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 21, 2013

Cafardo: Strikeouts on the rise, and so are the theories

No mention of Bob Heise & Dave Berg’s Uncertainty Principle of Hitting. Odd.

ESPN analyst Curt Schilling said, “There are more power arms than I’ve ever seen before. Ever.”

Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus offers no firm data on the subject, but a theory that “teams seem to be rushing young hitters to the majors in an effort to save payroll.”

Marlins bench coach Rob Leary echoes that sentiment, saying, “There are a lot of hitters in Major League Baseball who are just cutting their teeth and may not be ready.”

A special assistant to a National League GM said bluntly, “It’s steroids. It’s no secret that players took steroids to improve their strength and vision. As players begin to get off the stuff because of the tougher penalties, hitters can’t wait as long to swing. They’re getting fooled on pitches that just a few years ago they’d be able to wait on and at least foul off.”

A longtime AL scout feels there’s too much emphasis on seeing more pitches per at-bat.

“It’s the in vogue stat now — pitches per at-bat — and I think it’s really screwing up hitters,” he said. “Because hitters are taking so many pitches, they’re getting down in the count, 0-2, 1-2, and major league pitchers are able to exploit that. Instead of going up there with a solid, aggressive approach, they take so many pitches they’re getting themselves in pitchers’ counts and striking out more as a result.”

A couple of our scouts were blaming the hitting coaches.

“So many ideas out there,” said one. “These coaches change jobs year to year and hitters are just being saturated with new ideas and new ways of doing things that they never just get back to what got them to the big leagues.”

How many times have we heard a hitter say, “Just getting back to the way I used to hit.” Then why did you ever change it to begin with? There are opposing theories of hitting out there, for sure. There always have been. The in-vogue method is to stay back with your hands and back leg and move forward. Some hitting coaches think this is backward, pointing to the fact that some of the great hitters, such as Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks, were out front with all of their movements.

Repoz Posted: April 21, 2013 at 06:30 AM | 76 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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.

   1. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4421020)
"Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus offers no firm data on the subject, but a theory that “teams seem to be rushing young hitters to the majors in an effort to save payroll.”

Marlins bench coach Rob Leary echoes that sentiment, saying, “There are a lot of hitters in Major League Baseball who are just cutting their teeth and may not be ready.”

But of course, all the young pitchers are Aces.
   2. BDC Posted: April 21, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4421022)
Nelson Cruz has never been ready, but who the heck else have we got?:)
   3. JJ1986 Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4421028)
“teams seem to be rushing young hitters to the majors in an effort to save payroll.”


Young hitters like Rick Ankiel.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4421042)
I can only speak for the Red Sox, Napoli is constantly pulling his head...Gomes is just bad against righties...WMB looks to be trying to swing his way out of a slump, and Jackie Bradley just turned into a mess because of some bad luck and getting rookie squeezed. Salty is Salty.

edit: Having now looked up their stats, those appear to be the only guys striking out once, or more, a game. Except for Gomes, who isn't as bad as he looks.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 21, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4421053)
You can blame a lot of things, but I think the three biggies are these, and they're somewhat interrelated:

---Too many hitters capable of 10 to 15 homers a year are swinging from the heels in an attempt to hit 20 or 25.

---Too few hitters are willing to adjust their swings with two strikes in order to make contact.

---There's much less sense of shame in striking out than there used to be. Whether that's necessarily a bad thing or not can be argued via dueling statistics, but it's an indisputable fact that this will lead to more strikeouts.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: April 21, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4421118)
---There's much less sense of shame in striking out than there used to be. Whether that's necessarily a bad thing or not can be argued via dueling statistics, but it's an indisputable fact that this will lead to more strikeouts.


Arguably the number one reason . But that is something that has been going on for over a decade now. Not sure that would be the primary reason for an uptick in strikeouts(assuming there is any uptick, as the article doesn't give much data points for comparison, and seems to be comparing one month of the season to entire years.

I really hope it is that there is a directive to expand the strike zone. If so it's just a learning curve for the batters, but it should ultimately lead to more "exciting" baseball. Fewer homeruns, more ball in play, fewer walks etc.

   7. vivaelpujols Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:37 AM (#4421896)
Oh my god those "theories" hurt my ####### brain.
   8. Davo Dozier Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:29 AM (#4421900)
Or:

As fielding has gotten better and better, batters have correctly realized that they are not properly incentivized to make weak contact to avoid striking out.
   9. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:45 AM (#4421902)
Working the count is definitely a factor. Baseball has run into a bad situation where an effective offensive strategy 'work the count, drive up the opposing pitcher's pitch count' has caught on around the league and made the game much less watchable. More non-action outcomes (Ks, BBs), long slow at bats, endless pitching changes, etc. Basketball came up with the shot clock to combat the four corners offense to improve their game, baseball has yet to come up with anything.
   10. bobm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:14 AM (#4421921)
It's fun to quote the B.S. hypotheses, but the real data points to the umpires and not swinging strikes.

