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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Baseball on pace for lowest batting average since 1972

Let the bickering about what this means begin!

The batting average for the major leagues is on track for its lowest finish in nearly a half-century.

This comes despite slightly more robust offense of late — hits topping strikeouts the past two months.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were 7,134 hits and 6,818 strikeouts in August. That left the season totals at 34,350 hits and 34,103 strikeouts, the first time this season hits led at the end of a full month.

QLE Posted: September 04, 2018 at 08:00 AM | 58 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: batting average, strikeouts

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   1. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: September 04, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5738143)
11th year in a row they’ve set a new strikeout record, too. These trends aren’t gonna reverse themselves on their own; without the league stepping in and enforcing rule changes, we’re just gonna keep seeing more and more Ks and fewer and fewer hits.

Now, maybe you’re fine with that. I’m not making an aesthetic case, just the practical one: “doing nothing” here is functionally equivalent to “even more strikeouts and fewer hits.” The ball is just gonna keep rolling down that hill unless someone steps in to stop it.
   2. I Am Not a Number Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5738154)
The trend can't continue indefinitely as there are hard bounds. At some point an equilibrium will be reached. Once reached, will the game stay there? Or will countervailing forces reverse the trend? Will there be new market inefficiencies that get exploited (lower power, singles hitters)?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5738160)
The trend can't continue indefinitely as there are hard bounds.

What's the hard bound limiting K's? 27/9?
   4. Batman Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5738173)
Striking out on uncatchable pitches will be the new market inefficiency.
   5. winnipegwhip Posted: September 04, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5738206)
Let the strike zone change like a lava lamp....or clone Angel Hernandez and get him to work the plate every game.
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 04, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5738229)
It wasn't that long ago that offense was killing the game.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 04, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5738240)
Who cares about batting average anymore? What's baseball's WOBA+?
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 04, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5738255)
Striking out on uncatchable pitches will be the new market inefficiency.

Which will be countered by shaping the wall behind the plate so that all balls hitting it bounce on one hop right back to the catcher.
   9. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 04, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5738263)
It wasn't that long ago that offense was killing the game.

It's still killing the game. It's just doing it in a different way (by reducing the game to the equivalent of watching two 145 MPH serve-and-volley players in tennis - nothing but aces and double faults, no long rallies). Which is fine if you like that sort of thing.
   10. oscar madisox Posted: September 04, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5738277)
Striking out on uncatchable pitches will be the new market inefficiency.

When Gary Sanchez is catching, ALL pitches are uncatchable.


   11. DavidFoss Posted: September 04, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5738281)
What's baseball's WOBA+?

The average team is still 81-81. Not sure how always get that to work out...

In terms of scoring, it is 4.44 R/G. Down a tick from last year, but above the dip from 2010-2015. In the post-DH/pre-"steroids" era (1973-1992), only 1977, 1979 & 1987 rank higher.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/bat.shtml

   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5738284)
In terms of scoring, it is 4.44 R/G. Down a tick from last year, but above the dip from 2010-2015. In the post-DH/pre-"steroids" era (1973-1992), only 1977, 1979 & 1987 rank higher.

I don't think it's the scoring level that people mind, it's the lack of balls in play, and the slow pace.
   13. bfan Posted: September 04, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5738304)
It wasn't that long ago that offense was killing the game.


I really do not remember it that way. People certainly have complained that the Rockies park enhanced offense too much (while somehow staying silent on the way Petco Field pre-fence move suppressed offense too much); I remember the skepticism over the steroid guys, not so much of too much offense as to unfair to those who were not users. More scoring is more back and forth and more comebacks, and, generally, more plays in the field.

Baseball is really going to f*** itself if it lets the non-descript 98 mph, 1 inning or less platoon advantaged relievers become the norm of the game, after the 4th inning.
   14. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 04, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5738328)
I really do not remember it that way.


Recency bias. In 2001-2003, fans and writers were crying that 12-8 games were terrible and the game was destroyed. Continued, to lesser degree, for another 5+ years.

Now they're whining about too many strikeouts and HR. Or shifts. Or CHANGE IS BAD!!!!

Lots of baseball fans hate baseball. Or like to whine a hell of a lot. This site included.



