The title really says it all when it comes to what I thought I was seeing and what the truth is. See, since the all-star break I thought Carl Crawford's approach had been improved, way better than his 3.38 pitch per plate appearance number. I wanted to see just how much it had improved, so using the Baseball-Reference game logs I went through his last 39 plate appearances (aka every one since the all-star break ended) and punched in the amount of pitches saw each time. To my delight it seemed as if the one pitch at-bats were matched with at least a six or seven pitch at-bat each time. At the end of my mini dig I gleefully punched in the formula to get the average and was in disbelief when 3.31 popped up.
Just to make sure we have a working stream of conscious together, 3.31 is in no way higher than 3.38 unless we're dealing in negatives, we are, and it is in a numerical sense, but there aren't any negative signs in front of numbers. I decided to re-run the numbers from the Kansas City series, perhaps my short term memory was being overran by a few memorable at-bats in one series. As it turns out Crawford is averaging 4.1 pitches per plate appearance. It's not like the Royals walk a ton of hitters, in fact the Rays have walked four more than Kansas City and both are in the bottom 10 of walks allowed. Maybe they just throw more pitches and get into deep counts while avoiding walks? A few Royals popped up in a query for the most pitches this season, but outside of Gil Meche none were in the top 20, and only two were in the top 30.
It turns out the Royals pitchers average about 16.7 pitches per inning this season, the Rays sit around 16.2 pitches per inning. How much difference can a half pitch per inning really make? Over the course of a season that's 81 pitches, or nearly a full start, I'm unsure how other teams stack up, but apparently the Royals do like to throw more pitches than the Rays, and Carl seems willing to help them in that regard.
Now, if he would just be so kind to the other 28 teams.