FTFA:
The GM of one prominent American League team said it’s clear that “the strike zone is wider.”

There appears to be no directive from Major League Baseball for umpires to call more strikes. But if you watch games on TV and see the strike zone box, you are seeing pitches out of the zone being called strikes. It may be as simple as what the GM said, but there are other interesting ideas out there. A couple of Red Sox hitters have also said there are a lot of pitches out of the zone being called strikes.


See also this article on the trend over time.
   11. Lassus Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:15 AM (#4421932)
Baseball has run into a bad situation where an effective offensive strategy 'work the count, drive up the opposing pitcher's pitch count' has caught on around the league and made the game much less watchable.

Working the count would be more watchable if everyone got a goddammned move on in the box and on the mound.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4421973)

Young hitters like Rick Ankiel.


Or Jeff Francoeur, who struck out five times in two games yesterday and has 15 K's in 16 games this year.


---Too many hitters capable of 10 to 15 homers a year are swinging from the heels in an attempt to hit 20 or 25.

---Too few hitters are willing to adjust their swings with two strikes in order to make contact.

---There's much less sense of shame in striking out than there used to be. Whether that's necessarily a bad thing or not can be argued via dueling statistics, but it's an indisputable fact that this will lead to more strikeouts.


This. Look at a game from the 70s or 80s some time. When a guy gets two strikes he takes the wimpiest contact swing in the world just so he won't strike out.

I think also pitchers have better stuff, albeit for shorter duration, than they used to. Also we have specialized pitchers now coming in for just an inning of work.
   13. Dale Sams Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:39 AM (#4421989)
A couple of Red Sox hitters have also said there are a lot of pitches out of the zone being called strikes.


The zone has been all over the place the last couple of weeks.
   14. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4421998)
I don't think the strike zone is much different in terms of quality than it's ever been. I think the biggest difference is that with PitchFx and the various "Pitch Zones" that just about every network has we see it a bit more.

The high strike is gone but it's been gone for 20 years now.
   15. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4421999)
Working the count is definitely a factor. Baseball has run into a bad situation where an effective offensive strategy 'work the count, drive up the opposing pitcher's pitch count' has caught on around the league and made the game much less watchable. More non-action outcomes (Ks, BBs), long slow at bats, endless pitching changes, etc. Basketball came up with the shot clock to combat the four corners offense to improve their game, baseball has yet to come up with anything.

It's an imperative at this point. The game has become unwatchable for all but the most fervent devotees.

Both (1) taking pitches for the sake of taking pitches and (2) using 5-8 pitchers in a 9-inning game are fundamentally inconsistent with the design of the game -- as was the four-corners offense in basketball -- and action must be taken in baseball as it was in basketball.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4422004)
Is there any kind of study that looks at how many pitches are in the average game now as compared to say the 1980s?
   17. AROM Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4422016)
The Dodgers had some pitch count data from the 50s/60s, but complete pitch data only goes back to I think 1998.

This. Look at a game from the 70s or 80s some time. When a guy gets two strikes he takes the wimpiest contact swing in the world just so he won't strike out.


It would be interesting to compare how hitters do with 2 strikes. If the strikeout rate is lower in say, 1982, did those hitters give power? was their BABIP lower? Did the tradeoff make sense? But we've only got modern data to work with.



   18. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4422046)
Have other sports been destroyed (for lack of a better term) by analysis? To take a super simple example, Tic Tac Toe is fun for 5 year olds. But once you realize that the center square is key, and that you can always force a tie, then you lose interest. Connect Four is another one. You can play it as a kid and it's fun, but if you analyze it and come to realize that the middle column is key, then it becomes boring.

If parade-of-relievers is ideal from a pitching perspective, and rake-and-take is ideal from a hitting perspective, then it's possible that eventually baseball will just become too boring to survive. Has that happened to other sports? It seems less likely to happen to a sport based primarily on athletic ability and more likely to happen to a sport that's more mental.
   19. Ron J2 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4422048)
#17 Actually the Dodger pitch count data goes back to 1947.

1947 Dodger pitching game logs

   20. Ron J2 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4422055)
#16 Yeah there's an article at BP that used the Dosger data. It's quite interesting. Basically the average number of pitches per start was essentially the same, but the distribution is quite different.