   15. BrianBrianson Posted: September 04, 2018 at 02:34 PM (#5738339)
I hate to say it, but maybe we need to go back to AstroTurfing every other stadium. Restore 1980s-style diversity of styles ;)
   16. JAHV Posted: September 04, 2018 at 02:34 PM (#5738340)
I don't think it's the scoring level that people mind, it's the lack of balls in play, and the slow pace.


This. I'd much rather watch a groundout or popout to short on a 1-1 count than watch a 2-2 strikeout. I'd also rather watch an inning that featured two groundball singles the other way, a fly out, and a double play than an inning that featured two strikeouts, a walk, and a homerun. Three true outcome baseball and a lack of basehits just isn't all that much fun to watch, at least not to the extent it's gotten. But as this discussion goes every time it comes up, what is the solution?

- Change the mound height or distance?
- Change the strike zone? Which way - smaller or bigger?
- Make stadiums bigger? (Likely a non-starter)
- Implement roster restrictions, specifically regarding reliever usage?
- Implement fielder placement rules?
- Change equipment dimensions - glove length, bat handle width, ball composition?

I would love to see baseball do SOMETHING, but the question we need to ask and answer before we ask any of those others is: Are owners really motivated to push for change when they still seem to be making a ton of money? Maybe they see a long-term problem coming down the pike and so they are motivated. But if their wallets are still full, why try to push something through collective bargaining and cause an unnecessary labor fight?
   17. Master of the Horse Posted: September 04, 2018 at 02:37 PM (#5738347)
Isn't MLB maybe seeing the correction by the guys who are excelling? The best by offensive WAR are all guys who manage to not be big strikeout players. Betts, 76 strikeouts. Trout 108 but still more walks than strikeouts. Ramirez, 66 strikeouts. Bregman, 71. Machado, 93. Lindor 95. The only top guy by OWAR is Martinez who strikes out at a pretty high rate with 132. One season is not a trend so maybe this is a fluke but everyone copies success so maybe players will adjust. Or maybe the best players don't strike out because they are awesome relative to the average player.
   18. BDC Posted: September 04, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5738352)
- Implement fielder placement rules?
- Change equipment dimensions


BAbip isn't down, though. The difference between BAbip by LH vs. RH batters has diminished since 2011 (LH BAbip used to be a bit higher, now it's even; one would imagine shifts play a part). But when the ball is in play, guys are still reaching base. IOW, the big payoff is still the home run, and unless you could dramatically increase the value of a single, guys won't play for the single.
   19. Sunday silence Posted: September 04, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5738379)
the 1920s something like 22% of runs were scored on HRs. Then it gradually increased to 30% where it remained for a long time. Last season it was at I think 39% which is bordering on absurd. What were there like 10 HRs in game 7? Whatever Im going from memory...

Whats interesting to me is when you see trends like this and there are of course differing opinions as to whether it keeps going or not. But its interesting when the top two teams meet in any sport that has this thing going. Like in the NBA when that hand checking thing was all the rage. Or the NHL when everyone was holding everyone. Or the NFL when passing started to dominate more and more.

So its interesting when the top teams meet. If its really an out of control thing as opposed to just maybe some teams arent as good, then what you see in the playoffs its more of the same only worse.

I dont know what happened with those trends in other sports, but in MLB the HR's in the playoffs have really increased. I cant rememmber but I did a quick count and i think it was over 40% of the runs were scored on HRs the last 3 years. In my opinion it will only get worse it just seems like one of those things were certain players are able to exploit this hack and keep on doing it.

Definitely suggest: deading the baseball and lowering the mound. Decrease KOs and Hrs at the same time. Both methods are known to work. I dont know why people keep suggesting alternates like heavier or bats or something.

Heavier bats! that's brilliant Bill James I want to see 50 KOs a game. Yee haw.
   20. bfan Posted: September 04, 2018 at 04:30 PM (#5738430)
deading the baseball and lowering the mound


Just asking (kind of)-won't deadening the baseball decrease the speed off the bat, leading to less ground balls getting through the infield. I think that world is less hits and less HRs, with just as much of a premium put upon hitting out of the reach of fielders, because a slower ball off of the bat allows fielders to get to more balls.

And on lowering the mound, why not move the mound back? The difference in pitching over the last few years is not taller pitchers presenting a more difficult plane for the hitter to hit a ball, it is the ball coming faster and faster. Moving the mound back addresses the change in the game which has caused less hitting.
   21. BrianBrianson Posted: September 04, 2018 at 05:09 PM (#5738472)
Deadening the ball makes it harder to hit homeruns, which makes it a worse strategy to go all in on homeruns.

