(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
I was talking with a coworker the other day, and he said he thought one of the factors behind Ryan Braun’s slow start was that he was falling behind in the count more. Whenever a player is going through a slump, it feels like they’re 0-2 as soon as they step into the batter’s box (I’m probably paraphrasing Bill Schroeder there). It definitely feels like Rickie Weeks has been behind in the count a lot, no?
It might be interesting to look at how often Braun and others are down in the count, as opposed to batting from out front (I’m definitely paraphrasing Jon McGlocklin there). Baseball-Reference helpfully breaks down a player’s plate appearances by Batter Ahead, Even Count, and Pitcher Ahead. We can then calculate the % of plate appearances he is behind in the count. Let’s see if there’s any insight to be gleaned from this information as it relates to the 2013 Brewers starting lineup (as of Wednesday afternoon).
Pitcher Ahead 23.1% / BA .233
That batting average doesn’t seem too shabby at first blush, but how do the rest of the Brewers stack up? Also, Aoki has only struck out four times this year when behind in the count. When people say he puts the ball in play, it’s no joke.
Pitcher Ahead 28.8% / BA .389
Segura’s batting average is 45 points higher when behind the count than when he’s ahead. That’s a dangerous hitter right there.
Pitcher Ahead 28.7% / BA .200
Braun is actually down in the count less than his career average, which is 32.9%. On the other hand, his career batting average when falling behind is .254, so he’s certainly less productive than usual in that situation.
Pitcher Ahead 32.0% / BA .125
Ramirez has barely played in 2013, but for his career he’s behind in the count 31.2% of the time, so that number is consistent so far. His career batting average is .257, so that still has to come around.
Pitcher Ahead 28.6% / BA .135
It probably isn’t a surprise that Weeks does not hit well once he’s behind. At least we know he doesn’t fall behind more than the top of the order.
Pitcher Ahead 35.0% / BA .171
So far, Lucroy is behind in the count the most. His career 36.3% is also relatively high. Does it feel like Lucroy’s behind in the count as much as he is?
Pitcher Ahead 30.3% / BA .343
Gomez is the NL batting leader as I write this. Sure enough, pitchers can’t sleep on Gomez even they get ahead of him. Fun fact: Gomez is a career .198 hitter when behind in the count…which make up 38.2% of his plate appearances. Maybe he’s not hitting as many foul balls?
Pitcher Ahead 36.6% / BA .154
As it turns out, the Brewers homerun leader has spent more time than anyone else behind in the count in 2013. I don’t suppose many fans would find that surprising.
So what does it all mean? Possibly nothing, although I would note my suspicions about Weeks were unfounded. Can’t say the same for Betancourt, but at least he’s making up for it in other areas.