Don Malcolm did a summary of the data at RSB. Basically what it boils down to is that pitchers back then were far more likely to pile up huge pitch counts and to be lifted very early when they were being shelled.

I believe that this is Don's work as well:

Estimated Pitches per MLB Team/Game:

2003 146
2000 149
1995 148
1990 144
1985 144
1980 143
1975 144
1970 145
1965 142
1960 144
1955 144
1950 146
   21. Lassus Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4422075)
It's an imperative at this point. The game has become unwatchable for all but the most fervent devotees.

Is it even possible any more for you not to bring hysteria and hyoperbole to every thread, SBB?
   22. bobm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4422076)
The Dodger and opponent data was compiled by Allan Roth between 1947-1964.

All other pitch count data goes back to 1988.

For 1988, sorted by greatest pitches: Results
   23. BDC Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4422080)
If parade-of-relievers is ideal from a pitching perspective, and rake-and-take is ideal from a hitting perspective, then it's possible that eventually baseball will just become too boring to survive. Has that happened to other sports?

"Too boring" is of course subjective, and people can enjoy just about any sport they know a lot about, no matter how technical the rules and how stylized the play. Wrestling is a good example: two people are lying on a mat, and some change in position that I can't even detect takes place, and the cognoscenti go crazy. It doesn't seem to have ruined the sport for its fans and participants (though there is that small matter of being banished from the Olympics, I admit).

Golf has become a matter of colossal drives and dead-accurate belly putters; tennis is played with rackets the size of fishing nets; yet when you get opponents locked in a struggle, it's still interesting if you find it interesting. It's scaled to the observer's knowledge and passion for it. NASCAR features arcane technicalities and tiny adjustments in tactics, and a hundred thousand people turn out for race day.

I often think that almost all sports are too boring to survive, but I would rather watch sports than do most other things in life. Thoroughbred racing consists of long periods of standing around poring over fine print or gazing at the paddock, punctuated by the occasional two minutes of running that look pretty much like every other two minutes of running you've ever seen. I love it.
   24. Dale Sams Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4422089)
I don't think the strike zone is much different in terms of quality than it's ever been. I think the biggest difference is that with PitchFx and the various "Pitch Zones" that just about every network has we see it a bit more.


Maybe catchers are getting better at fooling umps.

And when you think about it, even if we leave electronic zones out of it, it's just dumb that an ump could probably call a better game standing behind the pitcher (though that causes all kinds of problems with line drives) and certainly could call a better game in the booth, even taking the network pitch zone away. Of which I don't think some networks adjust for height.

edit: Salty is also horrible at framing pitches, so that may be contributing to my notion that this month has been really bad for the guys in blue.
   25. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4422100)
Is it even possible any more for you not to bring hysteria and hyoperbole to every thread, SBB?

It's not hyperbole in my case. I'd rather watch the four corners than a procession of in-inning pitching changes from Joe Schlabotnik to Joe Bagadonuts. The games grind to a halt a couple hours in, and the pitchers become a bunch of nobodies (*), so why bother investing the couple hours to get to that point?

(*) The functional equivalent of temp workers.
   26. Davo Dozier Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4422111)
* There were 8.4 strikeouts per game in 1952.

* There were 9.7 strikeouts per game in 1976.

* There were 10.4 strikeouts per game in 1983.

* There were 11.1 strikeouts per game in 1992.

* There were 12.5 strikeouts per game in 2005

* There were 13.6 strikeouts per game in 2008.

* There were 15.0 strikeouts per game in 2012.

I'm really worried that we'll be up to 20 strikeouts a game by the end of the decade, and then...yeah. Perhaps that member was being hyperbolic in his assessment, but baseball is moving very quickly in the direction of fewer balls in play, and at a certain point we'll need to accept that this is at a cost of public interest.
   27. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4422118)
There are already way fewer balls in play than 30 years ago. Somthing like 1/3.

It's not just the strikeouts, it's the utter haplessness of so many of them. Some guy watches a couple fatties go by, then flails at garbage that bounces a foot in front of the plate. While the GM sits up in a box saying, "Oh, that's not so bad, he made the pitcher throw 10 pitches. Great AB!!"
   28. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4422129)
Have other sports been destroyed (for lack of a better term) by analysis? To take a super simple example, Tic Tac Toe is fun for 5 year olds. But once you realize that the center square is key, and that you can always force a tie, then you lose interest. Connect Four is another one. You can play it as a kid and it's fun, but if you analyze it and come to realize that the middle column is key, then it becomes boring.