Really, I think bigger fields is probably more sensible - harder to hit HRs, and rewards defence, so you get a double push. But a lot of the current change is in ball manufacturing (as indeed was the "steroid" era largely driven by changes in the ball).
   22. JAHV Posted: September 04, 2018 at 05:32 PM (#5738487)
Really, I think bigger fields is probably more sensible - harder to hit HRs, and rewards defence, so you get a double push. But a lot of the current change is in ball manufacturing (as indeed was the "steroid" era largely driven by changes in the ball).


Bigger fields is probably the one item on my list above that I'm sure won't happen. Making current stadiums bigger will require, in most instances, losing seats. They're not premium seats since we're talking about the outfield, but that's still fewer people paying to get through the door. Maybe that's not a big deal. But you've also got some ballparks where it's simply not possible.

We need to increase contact WHILE making the homerun a less viable strategy. Maybe deaden the ball while moving the mound back a bit?
   23. Bote Man Posted: September 04, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5738503)
Didn't the Mets and Padres move their fences IN a few years back?
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 04, 2018 at 05:53 PM (#5738506)
(as indeed was the "steroid" era largely driven by changes in the ball)
Well, that and all the steroids.
   25. Perry Posted: September 04, 2018 at 06:48 PM (#5738536)
Heavier bats! that's brilliant Bill James I want to see 50 KOs a game. Yee haw.


I'm not sure it's heavier bats he advocates; I thought it was thicker handles. Maybe that amounts to the same thing, I don't know. But hitters would adjust. Make it harder to hit homers and they'd stop swinging for them as much, maybe start choking up on the bat, hitting balls where they're pitched. A league full of Joey Votto-type hitters would be great.
   26. BDC Posted: September 04, 2018 at 06:52 PM (#5738537)
They're not premium seats since we're talking about the outfield, but that's still fewer people paying to get through the door. Maybe that's not a big deal


In our soon-to-be-defunct Ballpark in Arlington, they've steadily reduced the number of outfield seats over the years, and in the initial design they enormously reduced them vs. the old pre-1994 Arlington Stadium. They have compensated with some (air-conditioned!) outfield sports bars, but it truly does not matter how far those venues are from the field; anybody watching the game there is doing so on TV anyway. So they could have moved the fences out while they were at it (at least in terms of seating, maybe not in terms of the fabric of the stadium).
   27. Sunday silence Posted: September 04, 2018 at 09:53 PM (#5738656)

And on lowering the mound, why not move the mound back?


Baseball news year 2020:

March: Proposed new changes in mound approved. Saber metrics hails new era of "no extreme shifts." (since its harder to field bunts no one will shift)

April: Player of the month: Billy Hamilton with slash line of .630/630/630. New fangled strategy of "bunt on every play" adopted by 85% of league. HR leader APujols: 1.

May: Player of the month Ian Kinsler who forsook medical advice shrugged of concussion recieved by line drive May 7 in order to resume his new position playing 30 ft in front of home plate. Good news: MLB batting down from .510 to .480. CF Byron Buxton now leads league in putouts playing 2B/OF role.
   28. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:15 PM (#5738674)
17. The only top guy by OWAR is Martinez who strikes out at a pretty high rate with 132. O

AMUSING NOTE: J D Martinez’s 132 strikeouts is in fact almost exactly league average. (If he struck out at a league average rate he’d have 126 Ks right now.)
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:35 PM (#5738692)
I'm not sure it's heavier bats he advocates; I thought it was thicker handles.

Hot-hitting Mets 2B phenom Jeff McNeil has no bat handle at all
   30. base ball chick Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:46 PM (#5738699)
12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5738284)

I don't think it's the scoring level that people mind, it's the lack of balls in play, and the slow pace.


YES


13. bfan Posted: September 04, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5738304)

Baseball is really going to f*** itself if it lets the non-descript 98 mph, 1 inning or less platoon advantaged relievers become the norm of the game, after the 4th inning.


oh god YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS


i never thought it was possible to make baseball boring, but they are there. time to get rid of cheat sheets, time to set pitch clocks, time to deal with the stupid 10 day DL and the revolving door of relievers.

i always thought it was crazy to screw with the rules - i remember all the talk when barry lamar was being walked 200 times a year - but they gotta do something about the length of the game, the stupid replays on almost every freaking stolen base with the runner being out if he leaves the bag for a billionth of a second

walks, k, HR and no action games are just flat out BORING
   31. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:49 PM (#5738702)
This year I've been watching more baseball than in the past few years--but almost all of it is watching yesterday's games via online DVR. It's really nice when I can just skip to the next pitch with a flick of my mouse wheel and skip all the between-innings and pitching-change ad breaks.

