Does the Brewers pitching staff need to hit more opposing batters?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Ron Roenicke

Ron Roenicke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I read a posting by a Facebook friend where he was answering a question others had posed to him about why the Brewers were struggling. He went on to say that he thought the Brewers pitching staff was not pitching inside enough. As a former teammate of mine and a professional pitcher who had a brief stint in the majors, he has, in my mind, credibility in his analysis. It was an interesting post to read.

It got me thinking: Should the Brewers pitchers be pitching inside more to opposing batters? And… did my friend’s theory have any statistical validity?

Because his hypothesis focused on the current team under manager Ron Roenicke, I decided to look at the numbers from Roenicke’s two-plus years as Brewers skipper. Specifically, I looked at how many opposing batters Brewers pitchers had hit since Roenicke took over the team in 2011. The findings were very interesting:

* Since 2011 (and including games this year through June 20), the Brewers rank 30th in the majors (dead last) with the fewest numbers of opposing batters hit by their pitching staff with 79. The closest team to the Brewers are the Angels with 93. At the other end of the scale were the Boston Red Sox whose pitching staff had plunked 177 batters in that same timeframe.

* Since 2011, Brewers batters had been hit 179 times, first in the majors. That’s a difference of 100 when compared to how many batters the Brewers pitching staff had hit. Let that sink in a little… the Brewers batters have been hit 179 times; the pitchers have hit 79 batters.

* The difference of 100 batters (179 Brewers batters hit; 79 batters hit by the Brewers pitching staff) is the largest differential in the majors. The closest team to the Brewers are the Red Sox; their pitchers have hit 177 batters and their batters have been hit by opposing pitchers 120 times, a difference of 57.

* Looking just at 2013, the numbers are again similar. The Brewers pitching staff has hit 15 batters, ranking 28th in the league. Brewers batters have been hit 33 times, ranking third in the league. The difference of 18 is the highest in the majors.

* In looking at the teams that rank in the top three in most batters hit this year by their pitching staff (Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Arizona), those teams have a combined 126-89 record (a .586 winning percentage). The three teams ranking in the bottom three of most batters hit by their pitchers this season (Seattle, San Diego and Milwaukee) have a combined record of 98-120 (a .450 winning percentage).

So what do the numbers tell? Should the Brewers pitching staff be pitching inside more often?

Me, I’m not sure what the pitching staff should do. But my friend’s theory sure has the support of the numbers.

What do you think?

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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