What is Being Thrown on 3-0? 3-1?
The above chart shows that pitchers are throwing mostly fastballs in 3-0 counts. The rising success on 3-0 mean that pitchers should start to adjust to hitter tendencies, thus throwing them off. Swing percentages are on the rise, as well as strikeouts, but walks are on the decline. Therefore, what if pitchers threw more breaking balls or off-speed pitches on 3-0?
The above chart shows breaking balls and off-speed pitches thrown by MLB pitchers this season. The most breaking balls/off-speed pitches thrown on 3-0 this year has been 6 by Washington Nationals pitcher A.J. Cole and even though it’s a small sample size, he’s seen success and has not allowed a hit. With the amount of damage being done by hitters on predictable 3-0 fastballs, the possibility of giving up a walk on a 3-0 breaking ball is better than a 3-0 home run.
What about on 3-1?
The table shows the outcomes of breaking balls and off-speed pitches on 3-1 pitches this season. If we filter out everything except for hits, the batting average on these counts against those pitches is .336. Now let’s take a look at fastballs thrown on 3-1 counts and how hitters have fared.
The batting average against fastballs on 3-1 comes out to be .364, 28 points higher than breaking pitches thrown on 3-1. The statistics are showing that pitchers are having more success throwing breaking balls and off-speed pitches when facing 3 ball counts, so why not start doing it more often? The data shows it could work.