I do the same thing with basketball, which I really enjoy watching except all the damn free throws, which take up probably 25% of a typical broadcast (and the free throws and timeouts severely gum up the last few minutes of a close game, completely sucking the excitement out of it).

I still enjoy watching baseball games in person on the rare occasions my schedule permits it. But hockey's the only sport I can watch live on TV anymore.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2018 at 12:24 AM (#5738751)
We need to increase contact WHILE making the homerun a less viable strategy. Maybe deaden the ball while moving the mound back a bit?


As I've argued before (and Jon Weisman did as well), the one way I'm sure would truly make contact more valuable vs. swinging and missing (the key here) is to reduce the distance between the bases. Couple that with deeper fences and you'd place the greater premium on putting the ball in play that many of us would like to see.
   33. The Duke Posted: September 05, 2018 at 06:02 AM (#5738786)
On a recent broadcast I heard the announcers say that the high speed recordings now versus 10 years ago are primarily an artifact of how much better the speed guns are. Specifically, the Guns now pointed at the hand of the pitcher whereas when they were first introduced, the gun was measuring speed as the ball crossed the plate. The suggestion was that this was driving up speeds by about 5 mph on average

Is this true? It certainly doesn’t seem likely that human anatomy and mechanics have changed so much that people can throw 10% faster now than a few years ago.

   34. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: September 05, 2018 at 07:26 AM (#5738792)
I could be wrong—my eyes could just be deceiving me—but having watched a good bit of old baseball games from the 70s and 80s, I think it’s pretty clear that pitchers then didn’t throw nearly as hard as pitchers today do. Nolan Ryan and young Roger Clemens certainly did, but everyone below that level, even the good pitchers, weren’t throwing the modern equivalent of 93+ MPH with anything like the regularity modern starters do. To say nothing of the endless parade of flamethrowing relievers in modern baseball.
   35. Russ Posted: September 05, 2018 at 07:41 AM (#5738793)
Is this true? It certainly doesn’t seem likely that human anatomy and mechanics have changed so much that people can throw 10% faster now than a few years ago.


We have an average of 5.4 IP/GS in baseball this year. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2018-starter-pitching.shtml

That number was 5.8 IP/GS in baseball in 2008. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2008-starter-pitching.shtml

That number was 6.1 IP/GS in baseball in 1998. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2008-starter-pitching.shtml

So in 20 years, we have seen a decrease in starters of 0.7 IP/GS, or a decrease of 11%.

For relievers, then same kinds of numbers aren't available, but looking at total MLB games with multiple innings pitched in relief, we see that number has decreased from 4517 in 1998 to 3862 in 2008 to 3530 in 2018. That is a decrease of 21% in 20 years.

Pitchers are clearly pitching fewer innings per appearance (both starters and relievers), which possibly is allowing them to increase their velocity in those outings (or throwing harder more often is causing those outings to be shorter).
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 05, 2018 at 08:49 AM (#5738806)
It certainly doesn’t seem likely that human anatomy and mechanics have changed so much that people can throw 10% faster now than a few years ago.
Have you watched any vintage baseball recently? The contrast between the players of as recently as the mid-‘80s and the players of today is stark, to put it mildly, both physically and mechanically. Players used to be, generally speaking, a bunch of guys who were built more or less like me (6’2”, around 170). They’re in much better shape and much more muscular now, since the rise in popularity of weight training in the past 30 years.

Mechanics have gotten much more efficient as well- you can still see some contrast in the pitching motions of the ‘80s, but it becomes more pronounced the further back you go. Pitchers used to have a lot of unnecessary motion and/or tended to ‘sling’ the ball in with far less concentration and mechanical precision and repetition on every pitch than they do today.
   37. bobm Posted: September 05, 2018 at 08:52 AM (#5738808)
Pitchers are clearly pitching fewer innings per appearance (both starters and relievers), which possibly is allowing them to increase their velocity in those outings (or throwing harder more often is causing those outings to be shorter).

