Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Bill Madden: Unprecedented rise in strikeouts is sapping power and fun out of game

Bill Madden probably hasn’t been this upset since the untimely death of Oscar Randolph Fladmark Jr.!

If you’re among the ever-dwindling Mets fan base grown weary of watching your Flushing lads striking out in record numbers while killing rally after rally in what has too often been unwatchable baseball, there is this consolation: You are not entirely alone.

In fact, what we are seeing in baseball — the huge spike in strikeouts accompanied by an alarming, steady decline in runs and homers — has become an epidemic that is only going to get worse. It’s an unfortunate proven fact that never was the game more popular than at the height of the steroid era in the late 1990s, when home runs were flying out of ballparks in bunches. Offense sells, at the same time there is nothing more boring than watching your team strike out 10 times in a game and score two or fewer runs. (In the Mets’ case, of course, all the strikeouts by their hitters might be somewhat more palatable if not compounded by continually bad bullpen work and shoddy defense.)

...Again, advantage pitchers — which, as baseball concluded in 1968, the “Year of the Pitcher,” in which the average major-league ERA was 2.98 — and runs per game had dipped to 6.84, the lowest since 6.77 in 1908 — isn’t good for business. As a result, the honchos enacted radical changes, lowering the pitcher’s mound from 15 inches to 10 in 1969 and then introducing the designated hitter in the American League in 1973. MLB is facing a similar crisis now — in which too many games across both leagues are going to resemble those dreadfully boring Mets-Marlins affairs of last summer — and baseball’s popularity will suffer.

Unfortunately, there may not be a solution this time, as most hitters in the game is conditioned to striking out and there is no longer any stigma attached to it. The pure hitter — such as Joe DiMaggio, who struck out 13 times in his great 1941 season in which he hit safely in 56 straight games and led the league with 125 RBI; Yogi Berra, who just three times in 19 seasons had more than 30 strikeouts; or Ted Kluszewski, the hulking 6-2, 225-pound Cincinnati Reds slugger who led the NL with 49 homers and 141 RBI in 1954 and struck out just 35 times — has become a dinosaur. The closest we’ve got is Albert Pujols, who never topped 65 strikeouts from 2003-09 when he was consistently hitting 40-plus homers and knocking in 100-plus runs for the Cardinals.

It’s kind of a sad commentary, isn’t it, that teams routinely striking out 1,200-1,300 times a season is looked upon as no big deal, just as players striking out 150 or more times has become acceptable. You just wonder, with runs and homers decreasing the way they are, how long the fans are going to find this kind of baseball acceptable?

Repoz Posted: April 06, 2014 at 05:39 AM | 123 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2
   101. zenbitz Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4681863)
HBP
   102. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4681868)
If rosters expanded to 30 next year, teams would immediately start carrying 17 pitchers.
   103. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4681878)
Despite popular perception, IP/start hasn't really changed much over the past 35 years - from 6.21 in the '80s to 5.94 in the '10's (up slightly from 5.88 in the '00s), or less than 1 out/game.

What's the standard deviation, though? It seems like in the past a starter would get yanked in the 2nd when he was getting shelled, but then would average 8 IP on "normal" days. In cases like that, you'd have need for only a couple of short relievers and one or maybe two long guys. Nowadays, the starter goes 6 whether he's dealing or not and you need 3 or more short relievers per game.
   104. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4681922)
If rosters expanded to 30 next year, teams would immediately start carrying 17 pitchers.


We'd have 7th inning LOOGYs, 8th inning LOOGYs, and 9th inning LOOGYs.

Never underestimate the manager's desire to be able to make decisions without actually making a decision.
   105. nick swisher hygiene Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4681949)
what would be the reasonable minimum "active game roster"?

set it at 18, that means you can't have more than about 6-7 pitchers, double-switch becomes the norm in the NL....

I guess what I want is to minimize in-game "tactics" , while potentially increasing "strategic" (roster construction) options, since "tactics" are dull in real time; shift the fanboy micromanaging brainpower in the direction of strategy, and free up the game on the field to move more quickly.
   106. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4681961)
what would be the reasonable minimum "active game roster"?

set it at 18, that means you can't have more than about 6-7 pitchers, double-switch becomes the norm in the NL....

I guess what I want is to minimize in-game "tactics" , while potentially increasing "strategic" (roster construction) options, since "tactics" are dull in real time; shift the fanboy micromanaging brainpower in the direction of strategy, and free up the game on the field to move more quickly.