I think as long as there is a high end/low end split and different styles can succeed then it should be alright. The 15 strikeouts last year was still just a 20% strikeout rate. That leaves a lot of balls in play and a lot of action moments. Obviously there is a tipping point out there but my sense is the strikeout and the home run are the two things casual fans enjoy the most so we are far from a major problem.

   29. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4422137)

If parade-of-relievers is ideal from a pitching perspective, and rake-and-take is ideal from a hitting perspective, then it's possible that eventually baseball will just become too boring to survive. Has that happened to other sports? It seems less likely to happen to a sport based primarily on athletic ability and more likely to happen to a sport that's more mental.


I think the NBA suffered through this in the 90s when teams found that if they had less talent they could just hammer other teams, keep the score low, and eke out victories. The Knicks were the template. The NBA made rule changes to open up the game and prevent this. The NHL had a similar problem. College basketball is going through this now and I presume this will lead to rule changes.

And of course, the best example was the NBA before the shot-clock era, with teams just holding the ball.
   30. bobm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4422169)
From 1988 to 2012, Only 9-inning games, (requiring Pitches>=180)

                               
Rk   Year #Matching  W   L W-L%
1    1988        79 16  63 .203
2    1989        76 18  58 .237
3    1990        82 14  68 .171
4    1991       114 27  87 .237
5    1992       104 25  79 .240
6    1993       130 35  95 .269
7    1994       120 24  96 .200
8    1995       159 35 124 .220
9    1996       196 41 155 .209
10   1997       161 33 128 .205
11   1998       190 44 146 .232
12   1999       283 75 208 .265
13   2000       288 76 212 .264
14   2001       189 35 154 .185
15   2002       178 36 142 .202
16   2003       194 43 151 .222
17   2004       230 46 184 .200
18   2005       199 44 155 .221
19   2006       225 53 172 .236
20   2007       224 59 165 .263
21   2008       248 67 181 .270
22   2009       274 73 201 .266
23   2010       241 66 175 .274
24   2011       175 32 143 .183
25   2012       167 46 121 .275
   31. bobm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4422176)
From 1988 to 2012, Only 9-inning games, (requiring Pitches>=140)

                                  
Rk   Year #Matching    W    L W-L%
2    1988      1328  536  792 .404
3    1989      1402  560  842 .399
4    1990      1388  568  820 .409
5    1991      1553  625  928 .402
6    1992      1527  645  882 .422
7    1993      1754  720 1034 .410
8    1994      1416  600  816 .424
9    1995      1744  746  998 .428
10   1996      1898  813 1085 .428
11   1997      2001  858 1143 .429
12   1998      2191  907 1284 .414
13   1999      2475 1066 1409 .431
14   2000      2540 1110 1430 .437
15   2001      2260  968 1292 .428
16   2002      2242  961 1281 .429
17   2003      2337  996 1341 .426
18   2004      2428 1040 1388 .428
19   2005      2258  982 1276 .435
20   2006      2445 1053 1392 .431
21   2007      2450 1068 1382 .436
22   2008      2486 1085 1401 .436
23   2009      2555 1113 1442 .436
24   2010      2398 1054 1344 .440
25   2011      2353 1055 1298 .448
26   2012      2369 1027 1342 .434

   32. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4422326)
And of course, the best example was the NBA before the shot-clock era, with teams just holding the ball.

Yeah, this is a good point that does address my question. NBA probably dies off without a shot clock.
   33. BDC Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4422339)
NBA probably dies off without a shot clock

And yet men's college basketball survived another 30 years without the shot clock, a period characterized by a lot of legendary stars and by the UCLA dynasty. I reckon that the pro game had a "trickle-down" effect, though. Nobody wanted to showcase their star players for the NBA by having them run stalls and execute two-handed set shots.
   34. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4422354)
Has there always been a rule about advancing the ball in basketball? I think I understand the concept of four corners, the guys pass the ball all around and never take a shot. Before the shot clock, what prevented teams from simply having a guy stand at the top of the key and hold onto the ball for 20 minutes without moving? Why the need for four guys and passing?
   35. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4422362)
Has there always been a rule about advancing the ball in basketball? I think I understand the concept of four corners, the guys pass the ball all around and never take a shot. Before the shot clock, what prevented teams from simply having a guy stand at the top of the key and hold onto the ball for 20 minutes without moving? Why the need for four guys and passing?


Basketball has a "5 second" rule. I'm not an expert but basically if a player is closely guarded for 5 seconds without advancing the ball it's a turnover. If you are ever watching a game when the player comes into the frontcourt watch the ref. He'll start making a chopping motion with his right arm, that's him counting the seconds. The same arm motion is made on inbound passes and when the player is in the backcourt.

