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Since 2008, the K/9 rate has gone up from 6.8 to 7.7 -- a huge change. But hitters' swing rate (% of pitches swung at) has gone from 45% in 2008 to.... 45% today. No change at all. What has changed is contact rate when hitters do swing, down from 80% to 78%. And strikes/looking are also up a bit, from 15% to 16% of all pitches. You can argue the rising K rate is a function of hitters swinging from their heels more (although this is almost certainly wrong too), but it certainly isn't a function of hitters being more patient.
Could this be an actual effect of testing for amphetamines? Slightly slower bat speed on average? Slightly more tired players on average?
Still, it seems to be true that the big increase in hitters' taking pitches came in the 90s.
We may not like hitters' taking more pitches, but it's very unlikely that this is a mistake on their part.
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