The best pitch in baseball is strike one. This is especially true when facing the Padres, whose hitters self-destruct after a first-pitch strike.
As I mentioned during our bloggers roundtable discussion at last weekend’s SABR meeting, my research into the Padres’ offensive struggles this season has uncovered a few problems. One is the hitters’ extreme groundball tendencies that we examined back in June.
Another is their .175/.212/.270 line after an 0-1 count (all stats are through August 13, 2014). That’s a little worse than Jason Marquis’ career line of .196/.214/.278.
As always, we need context. Every team hits worse after an 0-1 count, but this is more true for some than for others:
|Year||Padres OPS||MLB OPS|
|After 1-0||After 0-1||Dif||After 1-0||After 0-1||Dif|
Over the last five years, big-league hitters have an OPS near 800 after a 1-0 count and an OPS near 600 after an 0-1 count, a difference of roughly 200 OPS. The Padres were within spitting distance of those numbers from 2010 to 2012 before stumbling in 2013 and 2014.
Here’s how the Padres rank among all 30 MLB teams:
|After 1-0||After 0-1|
Positives? Well, the Padres have improved their hitting after a 1-0 count over the last two seasons, climbing from near the bottom to slightly above middle of the pack. Still, that doesn’t ease the sting of turning into Jason Marquis after an 0-1 count this year.
It isn’t just one guy, either; it’s everyone not named Tommy Medica:
|After 1-0||After 0-1||Dif|
Why have Padres hitters been so bad after a first-pitch strike? How do they improve?
I wish I knew. I’ll bet I’m not the only one.