As a practical matter your suggestion of standing and holding the ball I think does not work. Eventually the player would either get fouled, a jump ball called or have the ball taken away from him.
   36. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4422366)
Has there always been a rule about advancing the ball in basketball? I think I understand the concept of four corners, the guys pass the ball all around and never take a shot. Before the shot clock, what prevented teams from simply having a guy stand at the top of the key and hold onto the ball for 20 minutes without moving? Why the need for four guys and passing?

Yes, the five second rule. Put in sometime in the early 70s (?)

Only the worst of the four corners games were complete stallfests -- and they were intolerable. Even great teams would strategically "run clock" if a guy was in foul trouble, or the strategy seemed to call for it -- say up 8 on the road with 4 minutes to play (pre-3), or if you got the ball back in a tie game with 1:20 to go and you wanted to take the last shot. While it certainly didn't fully showcase their skills, a Magic or a Phil Ford running the point in a four corners -- dribbling around guys, passing to one corner, getting the ball right back, dribbling around guys, passing to another corner, rinse and repeat -- was a display of athleticsm far more enticing than an oafish Adam Dunn or Mark Reynolds flail at a slider in the dirt for strike three.
   37. JJ1986 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4422370)
Has there always been a rule about advancing the ball in basketball? I think I understand the concept of four corners, the guys pass the ball all around and never take a shot. Before the shot clock, what prevented teams from simply having a guy stand at the top of the key and hold onto the ball for 20 minutes without moving? Why the need for four guys and passing?


There's a "closely guarded" rule in college basketball. An offensive player cant just hold the ball for more than 5 seconds and has to at least dribble it if there's a defender near him.
   38. AROM Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4422373)
Before the shot clock, what prevented teams from simply having a guy stand at the top of the key and hold onto the ball for 20 minutes without moving?


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the answer is nothing.

At least nothing in the official rules. But there must have been plenty of pressure to keep games like the above from becoming commonplace. After all, they were struggling to entertain the fans and pay the bills.
   39. ASmitty Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4422390)
Have other sports been destroyed (for lack of a better term) by analysis? To take a super simple example, Tic Tac Toe is fun for 5 year olds. But once you realize that the center square is key, and that you can always force a tie, then you lose interest. Connect Four is another one. You can play it as a kid and it's fun, but if you analyze it and come to realize that the middle column is key, then it becomes boring.


While it's not a sport, as someone who derives his livlihood from playing poker, this basically happened to heads-up limit hold 'em a few years back. Five years ago or so, HULHE was the sole game for many highly successful professionals (i.e. Matt Hawrilenko), and a bedrock game in the portfolio of many other highly successful professionals (i.e. Phil Ivy, Patrick Antonious).

Today, the game has basically vanished from the poker landscape, as it has been analyzed to the point where edges sufficient to beat the rake just can't be found. In fact, some computer programs have been writen that can play HULHE at a level that is at least a nuisance to a skilled professional. The game went from being one where an expert could make millions per year, to one that nobody really plays anymore. And it all comes down to the endless empirical and theoretical research that was done on the game.
   40. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4422398)
What's happened to baseball is the essential equivalent of what would happen to blackjack in Vegas if card counting was allowed.
   41. Dale Sams Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4422401)
Strikeouts would be even higher if teams did their homework better. Many-a-time I've seen teams try and blow Ciriaco away when it only takes 3 breaking balls, or get Gomes down 0-2, then think he's going to swing at the next three balls over his head, when one close slider will do it.
   42. PreservedFish Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4422403)
#40 - terrible analogy.
   43. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4422423)
Right, I know about the 5 second rule. That's why I asked if it was always there. Because if not, then even four corners makes no sense. Give your best free throw shooter the ball and have him stand there until he gets fouled.
   44. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:08 PM (#4422428)
#40 - terrible analogy.

Not really. As noted by several of us, too much knowledge can ruin the underlying activity. The ability to generate and churn data and to really know the math of the game has damaged the game.