They are not pitching fewer pitches per start. They are pitching a more regular number of pitches and innings every 5 days.

It is entirely possible that scouts are selecting prospects more based on pitch speed now, given the proliferation of radar guns, for example.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: September 05, 2018 at 08:55 AM (#5738811)
I wonder how much of our horror of specialization is based on the history of the game we love as opposed to what might make a sport more compelling to the new fan. I think that football is probably much improved by specialization. Although there's a thrill in seeing a superior athlete succeed on both sides of the ball, two-way football would also have less room for the strange body types and unique athletes that make it successful as a display of extreme athleticism - fewer Randy Mosses and Warren Sapps and Barry Sanderses. DH or no DH, baseball has allowed the pitcher to specialize, much to the improvement of the game. Imagine, for a moment, a baseball that had 9 designated fielders. No need to watch Mike Moustakas or Nick Castellanos awkwardly haul his bulk around the field, you'd have an elegant Pedro Florimon or So Taguchi type at every position. You'd still have a handful of Mookie Bettses and Francisco Lindors in the league, but the quality of play would be otherwise significantly improved on both sides of the ball.

I think that, in general, sports fans prefer specialization. The 100m dash is more popular than the decathlon. If, in some impossible way, basketball allowed Steph Curry to instantly sub out for Dennis Rodman every time possession changed, I think fans would prefer that. The standard of play would be better, players would be fresher, more capable of outrageous feats, no longer held back by their inadequacies. I'm not saying it would be better in ever way, clearly it wouldn't, but overall, it might be considered an improvement.

So, to this subject: once upon a time the Edwin Diazes and Rob Dibbles had no place in baseball. (For christ's sake, even Steve Dalkowski was never given a serious shot in the bullpen!) Now it's the Tommy Johns that are losing their place. If you're a new fan, who is more exciting, the guy that throws 100mph, or the crafty guy that can throw 170 pitches? It's easy for us to say that we prefer the intellectual game of watching the guy with many pitches try to fool batters repeatedly over the course of the game. We want to understand the narrative of the batter-pitcher matchup, and that narrative is denuded when you're unfamiliar with the pitcher, and when he only has one or two pitches. But usually I think people want to see the faster, more extreme game, the guys that are practicing on the edges of human ability.

Just playing devil's advocate here. In reality I think a blend is best. I think baseball gets this blend mostly right, and it's a joy that there's room in the league for both Jose Iglesias and for Nelson Cruz. And both Aroldis Chapman and RA Dickey. But I'm not sure what the perfect blend is.
   39. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 05, 2018 at 08:59 AM (#5738812)
On a recent broadcast I heard the announcers say that the high speed recordings now versus 10 years ago are primarily an artifact of how much better the speed guns are. Specifically, the Guns now pointed at the hand of the pitcher whereas when they were first introduced, the gun was measuring speed as the ball crossed the plate. The suggestion was that this was driving up speeds by about 5 mph on average

There was a documentary a few years back called Fastball. Speed measurements have changed, but this was more than 20 years ago. I don't think the top speeds have changed (Nolan Ryan still probably threw the hardest pitch) but more guys can bring it in mid 90s than 15-20 years ago. This is due to training and broader recruitment. It used to be one guy on a team who could throw that hard, but now more can. Add to that one inning relievers can gas is out and more pitchers are throwing harder.
   40. bunyon Posted: September 05, 2018 at 09:06 AM (#5738816)
It's a small change, but MLB should pass a rule that states that the wall is whatever is in front of the first seats. Take out all the walls before walls. Some parks won't change much. Some will get a huge amount of new OF space.

Bang. Field diversity and it's harder to hit HR everywhere.

If they seriously consider (they won't), shortening the basepaths, it should be by something like six inches. Enough that a really fast guy, all of a sudden, can beat out routine grounders and becomes a weapon but not enough that the sluggers will start to get hits.
   41. DavidFoss Posted: September 05, 2018 at 09:14 AM (#5738819)
Mechanics have gotten much more efficient as well- you can still see some contrast in the pitching motions of the ‘80s, but it becomes more pronounced the further back you go. Pitchers used to have a lot of unnecessary motion and/or tended to ‘sling’ the ball in with far less concentration and mechanical precision and repetition on every pitch than they do today.

