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Rock, Scissors, Paper; Swisher.

June 13, 2014

Dustin Pedroia turned on a centre-cut Max Scherzer pitch on Saturday night and blasted a laser over the left field wall in Detroit. Scherzer was confused, as Pedey rarely swings at first pitches. The reigning Cy obviously has a great stuff, but this was a D+, because-he’s-not-swinging-anyway, fastball that got ambushed. Boys in the truck hunted up that it was Pedey’s first first-pitch home run in about four years–slightly remarkable, not because Pedey has power but because if he’d hit 40-50 HR over those years total, you’d figure a few of them might be first-pitch jobs. After all, the only pitch your AB is ever guaranteed to see is the first one. Late in the game, against the flame-thrower, it should be “see fast ball, hit fast ball” no matter where a hitter is in the count.

But that’s the thing: Pedey has such a rep for first pitch takes, Scherzer let himself get careless. Dave Cameron at FanGraphs had an interesting, short  piece this week suggesting that taking the first pitch, as strategy, has lost its edge.

That makes sense. It’s kind of like rock-scissors-paper, isn’t it? If you notice that your opponent disproportionately takes “rock”, you adjust. If we want to be snootier about it, we say that the first pitch is a marketplace, and the sellers (pitchers) and potential buyers (batters, who old timers say “offer” at pitches) adjust to each other in finding a market price.

Extra Bags, “I’m Bart Simpson, who the Hell are you?” Edition: Last night Sawx play-by-play man Don Orsillo told the story of the time he first met Nick Swisher. Swisher was ten years old, and Swisher’s dad managed a minor-league affiliate in Binghamton, NY.

Orsillo: Hi! You must be Nick. I’m Don Orsillo.

Swisher: Are you somebody famous?

Orsillo: No, but I do the radio broadcasts for your Dad’s games.

Swisher: Oh. So what? [Turns away.]


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