Every coach is on the edge of their seat to find out what their state is going to do with regards to the change in pitch count rules. It is certainly a game changer and will have many coaches scrambling to create deeper pitching staffs and have people available to throw or eat up innings that might not have been called on in the past.
All coaches measure the game in one way or another. They keep batting averages, earned run averages, WHIP’s, quality at-bat averages, strike percentages, runs batted in, errors, STR1KE ratings, and the list goes on and on. There are countless ways to measure the game. Of course it is up to each coach to decide what is most important to them and their program. Clarity is important and focusing on the priorities can be a challenge in a world where we can easily get information overload. Analysis paralysis can occur with players and coaches.
I would like you to consider the scenario below:
Two players equal in all respects heading into the post-season. Their batting averages are nearly the same, they both have driven in the same amount of runs, defensively they are near the same with range and arm, they both have stole the same amount of bases, etc. They are basically equal in many respects. Flip a coin because either could be in the lineup. Except you forgot to consider the one stat you aren’t measuring…
Pitches per plate appearance.
How simple yet how important is this stat going to become in high school and lower levels of baseball with the new pitch count rules. It becomes a huge strategy to win games now than it ever was before. Post-season especially. A team will not be able to ride out their ace into the 7th or later if the pitch count gets above a certain point.
I have to be honest, although we marked the number of pitches each hitter had seen during their at-bat because it could impact their chance of a QAB it is something as a coach I never focused on or gave much value to. But with the impact of pitch count on the outcome of games you bet it would become a priority and taught to every player in my program. It is simple but it’s effects can be huge. In the above scenario it could be a distinguishing factor in who actually gets the start in the post-season. Say Player A has a PPA (Pitches/Plate Appearance) of 4.67 and Player B has a PPA of 3.4. That is an entire pitch! Before rule changes I probably might not have cared but with the new era of pitch count headed everyone’s way it makes a big difference. I opt for Player A 100 out of 100 times to start the game.
Other things to consider besides just PPA might be a player’s median and mode of during the season as well. Sorry to bring many of you back to high school Algebra but these could certainly be valuable for decision making and also making the point to your players that we value hitters that can go deep in counts, grind out long at-bats, and do it consistently to get starts out due to new rules that everyone will be playing with.