written by Clifford Blau

More runs are scored in the first inning than in any other. The main reason for this,most likely, is that this is the only inning in which the leadoffhitter is sure to be the first man up. But what about the effect of the pitcher?Some pitchers, it seems, take a while to reach peak effectiveness. Yesterday, watching the 7th game of the 1968 World Series on Classic Sports, I heard the announcer say that a team has to get to Bob Gibson early if they hope to score (actually the Tigers got their 4 runs in the second half of the game.) On the other hand, the pitcher should be at his strongest in the first inning, and thus be tougher to hit. A few years ago, I did a small study to see which is more likely. Using play-by-play data for the 1985 American League, I recorded the number of runs scored by each team in the first inning and also in each later inning in which the leadoff hitter in the lineup was the first batter. The results were that the teams averaged .561 runs in the first inning while scoring .590 runs in the later innings previously described. My conclusion from these limited data is that pitching is better in the first inning than in later innings and thus tends to depress scoring. It would be interesting to see if the same effect occurred in other seasons and to consider the implications on lineup selection.

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