Upon further review, it's actually a very solid analogy.
   45. TomH Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4422465)
It's all the Ray Chapman incident's fault, if you wish to boil it down to simplicity. Reward power hitters, you get TTOs. Reward placement hitters, you get BIP. Tweak a few rules (bat handle thickness minimum, ball resiliency, fence distance/height) and you swing back to drafting atheltes over Adam Dunns, and control specialists over Carlos Marmols.
   46. BDC Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4422473)
The ability to generate and churn data and to really know the math of the game has damaged the game

Somehow I doubt this. All the examples of sports being given here are of long-standing simple games that have had doldrums thanks to over-efficient playing styles, doldrums that can be counteracted by tweaking rules. If baseball is in such a rut, then mess with the strike zone, mound, fences, and baseball till you get it back where you like it. It's certainly been done before. Meanwhile, I can't see how you can solve the basic problems of four balls/three strikes. You still have to throw it over, and they still have to hit it.

A sport that would truly be broken if played by its book rules, as I've observed elsewhere, is Quidditch. You get 150 points for grabbing the Snitch and only 10 for whatever the hell else it's called. As a result, actual quidditch (which is now a pretty popular sport IRL, for whatever bizarre reasons) adjusts the value of the Snitch way downwards so that it makes some goddamn sense to try to do anything else.

I can't believe I'm writing this comment – not that your point is absurd, Bear, though it kinda is, but that my rebuttal is so much absurder :-D
   47. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4422496)
Before the shot clock, what prevented teams from simply having a guy stand at the top of the key and hold onto the ball for 20 minutes without moving?


Because that would be nearly impossible! Think about it, if you're not the tallest guy on the court, the ball will be at the level where other players could swipe at it, and there would be a tie-up after about a minute. And if you are the tallest, stand up from your desk and see how long you can hold your arms up the air!
   48. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:11 PM (#4422503)
EDIT: Wrong thread.
   49. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4422505)
EDIT: Wrong thread.
   50. Davo Dozier Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4422558)
If we agree that the current strikeout rate is a problem--or that, if they continue rising at their current pace that they will be in the near future--I don't think we need any extremely drastic changes to correct it. Rather, I think a few small adjustments could curb the trend.

The #1 reason we see more strikeouts is because batters are not incentivizied to avoid them--there's no real benefit to JUST putting the ball in play. The few times your lazy fly ball or weak grounder advances a runner ("productive out") is offset by the times you hit into double plays. Since there's no reward for making weak contact with two strikes, batters have responded by swinging as hard as they can even with two strikes against them (since the reward for making contact while swinging as hard as you can is so great.)

So what could we do to alter that, just a bit--make a greater reward for hitters who can simply avoid striking out? Well, I have some ideas:

1) Change the pick-off/balk rules. I've never understood the rationale behind not requiring left-handed pitchers to step off the mound with their left foot to attempt a pick-off. (Or we could try the Bill James method, of only allowing pitchers one pick-off attempt per base-runner, with every additional unsuccessful attempt being labeled a "ball" to the batter.)

*** You make it a little harder to pick base-runners off, they'll steal more bases at a higher rate. The more bases they steal, the fewer double-play opportunities batters will face.

2) Allow base-runners to get running starts on tag-up plays, as they could before ~1952. It was an Eddie Stanky innovation: He'd be on third base with 1 out. Batter would hit a fly ball to shallow center. And Eddie, rather than waiting with his foot on the bag, would take off a few yards away from home. He'd then time it, get a running start, and touch third base at full speed just as the fielder caught the ball.

*** This will increase the number of "productive out" chances--with a fast runner on base, any fly ball to the outfield will now have a chance to advance him another base. The penalty for a strikeout in these spots gets increased. (This will also slightly reduce the number of double-play opportunities...runners from first can advance to second on a few more sacrifice flies than they can currently.)

3) Reduce the size of gloves, especially among infielders.

*** I never see this discussed, so this could be an age thing, but it seems to me that the average glove size is much larger today than it was in the games I've seen from the 1970s. You make the gloves a little bit smaller, you create a small increase in the Error Rate and a small decrease in the Double Play rate. Both of these things will reward batters for putting the ball in play.

4) Move the outfield fences back ~10 feet or so in as many ballparks as this is possible.

*** This will make home runs less likely, which will slightly curb the current trend among even the non-power hitters of swinging as hard as they can as many times as they can to hit a home run. (Or, as someone above me said, of every .300-hitting, ~10 homer guy doing this so he can become a .250-hitting ~20 homer guy.

_ _ _ _ _

And lastly, of course, every one of these changes will reward young players who can run and hit line drives over fat old players who can just hit homers and strike out. So not only will the rules themselves curb the rising strikeout trend, but they'll lead to roster management decisions that will reverse the process as well.