Each person's motion used to be so distinctive. It used to be more fun to imitate the pitchers on the playground. I still remember the motions of some of otherwise forgettable players. Like Bob McClure used to stand upright and then then twist his back away from the plate so that you could read his number 10 and then he'd twist back and deliver the pitch.

As for velocity. There were guys that could bring heat back then, but there were a lot of 'crafty' soft-tossers as well. I guess Jamie Moyer wasn't all that long ago, but there used to be a couple of those types of pitchers in almost every rotation. Some of those guys could throw harder when they were younger and announcers but their arm was shot. They certainly had radar guns back then but I don't know how good the data is on what percentage of innings were pitched by junkballers.
   42. Russ Posted: September 05, 2018 at 09:21 AM (#5738828)
They are not pitching fewer pitches per start.


This is not true. Average number of pitches/GS

1998: 97
2008: 95
2018: 89

That's a percentage drop of 6% in the last 10 years and 8% in the last 20. It is true that pitches per IP for starters has gone up (15.9 to 16.38 to 16.48), but that's only a 3% increase.

They are pitching a more regular number of pitches and innings every 5 days.


I'm not sure how to get that data easily, that has always been your department. :-) I do think you have a nice idea there, that consistency of workload would lead to better velocity (in particular, fewer injuries / less pain leading to more consistently high velocity).
   43. SandyRiver Posted: September 05, 2018 at 10:11 AM (#5738867)
It's a small change, but MLB should pass a rule that states that the wall is whatever is in front of the first seats. Take out all the walls before walls. Some parks won't change much. Some will get a huge amount of new OF space.

Bang. Field diversity and it's harder to hit HR everywhere.

If they seriously consider (they won't), shortening the basepaths, it should be by something like six inches. Enough that a really fast guy, all of a sudden, can beat out routine grounders and becomes a weapon but not enough that the sluggers will start to get hits.

Some won't change at all. At Fenway, one would have to decide that the bullpen acreage would be in the field of play. Not realistic in this day and age (used to be common in antiguity), and that would merely expand what's probably the biggest RF this side of Coors.

Shortening the basepaths would bring more hits, but probably due mainly to IF playing a bit closer to catch those speedsters, thus allowing more grounders to reach the OF. Biggest effect of shortening might be in SB.
   44. BrianBrianson Posted: September 05, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5738868)
Well, that and all the steroids.


Ah, yes, I forgot that vote in July 1993 when all the players agreed to start using steroids all at once. It was about a year after the league switched from using Haitian made balls to Costa Rican made balls, but since they couldn't have possibly had a backlog of inventory, we can safely discount that having any effect.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2018 at 10:18 AM (#5738871)
Shortening the basepaths would bring more hits, but probably due mainly to IF playing a bit closer to catch those speedsters, thus allowing more grounders to reach the OF. Biggest effect of shortening might be in SB.


That's exactly what would happen. You'd have more hits get through the infield, plus more liners/pop ups drop in between the infield and outfield. How many would depend on how much distance you took off the paths (I've suggested starting at 87 feet).

And yes, it would also lead to more attempts to advance on the bases, whether that was by stolen base or simply taking the extra base on hits, since the success rates on such plays would go up.

To me, moreso than thicker bat handles or changes in the zone or expanding the field, this would be the change that truly puts a greater premium on putting the ball in play (thus making strikeouts more punitive).

Now, it's such a radical move that I'd try other less obtrusive methods first. I'm just not convinced the other methods would bring about the desired change.
   46. PreservedFish Posted: September 05, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5738874)
Perhaps the pitchers could be required to wear heavy wristbands.
   47. bunyon Posted: September 05, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5738877)
Some won't change at all. At Fenway, one would have to decide that the bullpen acreage would be in the field of play. Not realistic in this day and age (used to be common in antiguity), and that would merely expand what's probably the biggest RF this side of Coors.

Get rid of the bullpens. Seriously, they have better training facilities under the bleachers where the non-pitchers stay loose. Use that. Shortens the trip for entering relievers. You can put a camera in there to show everyone who is warming up. Put the bullpens in play. Voila, bigger fields.

