I figure at this point everyone is of the same general opinion when it comes to FTJ swinging on 3-0 and hitting a grand slam, with that opinion being it's awesome and unwritten rules are lame. But Collin McHugh, for my money, provided the best reason why swinging 3-0 is important. Math. Stats. Game theory. It's all so simple, but for some reason (reason being baseball is still 30 years behind) a lot of baseball lifers can't seem to grasp such simple concepts. Collin goes on:
This is what in poker we call "balancing your range". If you play tight, say only open premium hands (aces, kings, AK, etc), you are easily exploited. If you open a much wider range, your opponents have a much harder time putting you on a hand, because you could be playing any 2 cards from any position. And that translates directly to baseball. If a pitcher knows you take X% of first pitches, or won't swing no matter what on 3-0, you are giving yourself a big disadvantage. Staying balanced no matter the count, score included, gives you the best chance to succeed not just in the current at-bat, but all future ABs as well.
Amen, brother. It's simple game theory and this could ultimately be a turning point in baseball where we start seeing more guys swing 3-0 instead of giving the pitcher the benefit of letting a 85 MPH fastball down the pipe go by. It's actually so silly the more you think about that players are somehow supposed to let the best pitch go by with their bat on their shoulder. To bring it back to poker really quick, back in the day, the really old days, check/raising was also frowned upon. But the people who did check/raise started making a lot more money, so that unwritten rule got thrown out reallll quick. I think a couple people got shot in the process, but c'est la vie. Check/raise all you want, and hit moon shots on 3-0 counts. America.