Rafael Soriano’s Big Inning | The Process Report

Rafael Soriano’s Big Inning

By R.J. Anderson //

Rafael Soriano struck out three batters on nine pitches last night. How improbable was that? Let’s look at it from Soriano’s perspective only, so as to keep the gory math away. Over the last three seasons (including 2010), Soriano has struck out 29.1% of the batters he’s faced. If we accept that as a true talent projection, then you’d expect Soriano to have about a 30% chance to strike out any random batter. That means the chances that he strikes three straight out is something like 30%^3 … or 2.7%.

But that’s being too offhanded about Soriano’s accomplishment. He struck out three batters on a combined NINE PITCHES. That’s (obviously) three strikes per batter. Soriano has 36 three-pitch strikeouts over the last three years and 162 strikeouts total. That means about 22% of this strikeouts are of the three-pitch variety and that 6.5% of his plate appearances end in three-pitch strikeouts.

Okay, so here we go again, assuming the plate appearances as independent variables, that means 6.5%^3 gives us the probability of a nine pitch, three strikeout inning occurring. That math results in a number below 0.03%. That figure is without accounting for the distinct possibility that batters very well may change their approach (particularly the third batter in the inning) after noticing the first two going down on six pitches. Maybe the batter will swing early or maybe take completely. I don’t know and given how rare of an occurrence this is, I wouldn’t guess that batters think about it too much anyways.

Soriano has pitched very well all year and even if he is a mercenary, he’s giving us tales with long and winding tails to tickle our memory for years to come.

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