course of 2015, Randal Grichuk swung at the first pitch thrown him 35% of the time – a moderately aggressive rate (the major league average is about 28%).  In the at bats when he swung at that pitch, Randal hit .314 and slugged .576.  He did OK when he didn’t offer at that first pitch – hitting .254 with a .532 slugging percentage.  As the early part of his season spiraled out of control, Grichuk got more and more aggressive with the first pitch.  He swung at 39.3% of them in April, 42.2% in May and a fairly astonishing 51.3% in June.

Thus far in 39 July plate appearances. Randal has offered at 15 of the first pitches offered him – a still aggressive, but not desperately so 38.5%.  He has 7 hits (including 3 home runs) in those at bats – a .467 average with a 1.067 slugging percentage.  His 24 PAs this month when he took that pitch closely resemble his 2015 performance in those at bats – he’s hitting .261 with a .522 slugging percentage.

Yadier Molina has always been a pretty aggressive hitter.  Last year he swung at 40.9% of the first pitches thrown to him, hitting .278 when he did and .265 when he didn’t.  This season he is swinging at the first pitch with roughly the same frequency (40.1%), but his batting average – so close last year – is dramatically divergent so far this year.  He’s hitting .302 when he does and .227 when he takes the first pitch.

In the 151 plate appearances that Kolten Wong has taken the first pitch this season, he is hitting only .208, but has drawn 20 walks, pushing his on base percentage to .331.  He has swung at the 64 others, walking eventually in only 1 of those plate appearances, but batting .274.

Batters who swing at Jaime Garcia’s first pitch this month have only hit .250 against him (7 for 28), but 5 of the hits are for extra-bases (2 doubles and 3 home runs) for a .643 slugging percentage.

When Carlos Martinez finally takes the mound this afternoon, he will be making his first start of the second half and his third of the month.  He has racked up 18 strikeouts in his first 12 innings this month, but has also allowed 13 hits and has a .289/.373/.400 batting line against him.

Previous to this month, batters only swung at that pitch 29.5% of the time, and with not much difference in results (they hit .210 when they did and .219 when they didn’t).  Over the last two starts, batters are taking 80.4% of the first pitches that he throws.  The 41 who have taken his first pitch have gone on to hit .371 and slug .514.  The ten that have swung at Carlos’ first pitch this month are 0 for 10 with 6 strikeouts.

Eighteen of the twenty-six batters that Seung-hwan Oh has faced this month have taken his first pitch.  A couple of them have walked and one was hit by a pitch.  The rest managed 1 hit in 15 at bats (.067).  For the season, batters who take the Oh’s first pitch go on to hit .128/.221/.183.

This year, an aggressive 31.6% of batters facing Trevor Rosenthal have swung at his first pitch.  Their batting line is a mostly un-productive .217/.250/.304.  But the 106 batters who have taken the initial pitch from Rosenthal and allowed him to get into trouble have fared much better (.346/.500/.469).  This month, 14 batters have taken Trevor’s first pitch and 9 of them have reached (.643).

Through the end of June, 132 batters had swung at Adam Wainwright’s first pitch.  They hit .355 against him.  For the month of July, they are 2 for 15 (.133).

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