First Pitch Swingers

I figure this subject is worthy of a new thread, I thought it might get buried in the comments section of a previous post.

Nomar is a notorious first-pitch swinger. He gets reamed in Boston by lots of people for it (Waldomeboy and, occasionally, me). But here are some funny numbers:

Nomar, Average at 0-0: .340
Nomar, Average at 1-0: .348
Nomar, Average at 0-1: .297

How does Nomar decide if he’s going to swing? There has to be some sort of amazing analysis which shows a trail of events – swings at first pitches leading to hits, swings at first pitches leading to foul balls, swings at first pitches leading to outs, then the next tier – swings at second pitches after swings at first pitches leading to hits, to outs, to 0-2 counts, etc. At first glance, it seems that Nomar ought to keep on swinging at those first pitches, since his aggregate batting average at 0-0 and 0-1 is higher than his aggregate batting average at all counts. Of course, there are certain situations where Nomar absolutely positively should keep the f-%\$#!-ing bat on his shoulder but doesn’t, which has the effect of making most fans he swings at every damned first pitch.

Who else is notorious for this, that is still active? Does anyone have any additions to the list?

• I know that I am in way over my head here. Though you appear to be poing a rather straightforward mathematical question, a resolution in fact requires some complex game theory. Simple addition of these “aggregates” is, I believe, misleading. An examination of the real effects of batting average at various counts was conducted by academic statisticians and experts in game theory from Stanford and recently published in a SABR journal. The results showed that almost all of the “obvious” mathematical assumptions that statisticians were making were flawed. Proceed with caution….

YF February 17, 2004, 5:35 pm
• No, you are right, it’s definitely not a simple aggregation, and that’s what I am looking for, the complex answer – it would be help us understand whether Joe Beergut’s (or Waldome’s) yelling “Why the F**K did Nomaaah swing at that one AGAIN!?” was a reasonable complaint.

SF February 17, 2004, 5:53 pm