In the Hey Bill section at BJOL, some 'net rat had browsed through the ten-year archives and come up with juicy. Always worked for me. It's a new book if you haven't read it, no?
In 2008 John Dewan had pointed out that MLB hitters do much, MUCH better in the first three pitches of an at-bat than they do on pitches 4-20. Kidding about the twenty. Not kidding about the much. Dewan gives .301/.317/.467 as the average hitter in a short at-bat compared to .223/.352/.348 in a long one. Logically it would seem to be even more true ten years on, when the risk of a strikeout is ever-greater. But somebody can check the stats on it.
The whole reason this resonated with me was an old 1990's Edgar interview that had stuck in the mind's eye. Somebody was marvelling to Edgar about Randy Johnson, and said, "How does anybody ever hit him? How would you hit him?" And Edgar smiled that great relaxed smile of his, and said, "I would just have to try to get him early in the count."
Which. ... huh? ... now that you think about it, if there is a correct way to play against the champions, isn't that the correct way to PLAY? In chess that's axiomatic. Given the same position to play 100 times against 100 great players, play the move you'd be willing to play every time.
Which. Remember the brouhaha between Ichiro and Hargrove during Carlos Silva's big year? Perhaps there is a method to Ichiro's baseball madness? Fascinating to wonder about whether fifty years from now, Ichiro will be given credit for being a couple of generations ahead of his time on everything. Including low BB, low K, and nice EYE ratios.
Looking at the 2016 leaderboards, there are a lot of good hitters who lead the majors for swinging the oftenest ... Adam Jones #1 overall. Rougned Odor, J.D. Martinez, Khris Davis, Jose Abreu, Robinson Cano ... did you know that Manny Machado and Miguel Cabrera are in the top 15 for most swings? Jose Altuve you would have guessed, but he's way down below those other guys.
Eric Wedge got into bitter arguments with Seattle websites about whether too many deep counts can make certain young hitters too passive at the plate. The OBP revolution started exactly when Bill James began counting Rickey Henderson's walks; since then it has been the height of intellectual attainment to insist that good hitters take pitches. But the more you know, the less you know.
Anyway, it's another little game-within-a-game to watch. First couple pitches can be dangerous for the pitcher. Wars of attrition tend to favor the guy holding the ball.