It's my hope, at least, that at least a few of these will be implemented some time over the next decade. I love baseball, and will keep watching no matter what, but I really do not enjoy the way it is played in 2013.
   51. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4422563)
We could arrest the strikeout trend by doing away of the silliness of watching pitchers strike out in the NL and interleague games in NL parks.
   52. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4422565)
2) Allow base-runners to get running starts on tag-up plays, as they could before ~1952. It was an Eddie Stanky innovation: He'd be on third base with 1 out. Batter would hit a fly ball to shallow center. And Eddie, rather than waiting with his foot on the bag, would take off a few yards away from home. He'd then time it, get a running start, and touch third base at full speed just as the fielder caught the ball.

I know Stanky used to back up the 3b line... is that what runners used to do - line up straight out from the next base?
How is that not running out of the baseline?
   53. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4422566)
Have other sports been destroyed (for lack of a better term) by analysis?


Since the strikeout rate has been steadily increasing for several decades, why would we think that the analysis catching hold within MLB organizations in the last 15 years would be the reason?

Hell, the steadily increasing strikeout rate pre-dates Bill James.
   54. PreservedFish Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4422569)
Am I the only one that doesn't have a problem with the strikeouts? I guess more balls in play is better, but it isn't a big deal for me. The dull pace of the game is a much bigger problem.
   55. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4422574)
Am I the only one that doesn't have a problem with the strikeouts?


Nope. I don't either. Strikeouts and walks are just as exciting to me as several types of ball-in-play outcomes.
   56. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4422575)
Since the strikeout rate has been steadily increasing for several decades, why would we think that the analysis catching hold in the last 15 years would be the reason?

Among other reason, because there were times when it actually fell, i.e., the 70s.

American League: 5.1 K/9 in 1973, 4.6 in 1980.
   57. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4422577)
Strikeouts and walks are just as exciting to me as several types of ball-in-play outcomes.

There's nothing remotely exciting about a walk, other than in the sense than receiving the monthly dividend check is "exciting."
   58. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4422580)
There's nothing remotely exciting about a walk, other than in the sense than receiving the monthly dividend check is "exciting."


? Your team is trying to come back and needs baserunners, and a walk = a baserunner which is by definition exciting. For example.

See the Kevin Millar walk off of Rivera.

This isn't a punt/pass/kick skills competition we're watching. Most plays on the baseball field are "boring" in isolation, and we've seen them all before. EG a ground ball to second, or a pop fly to short. Most of what makes them "exciting" is context and how they change the game state.

Are you confused about this?

(And anyway, yes, strikeouts and walks can be exciting just for the pure pitcher-batter matchup.)
   59. PreservedFish Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4422582)
Walks can be exciting, in the right context, but you can say that about every type of play probably.

Strikeouts, however, are acknowledged to be awesome. That's why people hang up those K signs when a good pitcher is on the mound. But only from the point of view of the pitcher. For the hitter it is still something like a moral failing.
   60. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4422588)
MLB SO/G, 1946-2012:

1946 3.91
1947 3.69
1948 3.65
1949 3.61
1950 3.86
1951 3.77
1952 4.19
1953 4.12
1954 4.13
1955 4.39
1956 4.64
1957 4.84
1958 4.95
1959 5.09
1960 5.18
1961 5.23
1962 5.42
1963 5.80
1964 5.91
1965 5.94
1966 5.82
1967 5.99
1968 5.89
1969 5.77
1970 5.75
1971 5.41
1972 5.57
1973 5.24
1974 5.01
1975 4.98
1976 4.83
1977 5.16
1978 4.77
1979 4.77
1980 4.80
1981 4.75
1982 5.04
1983 5.15
1984 5.34
1985 5.34
1986 5.87
1987 5.96
1988 5.56
1989 5.61
1990 5.67
1991 5.80
1992 5.59
1993 5.80
1994 6.18
1995 6.30
1996 6.46
1997 6.60
1998 6.56
1999 6.41
2000 6.45
2001 6.67
2002 6.47
2003 6.34
2004 6.55
2005 6.30
2006 6.52
2007 6.62
2008 6.77
2009 6.91
2010 7.06
2011 7.10
2012 7.50

There was a big increase in the 1950s/60s, then it largely leveled off until the next big jump in the 1990s. Then another leveling off until just the past few seasons.

Whatever's going on here, it's undoubtedly too complex to be caused by any single factor. But the big change in the past few years, especially just 2011 to 2012, is unquestionably significant on an historical scale.
   61. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:20 PM (#4422608)
Whatever's going on here, it's undoubtedly too complex to be caused by any single factor.


More innings in the hands of short relievers.

(And as for the "leveling off," don't forget the lowering of the mound and the introduction of the DH in the late 60s/early 70s time frame.)
   62. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:26 PM (#4422614)
More innings in the hands of short relievers.

