Besides being on GameChanger? First-pitch strikes.
We looked at the pitching staffs of top teams in Ohio and Texas for the 2014 season (The Woodlands, Reagan, Flower Mound, Pearland, and Robinson in Texas; Bellefontaine, Defiance, Aurora, Olentangy, and Bloom-Carroll in Ohio). These teams won a combined 80% of their games in 2014, in large part due to their superior pitching. We wondered: what do these teams have in common?
The answer, it turns out, is a lot. Many of their pitching metrics are nearly identical. But top teams in Ohio and Texas both excel at one thing in particular: first-pitch strikes.
First-pitch strikes lead to outs. First-pitch strikes limit walks. And walks often lead to runs.
First-pitch strikes also show an impact on hits. Below is a graph that charts First-Pitch Strike Percentage against WHIP (Walks + Hits per inning pitched). Increasing FPS% from 50% to 60% can save three baserunners over a 7 inning game.
What's one thing your pitchers can focus on this spring season? Make sure the first pitch is strike one.