A Lesson Learned

The following chart shows the location of all the pitches that Phillies hitters made contact with during Game Three against starter Hiroki Kuroda of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

(From the catcher’s perspective)

The only pitch of Kuroda’s that the Phillies bothered to swing at was his fastball. Of Kuroda’s 39 pitches, 31 were fastballs. Of those 31 fastballs, the Phillies swung at 14 of them, and never swung at his slider, which was never thrown for a strike.

The results of the Phillies’ swings:

  • Contact Hit: 6
  • Contact Out: 4
  • Foul: 2
  • Swing-and-miss: 2 (both Raul Ibanez)

You may have heard a broadcaster/analyst refer to a contact-to-damage ratio. It’s really an amorphous term, but generally speaking, a high C:D ratio means that when a swing is taken, stuff happens. Take Adam Dunn, for example. He swings and misses a lot, but when he makes contact, he’s doing a lot more damage than David Eckstein would have.

Likewise, when the Phillies took their selective hacks against Kuroda last night, they were extremely productive: two singles, two doubles, a triple, and a home run led to six runs in an inning and a third.

What set up those productive swings was the Phillies’ patented plate discipline. Consider:

First Inning

  • Jimmy Rollins took three pitches (2 balls, 1 strike) before hitting a fly ball to right field for an out
  • Shane Victorino took a ball before hitting a single to right field
  • Chase Utley took four pitches (3-1) before hitting a single to right field
  • Ryan Howard took three balls and fouled a pitch off before hitting a two-run triple to right field
  • Jayson Werth took three pitches (2-1) before hitting a two-run home run to center field
  • Raul Ibanez took four pitches (3-1) before swinging at the next three and eventually striking out
  • Pedro Feliz took a ball before grounding out to third base

Second Inning

  • Carlos Ruiz took two balls (1-1) before hitting a double to center field
  • Jimmy Rollins took four pitches (3-1) before hitting an RBI double to right field

The Phillies looked at 25 of Kuroda’s 39 pitches (64%). Kuroda only faced ten hitters, so the Phillies managed to see an average of 2.5 pitches per plate appearance before swinging.

That is professional hitting at its finest. They scored six runs in just over an inning against a pitcher who had previously held the team to a collective slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) of .118/.179/.157 during the regular season.

Let that be a lesson to tonight’s starter Randy Wolf. Work ahead of the Phillies and you might stand a chance.

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