And I love the idea of Fenway RF being bigger. I love the idea of really weird OF dimensions.
   48. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 05, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5738947)
there used to be a couple of those types of pitchers in almost every rotation. Some of those guys could throw harder when they were younger and announcers but their arm was shot.
Thus answering the Frank Tanana question for this thread.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 05, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5738952)
Ah, yes, I forgot that vote in July 1993 when all the players agreed to start using steroids all at once. It was about a year after the league switched from using Haitian made balls to Costa Rican made balls, but since they couldn't have possibly had a backlog of inventory, we can safely discount that having any effect.
No desire to turn this thread into a rehash of steroids arguments, but come on, to say the ball was entirely responsible and put the 'steroids' era in scare quotes is ridiculous. The undeniable fact is that many if not most (if not virtually all) of the most prominent power hitters were guys who took steroids, got cartoonishly huge and hit unprecedented numbers of homers. Sure, there were possibly, even probably, other factors, but you can't just write steroids out of the story. I'll leave it at that.
   50. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 05, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5738958)
I do think you have a nice idea there, that consistency of workload would lead to better velocity (in particular, fewer injuries / less pain leading to more consistently high velocity).

Except that BITD, struggling starters would get pulled a lot earlier because the role of "long relief" existed. How often now do we see guys labor through a painful line like

3-1/3 9 7 7 4 2

constantly in high-stress situations, pitching from the stretch, 25 and 30 pitch innings, letting the game get out of hand because it's more important to the manager than the starter "get his 100 pitches in" so he can "save the bullpen"? Those games can't be good for pitcher health.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 05, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5738970)
Except that BITD, struggling starters would get pulled a lot earlier because the role of "long relief" existed. How often now do we see guys labor through a painful line like

3-1/3 9 7 7 4 2

constantly in high-stress situations, pitching from the stretch, 25 and 30 pitch innings, letting the game get out of hand because it's more important to the manager than the starter "get his 100 pitches in" so he can "save the bullpen"? Those games can't be good for pitcher health.


This is my take as well. 100 pitches in 4 25-pitch innings with tons of base runners has to be much worse for the arm than 120 pitches in 8 15 pitch innings where the pitcher is blowing people away.
   52. BrianBrianson Posted: September 05, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5739033)
but you can't just write steroids out of the story. I'll leave it at that.


If you don't want to make it a re-hash of the discussion, don't post obviously false nonsense like this. Yeah, a lot of guys took steroids, but they didn't all start taking steroids in the summer of '93, and slowly stop taking them after 2000. They hypothesis that steroid use was primarily or entirely responsible for the home run environment change is incompatible with the data. The ball is only a hypothesis, but it's at least consistent with what we know, and we know ball changes were associated with massive changes in the HR rates in 1977, 1943, and of course, the last 3 years.
   53. bobm Posted: September 08, 2018 at 12:43 AM (#5740833)
Except that BITD, struggling starters would get pulled a lot earlier because the role of "long relief" existed. How often now do we see guys labor through a painful line like

3-1/3 9 7 7 4 2

[...]?


Not very often?


From 1991 to 2018, as Starter, (requiring Pitches>=95, Pitches<=105 and IPouts<=10)

Year   GS #    %
1991 4208 1 0.0%
1992 4212 0 0.0%
1993 4538 1 0.0%
1994 3200 2 0.1%
1995 4034 1 0.0%
1996 4534 1 0.0%
1997 4532 3 0.1%
1998 4864 3 0.1%
1999 4856 3 0.1%
2000 4858 5 0.1%
2001 4858 2 0.0%
2002 4852 4 0.1%
2003 4860 3 0.1%
2004 4856 0 0.0%
2005 4862 2 0.0%
2006 4858 2 0.0%
2007 4862 6 0.1%
2008 4856 3 0.1%
2009 4860 4 0.1%
2010 4860 4 0.1%
2011 4858 0 0.0%
2012 4860 2 0.0%
2013 4862 4 0.1%
2014 4860 0 0.0%
2015 4858 1 0.0%
2016 4856 4 0.1%
2017 4860 5 0.1%
2018 4202 1 0.0%


Here's a slightly looser constraint @ <= 4.1 IP

From 1991 to 2018, as Starter, (requiring Pitches>=95, Pitches<=105 and IPouts<=14)

