up on the rising number of strikeouts throughout baseball. There are a number of interesting quotes in the article:
“It would be a lot harder to take if I didn’t get on base a lot,” Dunn said. “If I went to the plate and swung at the first three pitches every at-bat, I would not strike out at all, but I wouldn’t be helping my team win, either. I’ve tried to be more aggressive early in the count and eliminate strikeouts, but that didn’t go too well, either. I guess you are who you are.”
Magadan agreed. “It doesn’t mean that if you run a count deep and still strike out, you’ve had a good at-bat, but it’s better than a three-pitch strikeout,” he said. “We stress getting a good pitch to hit whether it’s the first pitch of an at-bat or the fifth pitch. If you attain that goal, but the at-bat ends in a strikeout, at least you’ve taxed the pitcher a little, and you’ve given yourself a chance to walk. Over here, we want you to be aggressive on the first pitch. But for a pitcher to get you out, we want him to make three good pitches, not one.”
There are various ways to approach an at-bat. Guys like Dunn and Nick Swisher believe that as an at-bat goes on, they are more likely to get a pitch to drive. If not, they hope to reach base by way of the walk, or at worst, make the pitcher throw plenty of pitches on the way to a strikeout. Conversely, a player like Robinson Cano believes that it his job to get hits, and that the first pitch is often the best one a batter will see. As Magadan notes, both approaches are about getting the best possible pitch to hit. The key for a guy like Cano is not getting yourself out on the first pitch, while the important thing for Swisher is to avoid letting good pitches pass him by just to work the count. Sometimes, the first pitch is the right time to swing, regardless of what the message board fans think. Take a look at the 3 consecutive first pitches that the Yankees turned into three runs last night, when A-Rod, Cano, and Posada all jumped on the first offering they saw from Tim Redding and had positive results. There is a time and place for everything, even swinging at the first pitch.
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