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It may shock many people that Jimmy Rollins leads the Phillies in total pitches seen this season at 319. Rollins has earned a bad reputation for hacking early in counts, usually producing in a lazy fly ball.
While Rollins' approach has probably changed due to his spot in the lineup, his approach may actually be too cautious.
But he is not alone.
Baseball players are always told to wait for "their" pitch. At times, the Phillies take this advice to a different level, waiting for a pitch that is a dead-center fastball. A lot of the time, they are still waiting for it as they walk back to the dugout after a strikeout.
The Phillies' lineup is too patient. It looks as if they are too cautious to swing at the first pitch, and when they don't, it usually seems they don't see another great pitch to hit during the rest of the at-bat.
Granted, if a pitcher walks three guys in a row, the general rule is to not even think about swinging at the next first pitch, and it is common to see a lot of guys exit the box as soon as the pitch leaves his hand. This situation is understandable.
But when a lineup goes stagnant, as the Phillies' certainly has at times this season, swinging at the first pitch can produce benefits in terms of rattling a pitcher's confidence if he is cruising along.
A perfect example of this was in the Phillies' 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on April 6.
The Phillies worked the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, trailing 3-1. Then, both Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. struck out on three and four pitches, respectively. Both at-bats began with dead-red fastballs which were both called strikes.
The next batter was Kevin Frandsen. Seeing the trend of the last two batters, Frandsen locked in on a first-pitch 96 miles per hour fastball and won the game with a walk-off bases-clearing double.
Phillies hitters need to understand patience is indeed a virtue in baseball, but they are allowed to swing confidently at good first pitches.