The First Hit
I’ve been thinking about no-hitters a lot this season, for several reasons. There have been two no-hitters in the major leagues already this season. And, as you’ll see below, there have been a lot of games in which the Tides’ opponents have held them hitless for a fairly long period. In addition, the Tides have a promotion in which staffers throw nine “softie balls”, each numbered with a numeral from 1 to 9, into the stands. If a fan acquires the ball with the numeral corresponding to the batting-order position of the Tide who gets the first base hit, he or she wins a free something.
There’s a whole set of interesting theoretical and mathematical questions about the odds of a particular batting order position getting the first base hit, but they quickly become enmeshed in a quagmire of untestable assumptions and confusing probabilities. However, it’s equally interesting to look at the actual game results to see who gets that first hit. I’ve scored twelve games this season, and in the table below I’ve stated what batting-order position has gotten the first base hit.
A few observations. First, in four of their twelve games the Tides went hitless in their first turn through the order. Even without going through all the math, that tells me that the Tides, in Harbor Park, are not a high-average team. Second, only once have the Tides’ pitchers only once kept their opponents hitless through the first turn through the order. Third, only once has the #1 hitter for the Tides collected their first hit, and thus the holder of softie ball #1 has won only once. Even a superficial mathematical analyis reveals that the #1 hitter is more likely to get the first hit than any other lineup position.
Twelve games is a small sample, and there can be many reasons for these results. But it is true that the Tides have gone longer without hits than their opponents, and I suspect they’ve gone longer without hits in their games than most other teams. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.