Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/2/14
A number of factors dictate pitch selection. Scouting reports and reads play a role — as do game situations, counts and repertoires. Some pitchers are more predictable than others — often to their detriment — but once the starter has delivered his first pitch in a game, it becomes a chess match. The game’s first pitch isn’t unpredictable. According to Jeff Zimmerman’s research, 95.6% of all first pitches thrown in 2012 and 2013 have been fastballs. Of those pitches, 51.1% have been taken for strike, 35.9% have been taken for a ball and 13.1% have been swung at. Overall, hitters have seen a fastball 63.5% of the time. Of all pitches thrown, 36% have been taken for a ball, 17.9% have been taken for a strike and 46.1% have been swung at. A.J. Pierzynski probably doesn’t know all of those numbers, but having spent over 1,600 big-league games behind the plate, he has a pretty good idea of how the pitch selection chess match works. The Texas Rangers catcher weighed in on the subject earlier this month at Fenway Park. —— Pierzynski on the game’s first pitch: “There are occasions, like with a Derek Jeter, where we’ll throw a slider. We’ll throw fastballs in to certain guys. But other than that, it’s usually always a fastball away. You want to try to get the pitcher into a rhythm, and comfortable. He doesn’t come out thinking, ‘I’m going to throw a slider’ — or something off-speed — unless we talked about it before the game. “In most cases, it’s generally accepted that the hitter is going to take the first pitch. That’s unless it’s maybe a guy like Jeter, or Gerardo Parra from the Diamondbacks; he swings a lot at first pitches. There are a few guys now who have started to swing at the first pitch of a game.” On in-game adjustments: “Before the game, we’ll talk about the first couple of hitters and what we want to do against them. Then we go from there. Before every series we go over every hitter, and every day we sit down with the starter to go through it. You’re always talking about it and you’re always changing — you’re making in-game adjustments. Guys make adjustments at the plate and you have to adjust to what he’s doing — make adjustments off your game plan. You have to try to stay ahead of the curve. “You’re adjusting right away. When Jacoby Ellsbury comes up to hit tonight, we’re going to see what his approach is and we’ll work our way down from there. Each at bat takes shape; it takes a form of its own. That’s what baseball is built on. Situations are ever-changing and there are intangibles. “Sometimes a pitcher comes out of the bullpen and says, ‘Hey, I know we talked about attacking this guy with this pitch, but I don’t have a good feel for it; let’s try something different.’ And you can watch a guy warm up and see he doesn’t have a good feel for something, but you still might try to get him to throw it to find that feel. It changes. Guys like [Yu] Darvish and [Derek] Holland, we talk about it. It’s ‘We’re going to attack a guy like this,’ and then we get into the second inning — or the second time through the order — and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, I don’t feel this pitch, let’s do something different.’ It happens all the time.” On being on the same page: “Early in the game, the pitcher and catcher are usually always on the same page, because you’ve talked about it. But if you’re not, once you get through an inning you sit down on the bench and talk. Or maybe I’ll go out to the mound so we can talk about what he sees and what I see. It’s not an exact science; it’s something that’s hard to quantify. “There are all these different defensive things they try to measure, but how do measure what actually happens in a game with a pitcher and a catcher? Things changes pitch to pitch, inning to inning, game to game, day to day. It’s never the same, so it’s not an easy thing to put your finger on. As a catcher, it’s not easy to always be on the exact same page as your pitcher. When you are, those are the special days.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

FA Cup Final: Arsenal earns record 12th title in 4-0 win over Aston Villa

James Harden wants some help in the backcourt

Lightning reach Stanley Cup Final with Game 7 win

Devon Still: Daughter has complications with transplant

Rivers denies report of problems with CP3 and Jordan

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Orlando Magic hope Skiles can right sinking ship

Falcons waive Shembo over animal cruelty charges

Report: Tom Brady’s suspension appeal hearing set for June 23

Peterson is wrong (sorta): NFL players have great power

Scout: A-Rod 'looks like he doesn't give a (expletive)'

Belichick mum on Deflategate in first remarks since discipline

Who were those guys? A look back at the 1974-75 Warriors

Washington Redskins' DeSean Jackson up to old antics?

Klay Thompson's injury hurts Warriors' chances at NBA Title

Four former first-round picks playing for their NFL careers

NBA Finals: Cavs-Warriors lacks easy comparison and that's great

10 NFL storylines that headlined the past week

Blackhawks-Ducks Game 7 preview: Key players, prediction

Women’s World Cup power rankings: Which teams have the best shot at hoisting the trophy?

NBA Finals: A series 39 years in the making

WATCH: San Diego State player steals home to seal win

St. Thomas pitcher Ben Ancheff takes internet by storm

WATCH: Josh Hamilton hits first two homers of the season

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Lightning reach Stanley Cup Final with Game 7 win

Devon Still's daughter has complications with transplant

$70M Reebok deal is bad for UFC fighters

If the Warriors win the title, the parade will be for Oakland

Peterson is wrong (sorta): NFL players have great power

Dwight Howard suspended for first game of 2015-16 season

Four QBs set to take step back in 2015

Spelling Bee co-champ wears LeBron jersey under shirt

Top 10 stories from 2015 NBA Playoffs

Rangers-Lightning Game 7 preview

The can't-miss Prince Fielder

Chip Kelly: Tebow is a quarterback

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
Help
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.