This is a really good concept. You'd have to set the number remembering that the rotation will all be on the "inactive" list. (Other than that day's starter, obviously.)
   107. thetailor Posted: April 08, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4681965)
The obviousness of this idea -- limiting the size of the gameday roster (or the bullpen roster -- non-starting pitchers available that day) is glaring. I'm not sure why it has never been discussed.
   108. bobm Posted: April 08, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4681967)
[103] See http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/kantkowski_verlander_aside_todays_pitchers_never_pushed#4117244
   109. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 08, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4681974)
I'd have a gameday roster of 5 pitchers, with one like the 3rd QB in the NFL that can only play in an emergency. Thirteen hitters, so 18 total.

So a max of three bullpen guys per team per game. The 5th pitcher can pitch if the game extends to extra innings and the other three relievers are truly burned out -- that detail is easily worked out. I might set a limit of 14 innings, then the game is suspended if it's a tie.

Setting your gameday roster would then become kind of a cool strategic thing, that fans could chew over and that would give saberists something fun to grind the data and probabilities about.
   110. Ron J2 Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4682032)
#96 I can't actually find any evidence of this. Colin Wyers thought he had, but there was a method error (and one which I was aware of since I'd previously made the same error)

Attendance is very tricky to model (revenue is easier, but even so the best I can do has a standard error in the range of $10 million) but to the extent that you can it's mostly how good do the fans expect the team to be followed by how good are they actually.

That is to say that winning percentage in 2013 is roughly twice as important as final winning percentage in 2014 in explaining the final 2014 attendance (and payroll for 2014 actually works better than winning percentage in 2013. But payroll lags a year. That is to say that 2014 payroll correlates more highly with 2013 winning percentage than 2014 winning percentage)

I can't find any evidence that bandwagon fans (and those are what matters in explaining marginal attendance or marginal revenue) care much about how the success is achieved.
   111. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4682047)
If rosters expanded to 30 next year, teams would immediately start carrying 17 pitchers.


I don't see it. If they expand rosters the first thing to be added would be a third catcher, then teams might start debating on how to balance the pitching needs with platoon bats. I would fully expect teams to go to 14 man pitching staff with a 30 man roster, even 15...but it still would expand the bench some.
   112. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4682049)
#96 I can't actually find any evidence of this. Colin Wyers thought he had, but there was a method error (and one which I was aware of since I'd previously made the same error)


Why not? When scoring went up league wide, attendance went up league wide, not really seeing anything tricky about it. Were their other factors? of course there was, but basically from 1987 to now attendance has gone up in baseball to record levels for most existing franchises and that happened to coincide with more offense. Pretty much every franchise that existed prior to 1970 has set attendance records in the past 15 years, even after applying a 20% penalty because of the change in reporting.
   113. thetailor Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4682051)
Setting your gameday roster would then become kind of a cool strategic thing, that fans could chew over and that would give saberists something fun to grind the data and probabilities about.

Exactly. Like dressing players in hoockey (on a macro basis) or announcing eligible recivers in the NFL (on a micro basis).

It would add more strategy too in terms of things like reliever usage in game as well -- if your setup guy is almost through an inning at 23 pitches, you may leave him in because you're leaving him off the dress roster tomorrow either way.
   114. nick swisher hygiene Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4682064)
"gameday roster" management rules might also be needed, to keep managers from having, eg, two "teams" of 3 setup guys that they just rotate in and out on an alternating-game basis.....or maybe that's ok, actually--why not?

plus you'd get players complaining about not being on the gameday roster enough: a rich vein for the media to tap!
   115. Eddo Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4682067)
But it's not rigid construction. You aren't being told you can only have 12 pitchers on the roster. You aren't being told who can play where (Baseball literally has no definition in the rules for any position other than first, catcher and pitcher and has no rules saying where you can position any player other than catcher and pitcher) In the NFL there are rules on the number of quarterbacks you can have, who can be on the line, who can be in motion etc. I do not think that is a necessary rules for baseball. Your manager has 25 man roster, he can fill it anyway he wants. He can position the players anywhere he wants, I like that freedom.

Football doesn't have rigid roster construction, either.

There are strict rules about where players can be lined up at the snap of the ball, but you can literally have any player in any one of those positions (uniform numbers in general indicate who is and is not an eligible receiver, but can be overidden on a play-by-play basis if need be). (EDIT: And there are absolutely zero rules on how many of each position you can have on your roster. A team could carry only kickers and defensive ends if they wanted to.)

Baseball doesn't have as many rigid rules for when the ball is about to be put in play, but it does have some; the pitcher must be on the rubber and the catcher in the catcher's box come to mind.

In baseball you have a bench, a bench is about specialization, it adds to the enjoyment for a team to put a specialist in, but unlike football and other sports, its a limited one use bullet. I personally like a larger roster because I want to see more offensive player options, the rise of the reliever has limited the bench, some can argue that it's still the managers choice how they make up the roster, but I just would like to return a little to the past where you have a little more flexibility on the bench, teams have lost roughly 2 roster spots with the rise of the relievers, let's get those back without losing the freedom of creating your own roster.

