Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper stepped into the box to face Milwaukee Brewers reliever Hoby Milner in the bottom of the sixth inning last night and took the opportunity to conserve his energy by barely moving during a six-pitch at-bat that culminated in a strikeout. It was a bold strategy that did not work out and may not catch on for other hitters who find themselves in difficult lefty-on-lefty situations.
“After the first couple of pitches, it was apparent he was taking," Milner told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel after the game. "I guess the scouting report he was going with was I was going to throw four balls before three strikes approach. That’s really all I can say. That’s what it looked like. So I just filled it up after that. I just tried to throw fastballs down the middle after that.”
It's entirely possible Harper is playing the long game here and setting up a future at-bat where he makes it appear he's taking every pitch only to ambush a get-me-over fastball. A potentially smart play, considering that he gets paid a modest blogger salary per plate appearance even if he doesn't try.