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Andruw Jones sees 36 pitches in 4 plate appearances

Posted by Andy on September 2, 2011

Yeah, those Red Sox-Yankees games take a long time and involve a lot of pitches.

Last night, Andruw Jones received 36 pitches over his 4 plate appearances. That included a 14-pitch walk he worked ahead of Russell Martin's go-ahead 2-run double.

That seems like a pretty high number for 4 PA's...can anybody find a higher total?

This entry was posted on Friday, September 2nd, 2011 at 10:16 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

44 Responses to “Andruw Jones sees 36 pitches in 4 plate appearances”

  1. Jones was never known for his patience. His power was always better than his on base ability. Is Andruw 2.0 a different sort of hitter? Or is this just an isolated occurrence?

  2. Supposedly, Luke Appling fouled twenty-four pitches in one AB vs. Red Ruffing on Sep 19, 1940.

  3. I know that Todd Helton is great at fouling off pitches and generally sees a lot of them, but I don't know of any record he may hold.

  4. Alex Cora hit a HR on the 18th pitch of a plate appearance one time, but he only saw four pitches total in his two other at bats in that game.

  5. Ricky Gutierrez saw 30 pitches in a 3 PAs.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE199806260.shtml

  6. If I had time right now (which I don't) I'd start with Jason Giambi. Geez, doesn't anyone remember Moneyball...

  7. Richard Chester Says:

    @2

    Luke Appling had a reputation for fouling off pitches.

  8. Yuniesky Betancourt can make 4 outs in 4 pitches. He'd make more but he doesn't know how to hit a grounder and so his are all lazy flies to left center.

    OK, so I found an outlet to vent about my favorite shortstop who cannot bunt, cannot get a walk, and play marginal at best shortstop.

    Betancourt has 2.4:1 ration of 1-pitch plate appearances to full count plate appearances in his career. I pulled some random guy who I thought would have a lot of pitches... Adan Dunn has a ratio of 0.45:1 in his career.

  9. @5 I was at that game. He fouled off like 12 pitches in a row in one at-bat.

  10. I had heard that Luke Appling had fouled off over 40 pitches in an at bat one time.

  11. Look at it this way, Yuniesky Betancourt's batting stats would be a really good pitcher's batting against stats. Imagine a starting pitcher with a 0.77 BB/9IP.

  12. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    As much as it pains me to say this, Luis Castillo (whom I don't even know if he is in the majors this year) seemed to foul off pitches at will, and always seemed to have two strikes every atbat.

  13. @2, @7 Old aches and pains. Remember the homer he hit at an
    oldtimers game in 1982 off Warren Spahn? He was 75.

    @1 Since the late 1990's the Yankees have tried to be a patient team
    at bat. This strategy was the best way for the Yankees to beat Pedro.
    Drive him from the game by forcing the starter to throw alot of pitches.

    This strategy still works, and was on display big time last night.

  14. Casey Blake also saw 36 pitches in 4 plate appearances in a game in 2009.

    As best I can tell, the pitch records for various numbers of PA for 2000-2010:
    10 PA: 51 pitches, Derrek Lee, 2003
    9 PA: 52 pitches, Trot Nixon, 2001
    8 PA: 48 pitches, Damian Rolls, 2003
    7 PA, 48 pitches, Andruw Jones (again!), 2007
    6 PA: 47 pitches, Joe Randa, 2003
    5 PA: 43 pitches, D'Angelo Jimenez, 2001
    4 PA: 36 pitches, Casey Blake, 2009
    3 PA: 26 pitches, Juan Uribe, 2007
    2 PA: 20 pitches, Russ Ortiz, 2001
    1 PA: 16 pitches, Rusty Ryal, 2010

    Special mention should be made of Pedro Feliz and Vladimir Guerrero, each of whom saw only 5 pitches in 5 plate appearances.

  15. Travis I manually approved that comment...normally ain't no way you're getting on with so many hyperlinks.

  16. Also, RuSs OrTiz?!?!?!?!

  17. That makes sense. Could you fix the one for Damian Rolls?

  18. Post the link for the right game and I'll edit it in there for you.

  19. Done.

  20. Didn't Alex Cora have an 18 pitch plate appearance in 2004?

  21. #21, see #4 above.

  22. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN200405120.shtml

    Alex Cora hit a 2 run home run on the 18th pitch of his at-bat, interestingly the at-bat only went to 2 balls.

  23. SS and 3b are weak spots for the Brewers.

  24. @14 Weird that Casey Blake saw that many pitches but didn't walk and only went 1-4.

  25. Even though he doesn't qualify, I'd like to make a special mention for Eric Cyr who saw 9 pitches in the only PA of his career.