Year   GS   #    %
1991 4208  34 0.8%
1992 4212  37 0.9%
1993 4538  59 1.3%
1994 3200  38 1.2%
1995 4034  47 1.2%
1996 4534  63 1.4%
1997 4532  52 1.1%
1998 4864  72 1.5%
1999 4856  94 1.9%
2000 4858  84 1.7%
2001 4858  62 1.3%
2002 4852  77 1.6%
2003 4860  95 2.0%
2004 4856  82 1.7%
2005 4862  73 1.5%
2006 4858  86 1.8%
2007 4862  98 2.0%
2008 4856  97 2.0%
2009 4860 105 2.2%
2010 4860  93 1.9%
2011 4858  68 1.4%
2012 4860  91 1.9%
2013 4862 106 2.2%
2014 4860  74 1.5%
2015 4858  80 1.6%
2016 4856 117 2.4%
2017 4860 135 2.8%
2018 4202 100 2.4%

   54. bobm Posted: September 08, 2018 at 12:57 AM (#5740836)
A: as Starter, (requiring Pitches>=95 and Pitches<=105)
B: as Starter, (requiring Pitches>=85 and Pitches<=100)
C: as Starter, (requiring Pitches>=85 and Pitches<=110)

Year     GS       A A/GS      B B/GS      C C/GS
1991  4,208     908  22%  1,229  29%  2,030  48%
1992  4,212     914  22%  1,183  28%  1,991  47%
1993  4,538     964  21%  1,217  27%  2,069  46%
1994  3,200     682  21%    858  27%  1,451  45%
1995  4,034     779  19%  1,119  28%  1,809  45%
1996  4,534     875  19%  1,203  27%  2,004  44%
1997  4,532   1,042  23%  1,321  29%  2,196  48%
1998  4,864   1,238  25%  1,580  32%  2,621  54%
1999  4,856   1,242  26%  1,560  32%  2,634  54%
2000  4,858   1,260  26%  1,486  31%  2,565  53%
2001  4,858   1,328  27%  1,710  35%  2,821  58%
2002  4,852   1,357  28%  1,730  36%  2,888  60%
2003  4,860   1,442  30%  1,732  36%  2,945  61%
2004  4,856   1,527  31%  1,759  36%  3,013  62%
2005  4,862   1,611  33%  1,810  37%  3,133  64%
2006  4,858   1,621  33%  1,902  39%  3,247  67%
2007  4,862   1,647  34%  1,992  41%  3,238  67%
2008  4,856   1,691  35%  2,022  42%  3,337  69%
2009  4,860   1,675  34%  1,922  40%  3,303  68%
2010  4,860   1,677  35%  1,801  37%  3,269  67%
2011  4,858   1,611  33%  1,861  38%  3,250  67%
2012  4,860   1,685  35%  1,950  40%  3,347  69%
2013  4,862   1,838  38%  2,067  43%  3,497  72%
2014  4,860   1,856  38%  2,129  44%  3,546  73%
2015  4,858   1,761  36%  2,124  44%  3,426  71%
2016  4,856   1,787  37%  2,250  46%  3,465  71%
2017  4,860   1,769  36%  2,274  47%  3,387  70%
2018  4,202   1,391  33%  2,045  49%  2,861  68%
   55. Leroy Kincaid Posted: September 08, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5740882)
Baseball is really going to f*** itself if it lets the non-descript 98 mph, 1 inning or less platoon advantaged relievers become the norm of the game, after the 4th inning.


Been reading the BPro Annual and it's annoying how many pitchers have a 0 under the GS column, even going back to the minors.

   56. nick swisher hygiene Posted: September 08, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5740885)
I wonder how much some rule change along the lines of "Only X number of players shall be allowed to participate in major league games in the course of a season" would cascade and solve a number of these other problems.

But that's impossible, right?

Looking just at the teams in the AL East, they've used between 44 and 62 (!) players this season.

What if you shrunk the 40-man to 35?
   57. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 08, 2018 at 01:07 PM (#5740903)
What if you shrunk the 40-man to 35?

You get a strike.
   58. John DiFool2 Posted: September 08, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5740920)
I could be wrong—my eyes could just be deceiving me—but having watched a good bit of old baseball games from the 70s and 80s, I think it’s pretty clear that pitchers then didn’t throw nearly as hard as pitchers today do. Nolan Ryan and young Roger Clemens certainly did, but everyone below that level, even the good pitchers, weren’t throwing the modern equivalent of 93+ MPH with anything like the regularity modern starters do. To say nothing of the endless parade of flamethrowing relievers in modern baseball.


Astonishing stat of the decade: the current average K/9 for MLB as a whole is higher than the K/9 for all but 3 pre-1980 pitchers who had any sort of career (Koufax/Ryan/Sam McDowell). Now go back and read that again to yourself, very slowly...

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