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Baseball 3-0 Counts

In baseball, the count is the ratio of balls to strikes against the batter. Depending on what this ratio is, can effect many different aspects of the game. When the count is 0-2, for example, the batter must be very cautious and less selective in what they will swing at because one more strike and they will be out. On the other hand, when the count is 3-0, the power is in the hands of the batter and they can be as selective as they want, at least for a pitch or two, because they are not at risk of striking out. Because of the many different strategies that go into what pitch to throw in certain situations, baseball uses many concepts of game theory.

A 3-0 count brings many concepts of game theory and many different opinions for what both the pitcher and batter should do. Many believe that you should never swing at a 3-0 pitch as you should challenge the pitcher to be able to throw a strike. Others believe that you should be looking to swing as the pitcher is likely going to throw a very attractive and hittable pitch that you may not be seeing again. On the other hand, some believe that the pitcher should focus on throwing a very hittable pitch as the batter is likely not going to swing. Whereas others believe you should throw something that may not be as hittable, such as a curveball or change-up, because the hitter will be looking to swing.

In this article, out of 1,012 opportunities of a 3-0 count in the season of 2014, players swung at 3-0 pitches an average of 8.99% of the time and a median of 5.76% of the time. While some assumptions can be made about this data, game theory is unable to explain 100% of occurrences in any situation. There are many different factors that need to be looked at when deciding what pitch the pitcher should throw such as how likely the batter is going to swing, how skilled the hitter is, how many outs there are in the inning, and how many runners are on base. There are many different scenarios that would change the outcome of the pitch thrown and if the ball is swung at or not. Game theory overall will continue to be a large part of baseball.


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December 2018