The Jays did a great job wearing out pitchers
Stress, or the amount of energy that is expend to accomplish anything in baseball, is important because of how often baseball is played during the season. During the season, a game is played every 1.12 days. There just isn’t time to recover, outside of starting pitchers. This results in compounding stress. This stress is felt most strongly by bullpens. With bullpens handling about 1/3 of a game, stress on bullpens can have a huge impact on a team’s season.
Teams that can run up pitch counts can force their opposition to dip into their bullpen earlier than they planned. Reaching a bullpen early is a key to winning not just a game but a series. By looking at how many pitches are dealt to a hitter every time one comes up to the plate, gives us insight into which teams stress their opponents the most. The Blue jays are the only team to break the 4 pitches per plate appearance mark, which carries a huge compounding effect over the course of a series and a season. The Angels are on the other end of the spectrum and put a huge amount of stress on their relievers. It is interesting to note that only one playoff team sits in the bottom 1/3 of the league, the Rangers. The League Champions are in the top 1/3, along with 3 other playoff teams.
The reason we do not use at-bats is because we are looking at the totality of the game. An at-bat that ends in a walk would not be counted in this stat, even though it takes an above average amount of pitches to produce a walk. Regardless of the outcome of a plate appearance, there is stress put on the pitcher in the form of pitch count increase.
Looking at how pitches increase the stress put on pitching staffs is an important way to gain a better angle on a team’s ability to survive the grueling length of an MLB season.
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