    Cr# Yr# Gm# Date Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Pit(cnt) RBI WPA RE24 LI Play Description
    1 1 1 2002-07-02 SDP @STL Mike Timlin down 6-5 SO t6 --- 1 9 (2-2) 0 -0.03 -0.16 1.03 Strikeout Swinging
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 9/2/2011.
  26. Pitches seen is not always correlated to batting eye or patience. A batter can see, at max, 4 balls per plate appearance. By definition, any pitches seen beyond that must have been strikes. Any pitches seen beyond 6 MUST be foul balls (6 is either 4 balls and 2 strikes, 3 balls and 3 strikes, both of which end the plate appearance). So someone with a 12 pitch plate appearance might have swung at all 12 pitches, fouling them all off. Moreover, all of these might have been out of the strike zone. So, while a high P/PA over a large sample size is likely indicative of a good batting eye or good patience (or both), it is not necessarily the case in a small sample size. It is hard to draw the conclusion, as the first poster posited, that Jones 2.0 is a more patient hitter than the younger Jones.

  27. It's also true, though, that batters sometimes intentionally hit foul balls because they fear the pitch would be a called strike but also don't find it a pitch they can drive. Swinging doesn't necessarily mean they've determined it's a hittable pitch.

  28. Frank Thomas made a career out of it....

    Without looking I'd guess Boggs & Rickey had some games where they saw a lot of pitches

  29. I automatically thought of Opening Day 2008 when Gary Sheffield walked 4 times in that game. However, he "only" saw 31 pitches in his 5 plate appearances that day. Interestingly enough, he didn't put a single ball in play that day (the other PA was a strikeout).

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET200803310.shtml

  30. Also, I found this game on June 28, 1996 when Sheffield walked in all 4 of his plate appearances in just 16 pitches. Just two of the walks were intentional. He did not see a single strike?!

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO199606280.shtml

  31. joekiddluischama Says:

    @1

    Andruw Jones always proved capable of being very patient and disciplined. Even as a twenty-year old rookie in 1997 (a season that he actually began at age nineteen), he posted an on-base percentage (.329) that was 98 points higher than his batting average (.231). Then there was his famous walk-off walk to win the National League pennant against the Mets’ Kenny Rogers in the eleventh inning of Game Six of the 1999 National League Championship Series. Andruw was still just twenty-two at the time and yet that season, he posted a .365 OBP on merely a .275 BA. His career postseason on-base percentage is surprisingly high: .365 on a .273 BA over a large sample (75 games, 278 plate appearances), including a .500 or higher OBP in six different playoff series and an OBP of .381 or better in nine different playoff series.

    In other words, Andruw has historically proved extremely disciplined and patient when he puts his mind to it or enters a certain mental mode. Therefore, rather than witnessing an essential transformation right now, we're probably just seeing a return to one of those periodic periods that have existed throughout his career. Andruw's problem has been that, in contrast to his erstwhile longtime teammate, Chipper Jones, he has not maintained this approach consistently over long periods, especially in the regular season. Instead, he has too often reverted to indulgent habits of constantly taking big swings, being too pull-happy, and chasing down-and-away sliders. But again, over the course of his long career, he has been capable of excellent plate discipline when choosing to turn that matter into a primary objective.

  32. joekiddluischama Says:

    @31

    ... nice find, and you won't be surprised if you recognize the pitcher throwing to Sheffield and how he worked. Tom Glavine would often take the opposition's best hitter and prevent the possibility of that slugger wreaking damage by walking him and pursuing the weaker hitters instead. He wasn't obsessed with WHIP and SO:BB ratio; rather, like an artist adjusting his approach based on the material, he would accept an additional base runner in a certain spot because he knew that he could better prevent a run from scoring by attacking the subsequent hitter instead.

    Sure enough, the right-handed Gary Sheffield slugged .629 (with a .290 batting average) versus the left-handed Glavine in 83 career plate appearances. Glavine would thus have frequently been better served by simply handing Sheffield a base on balls, which is precisely what often occurred.

  33. joekiddluischama Says:

    By the way, once I saw that Florida's opponent in that 1996 game was Atlanta, I knew that the pitcher would be Glavine even before checking.

  34. Andy-

    I thought about that, but that seems to suggest that hitting foul balls is a skill. Can a guy really intentionally hit foul balls? At least in the way you describe? I mean, I know a guy could cheat or deliberately swing late to either pull or push it foul. But I'm skeptical to whether guys can really exhibit that much control over the swing and the ball.

  35. BSK, well I'm not a ballplayer so I can't answer that, but certainly we hear broadcasters refer to this quite a bit. There's certainly no doubt that many 2-strike swings look different, with less of an intent to drive the ball and more of an intent to just foul it off.

