One area that the Red Sox have already shown improvement...patience

Don't worry, this is not another article about whether or not the Red Sox should be patient with Jackie Bradley's service time (the answer to that question is obviously yes).

Listening to Felger and Mazz today I heard them once again complaining about how the length of baseball games, especially Red Sox games, are becoming too long. Apparently yesterday's game lasted three hours and thirty-seven minutes -- which seems to be the average length for a Sox-Yankees game, so I don't know what they were whining about. I then changed the channel to WEEI for some refreshing optimistic Sox talk, and heard an encouraging fact: Red Sox batters saw 191 pitchers yesterday, something they did only five times all last season.

Boston's woes were seen in all parts of the team last year, so it should not be surprising that the Red Sox were not as adept as working counts last year compared to years prior. From 2003 to 2011, Boston hitters saw an average 155 pitches per game; last year they only saw 148 pitches per game. Seven pitches a game does not seem like much, but consider that from 2003-2011 they ranked lower than 2nd in baseball in pitches per game only once (3rd most in 2008); last year they ranked 6th.

Pitches per game is highly correlated with scoring runs, something the Red Sox did not do as well last season as the previous nine seasons. Of course, the more runs scored the more batters that come to the plate, and the more batters that come to the plate the more pitches will be seen in a game. However, plate discipline and patience runs up pitch counts, which leads to higher pitches per game. Part of the reason that the Sox struggled last year in this area was due to the departure of Kevin Youkilis, who consistently ranks at the top of the league in pitches per plate appearance. I'd be merely speculating if I said a different philosophy from Bobby Valentine is another reason, but it is certainly possible.

Taking pitches, working counts, and -- most importantly -- getting on base should be the primary objective of most at bats. The Red Sox seemed to be working under that modus operandi yesterday, which is a good sign for the rest of the season. The Sox walked six times yesterday. Most notably, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew three walks (he only walked 38 times last year in 121 games), Jackie Bradley Jr. drew three walks (including in his first major league plate appearance after starting 0-2), and Will Middlebrooks drew a walk (he walked only 13 times in 75 games last year).

It's only one game, but count me as someone who would love for the Sox to continue to draw up high pitch totals all season and make Felger and Mazz squirm as they have to talk about a team that is actually playing fundamental baseball and not always swinging for the fences.

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