That's a fair enough opinion. I guess I misread your comment. My apologies.
   116. Ron J2 Posted: April 08, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4682084)
#112 Well the simplest way to look at the matter is that attendance did not decline league wide in 1988 or 1989.

There's a strong upward trend in revenue (and attendance). Any serious study has to take that into account The way Zimbalist did it (and his study started earlier than 1987) was to simply use the year in the multiple regress (actually year - 1984 iirc) and I've always followed Zimbalist.

Offensive levels are down from their peak. Revenue continues to rise.
   117. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4682088)
Football doesn't have rigid roster construction, either.


They used to. I missed that in 2011 they changed the rules on the third quarterback.

   118. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4682093)
#112 Well the simplest way to look at the matter is that attendance did not decline league wide in 1988 or 1989.

There's a strong upward trend in revenue (and attendance). Any serious study has to take that into account The way Zimbalist did it (and his study started earlier than 1987) was to simply use the year in the multiple regress (actually year - 1984 iirc) and I've always followed Zimbalist.

Offensive levels are down from their peak. Revenue continues to rise.


Any serious study on attendance has to make the assumption that any changes (more offense, a mascot or whatever) won't be reflected in the attendance of the same year the change happens. At least not fully, attendance trends are going to be one year after the fact other than the late season boost from being competitive.
   119. Ron J2 Posted: April 08, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4682108)
CFB what is your point?
   120. Hank G. Posted: April 08, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4682113)
Lowering the mound would be the best way to reduce strikeouts as it would be effective and has precedent. Changing any of the dimensions would be idiotic.


There is a precedent for moving the mound back too.
   121. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:23 PM (#4682150)
CFB what is your point?


You mentioned that attendance didn't decline league wide in 1988.... my point is that it wouldn't if increased offense was a driving force in attendance. Of course anything like increased offense (or whatever) would have to be sustained for a few years before you can reasonably expect any noticeable jump in attendance.

   122. Ron J2 Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4682153)
#121 It also didn't decrease in 1990 or 1991, If scoring was what mattered you'd expect a downward trend line to matter.
   123. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4682201)
#121 It also didn't decrease in 1990 or 1991, If scoring was what mattered you'd expect a downward trend line to matter.


I don't think scoring is all that matters, but I think the a large percentage of casual fans have a sweet spot that makes them enjoy going to the game more, when it's too boring, then you are stuck with the hard core fans. I haven't done the study or seen the study, but it seems that there is a sweet spot for all sports in amount of offense vs defense that the fans want, whether it affects attendance is subject to debate/study.

Obviously a lot of factors affect attendance, but it's hard to argue that attendance now is hurting in comparison to the 60's or some previous decade that some old fogey wants to point as the nadir of baseball fandom.
Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Mike Emeigh
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogGleeman: Royals may bench Norichika Aoki for Game 3
(21 - 3:00am, Oct 24)
Last: PreservedFish

Newsblog9 reasons Hunter Pence is the most interesting man in the World (Series) | For The Win
(8 - 2:52am, Oct 24)
Last: mex4173

NewsblogWhat's Buster Posey's best trait as a catcher? Here's what his pitchers had to say - Giants Extra
(2 - 2:24am, Oct 24)
Last: Dr. Vaux

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(368 - 2:12am, Oct 24)
Last: RollingWave

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(3402 - 1:51am, Oct 24)
Last: Swoboda is freedom

NewsblogKey question GMs have to weigh with top World Series free agents | New York Post
(28 - 12:50am, Oct 24)
Last: Dale Sams

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(867 - 12:47am, Oct 24)
Last: Poster Nutbag

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-23-2014
(13 - 11:36pm, Oct 23)
Last: EddieA

NewsblogDealing or dueling – what’s a manager to do? | MGL on Baseball
(44 - 11:31pm, Oct 23)
Last: villageidiom

NewsblogRoyals are not the future of baseball | FOX Sports
(39 - 11:25pm, Oct 23)
Last: villageidiom

NewsblogOT: NFL/NHL thread
(8370 - 11:22pm, Oct 23)
Last: Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee

NewsblogI hope this doesn't get me fired. | FOX Sports
(23 - 11:17pm, Oct 23)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogGold Glove Awards finalists revealed | MLB.com
(53 - 11:07pm, Oct 23)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread, September 2014
(904 - 10:56pm, Oct 23)
Last: frannyzoo

NewsblogSalvador Perez, Hunter Strickland Exchange Words In World Series (GIF) | MLB | NESN.com
(27 - 10:44pm, Oct 23)
Last: toratoratora

Page rendered in 0.3953 seconds
52 querie(s) executed