  36. Your observation is definitely one I make as well. My belief was more that they were just trying to make contact than deliberately trying to foul it off. Those types of swings are probably more likely to result in a foul ball than a regular swing. I just don't know that a guy can say, "I'm going to swing at this ball and deliberately hit it backwards or sideways," any more than he can say, "I'm going to swing at this ball and hit it in the gap instead of at a fielder."

    I was more curious if you were privy to any information, stats, or studies that actually looked at whether fouling off pitches was a "skill" or not. Not sure how one would study that (outside of in a controlled environment), but it would be interesting.

  37. BSK it's clear that many hitters put a swing on the ball where they are only trying to make contact. It follows that they are not trying to put the ball in play on such a weak swing, but rather are trying to hit it foul. I'm not suggesting that Jones saw 14 pitches in that plate appearance merely because he wished to foul off 10 or whatever it was straight pitches, but I suspect he did intentionally put some weaker swings on balls to hit them to the side and wait for a better pitch. Incidentally, I don't think batters can intentionally hit balls foul backwards--nor would they, for fear of a caught foul tip.

  38. Extremely difficult to hit an intentional foul off mlb pitching unless your natural swing is to slap it the other way, a la Ichiro or Gwynn.

  39. Andy and Jimbo-

    I lean towards Andy here, in the sense that there are types of swings that are probably more likely to result in a foul ball than others. Employing these on a given pitch thus makes it more likely (but not guaranteed) that the ball would be fouled off. These are generally going to be balls pushed the other way or reached at and pulled foul. Popping a ball up, fouling it straight back, or pounding it into the dirt are all probably too hard to do deliberately.

    I think there is also the fact that guys might be swinging a tad later at pitches. With 0 or 1 strike, they might take a close pitch they don't think they can hit well because they'll get another pitch afterward. With 2 strikes, they can't necessarily chance it. So they might take a longer look at a pitch, realize it is too close to take, and take a quick, defensive hack at it, which is probably more likely (but not guaranteed) to be foul. This is usually described as "shortening up".

    I'm thinking more about whether a major league batter can use his regular swing against major league pitching and really do much to guarantee fair or foul. Outside of cheating and swinging early or being a slap hitter and going the other way, I don't think this skill exists. Not that it is particularly desirable unless your sole purpose is to make the pitching throw pitches.

  40. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I do think fouling balls off is a skill, in that we see certain guys do it a lot more than others. As you guys have mentioned, it's taking a defensive swing and just trying to make contact with a ball you can't drive. When I was playing some pick-up fast pitch several years ago, I found myself doing this a little bit. Trying to protect the zone with two strikes, I'd see a pitch that I couldn't hit, or realized too late would be a strike, and I would flick at it and foul it off. Yes, sometimes those balls probably are hit fair, but they usually go foul, as the batter hopes.

  41. I thought the good hitters were trying to foul the "pitcher's" pitches, pitches that they don't think they can hit line drives in the field of play, so they can eventually hit a "mistake" pitch.

    any idea what the highest pitch counts for pinch hitters is? I would think those guys, only getting one PA, wouldn't want to hit the first pitch and so try to work deep in the count. I remember Dave Bergman on the Tigers being good at this later in his career.

    is it true Latin batters have low pitch count averages because as they say, "you can't walk off the island"?

  42. Johnny Twisto Says:

    any idea what the highest pitch counts for pinch hitters is? I would think those guys, only getting one PA, wouldn't want to hit the first pitch and so try to work deep in the count. I remember Dave Bergman on the Tigers being good at this later in his career.

    Interesting. My thought would have been that a pinch hitter, only getting one PA, wouldn't want to fall behind in the count and might be more willing to swing early in the count. Hard thing to study, as even if we had the data for average pitches per PH**, we'd then have to compare it to those same batters' usual averages to be accurate.

    Anyway, at least in 2011, pinch hitters do walk and strike out more frequently than league average, so maybe they do see more pitches.

    **We do have the data, it's just not easily available. I'll bet Foreman Forman could run that query though.

  43. You can intentionally foul off balls. It's usually done by a late swing that has no power, all arms. Basically, swinging without using the legs and lower body. It allows the batter to react later to the pitch but they're never going to drive a ball that they hit like that. That kind of swing is used all the time. You'll see a hitter plant their leg flat, give up on the pitch, and then later than usual pull their hands through. The contact is weak even when you hit the ball flush since there's nothing behind the swing. Usually the arms aren't even locked and the bat will give into the ball. The ball pushes back the bat more than usual which gives you the foul balls despite contact. Great hitters can also use the reaction time advantage from such a poor swing to make sufficient contact to stay alive.