Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 10/30/14
With the final pitch of this past world series in the book, we now have two iconic series-ending takes in recent memory. Miguel Cabrera was frozen by a Sergio Romo fastball when he was perhaps thinking slider, and Carlos Beltran famously flinched at an Adam Wainwright curveball in game seven of the 2006 NLCS. Of course that’s just two data points, connected only tenuously by situation (last out) and outcome (strike three taken), but it is enough to spawn a digression. Even if it would be kind of crazy to find out that batters swing less often as your average game progresses based on this starting point, crazier things have been born of less consequential moments. With the help of sabermagician Jeff Zimmerman, I set out to answer this question. Seems easy enough. How often to batters swing, by inning? Let’s limit it to at-bats against starters, considering the difference between a starter making his way through the lineup again in the sixth inning and a fresh reliever in the same inning. Inning Swing % 1 56.9% 2 55.4% 3 55.4% 4 53.8% 5 53.9% 6 53.3% 7 52.8% 8 53.3% 9 51.0% Um. So we’re done here? This was run late in the season, but the “n” in even the smallest bucket is well over 5000. And there go the swing percentages, declining steadily as the game goes on. Easy enough to see. Except that it’s entirely possible that the pitchers are throwing fewer strikes as the game goes on. Let’s check how often the starters chuck it inside the zone, by inning: Inning zone % 1 76.2% 2 74.9% 3 75.1% 4 74.0% 5 74.1% 6 73.8% 7 73.4% 8 72.9% 9 70.8% Okay so batters are swinging less against starters as the game goes on, but it might only be because they’re seeing fewer strikes. What happens if we add the relievers back in? inning batter swing % reliever zone % 6 54.9% 75.2% 7 54.8% 74.7% 8 54.0% 74.2% 9 54.1% 73.8% Ah-HAH. The declining swing percentage thing goes right out the window. When it comes to late innings against relievers, batters and pitchers both reset their their swing and zone percentages respectively. If there is an interesting string to follow here in the future, it is the slight chance that starters who remain in the game past the fifth inning begin playing some sort of cat-and-mouse game, where they throw the ball in the zone less and the batters leave the bat on their shoulders more. Could there be a general relationship between batters faced, and zone and swing percentages? We’ll keep looking.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ray Lewis: Patriots should have asterisk for cheating

Report: Cavs players believed team lacked depth

Richard Sherman calls out Kraft, Goodell over their friendship

Brandon Jennings to miss 6-9 months with Achilles injury

Report: Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol


Report: Yankees reject A-Rod's request for apology meeting

Jim Harbaugh has landed three recruits in 24 hours

Report: NFL tried to catch Patriots in the act

John Harbaugh: Bill Belichick is best coach of this century

Van Gundy rips Bulls management about Thibs

NFL warns Seahawks about 'obscene gestures'

WATCH: Hassan Whiteside blocks five shots in 7 minutes

Duke unveils 'K' hats after Coach K's 1,000th victory

Irina Shayk dumped Ronaldo over cheating rumors?

Mike Napoli almost retired because of sleep apnea

WATCH: 'Saturday Night Live' takes on Deflategate

Should Tom Izzo be worried about his Spartans?

Five potentially fatal flaws for Seahawks in the Super Bowl

WATCH: Urban, OSU students send message to Mark May

The five best Super Bowl matchups ever

WATCH: Mike Riley gets big welcome at Nebraska game

Leonard Fournette's brother commits to LSU

Bledsoe not happy about other QBs trashing Brady

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Brandon Jennings out 6-9 months

Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol

Report: A-Rod's apology meeting request gets rejected

Harbaugh rapidly landing recruits

WATCH: 'SNL' spoofs Deflategate

NFL tried to catch Pats in act?

Bill Nye: Belichick didn't make sense

Is it time for Tom Izzo to worry?

Jennings suffers horrific injury

Seahawks GM: I love Lynch's act

Lane Kiffin staying with Alabama

Belichick goes 'My Cousin Vinny'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.