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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

BtBS: The Rise of the Called Strike

Using the retrosheet files dating back to 1988 (when pitch count data first becomes prevelent [sic]), I found that the amount of Balls per plate appearance has remained relatively stable since 1988, but the amount of strikes per PA has risen considerably.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise—walk rates in the majors have returned to normal, while strikeout rates continue to inflate exponentially.

But what I did find surprising is that despite all the flame-throwing 7’ tall relievers with 100 mph four-seamers and untouchable, ‘filthy’ breaking pitches, it’s not the Swing-and-Miss Strike that has become more popular over the last two decades. It’s actually the Called Strike that has become more frequent in the modern day pitcher-batter face off

bobm Posted: March 27, 2013 at 08:22 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: umpiring

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   1. TomH Posted: March 27, 2013 at 09:55 AM (#4397496)
a fine article!

I suspect breaking up the "called strikes per PA" trend line into groupings like
a) players who hit home runs in >4% of PA
b) players who hit home runs in <1.5% of PA
c) the middle group in between
....... such that the 3 groups are about equal

and see what corrleation there is, as well as how the increase in HR/PA over time work swith this, might show if batter selectivity in pitches to emphasize power is an important variable.

   2. Walt Davis Posted: March 27, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4397882)
It's probably my crappy connection but the article won't load for me. This is probably addressed in the article but in case not ...

(Not having seen the actual numbers) this is surprising to me. If balls/PA is remaining the same while strikes/PA is going up, then it's not strike zone expansion, it's an even greater reliance on rake and take. Which is consistent with more called strikes.
   3. dr. scott Posted: March 27, 2013 at 06:53 PM (#4397971)
One theory I read about the rise of strikeouts was the analytics available now on every batter. (for instance I have an app on my iphone that tells me every hole in hittters swing given counts, pitcher handedness etc). the theory is its easier for the pitchers, whose job is to be able to throw the ball at any location, to exploit this data than it is for the batter to correct the hole in the swing. I guess this would jibe with this data if one assumes the hitters also know the holes in thier swings and just dont swing at those balls... seems more likely that all strike outs would be up though.. too bad. I liked that theory.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: March 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM (#4398105)
I possibly take it back a bit. Obviously pitches per PA is going up (if the number of balls are the same and the number of strikes are up) which means the denominator is bigger so the rate of ball/pitch is lower which is consistent with an expanded zone. Per PA rather than per pitch seems a somewhat odd way to measure it to me.

Or is he not counting BIP as "strikes"?

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