Has there been a significant increase in innings in the hands of short relievers since the mid-2000s?
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4422633)
More innings in the hands of short relievers.

There's really wasn't much difference between SP K-rates (20.7%) and RP K-rates (21.9%) in 2012.
   64. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:45 PM (#4422641)
Has there been a significant increase in innings in the hands of short relievers since the mid-2000s?


And, in answer to this question: no, there hasn't. Every season since 2006, IP per pitching appearance has varied between 2.22 and 2.28.
   65. BDC Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4422649)
Allow base-runners to get running starts on tag-up plays

Like receivers in arena football? I dunno … in baseball, it might increase scoring, but it might decrease interesting plays at the plate.
   66. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4422652)
And, in answer to this question: no, there hasn't. Every season since 2006, IP per pitching appearance has varied between 2.22 and 2.28.


Why are we limiting this to "since 2006" and why wouldn't we look at % of IP pitched by relievers?

This is beginning to remind me of your insistence that offense increased starting not in 1993 but in 1986.
   67. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4422656)
Why are we limiting this to "since 2006" and why wouldn't we look at % of IP pitched by relievers?

Get busy, no one's stopping you. Test your hypothesis.
   68. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4422660)
What about the lowered mound and the DH as reasons why the trend stalled a bit four decades ago?
   69. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:01 PM (#4422663)
What about the lowered mound and the DH as reasons why the trend stalled a bit four decades ago?

What about them? Of course they are factors impacting strikeout rates, undoubtedly important ones. Who has ever said they weren't?
   70. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:06 PM (#4422668)
Baseball may have changed, but I think football has changed more and we are worse off. The spread is not my cup of tea. Bring back two back sets and get rid of the tiny slot receivers.
   71. cardsfanboy Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:11 PM (#4422681)
Whatever's going on here, it's undoubtedly too complex to be caused by any single factor. But the big change in the past few years, especially just 2011 to 2012, is unquestionably significant on an historical scale.


We all know who to blame. Voros McCracken.
   72. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 22, 2013 at 08:16 PM (#4422694)
? Your team is trying to come back and needs baserunners, and a walk = a baserunner which is by definition exciting. For example.


No, that isn't the definition of "exciting." Exciting is more than just "something potentially advantageous happened for a team I'm rooting for." Avery Bradley traveling and giving the Knicks the ball back tomorrow night won't be exciting.

See the Kevin Millar walk off of Rivera.

Oh, so that's the definition. The most exciting walk in Red Sox history was exciting to a Red Sox fan, therefore all walks are exciting.

Um ... yeah.

Most of what makes them "exciting" is context and how they change the game state.

Are you confused about this?


"Exciting" was your word. (And if all that matters is game state change, why did you single out strikeouts and walks?)
   73. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM (#4422896)
What about them? Of course they are factors impacting strikeout rates, undoubtedly important ones. Who has ever said they weren't?


Because I made a statement that strikeout rates have been steadily increasing for decades, and it was pushed back on. Which is fine, but if the reason was the mound lowering and the DH, then my statement, while technically incorrect, was a valid observation with that qualification. Which didn't invalidate the point I was making.
   74. Steve Treder Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4422897)
it was pushed back on.

WTF are you talking about?
   75. zenbitz Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:14 PM (#4422933)

Not sure the correlations are what people say they are. For example, I was at this tautly played game ssat.

8 pitchers, 16 K, 6 BB, 1 HR, 2-0 game, 2:22 minutes. Only 8 hits and 237 pitches.
   76. Walt Davis Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:46 PM (#4422953)
Yes, the five second rule. Put in sometime in the early 70s (?)

Hmmm ... the wiki page doesn't give the date but I'm pretty sure it predates the 70s by a good bit. The rule was tweaked at some point -- I think that's when it was required to "advance" the ball rather than just move it or it might have been that dribbling didn't automatically count as advancing. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I recall there was a tweaking to the 5-second rule to try to make the 4 corners less viable while not implementing a shot clock. It's also possible that what I'm remembering was just an edict to referees to enforce the rule more vigorously.

Still, I really don't get it. We're talking about 4 more Ks per game from the 80s. Yes that's a "huge" increase but it's 4 out of 80 plate appearances. Does that really change the aesthetics of the game? Two extra Ks and 1 extra home run vs. two groundball outs, a single and a stolen base -- that shifts it from "exciting" to "boring"?

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
BFFB
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8-19-2014
(64 - 12:59am, Aug 20)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogPirates activate Andrew McCutchen from the disabled list
(8 - 12:57am, Aug 20)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogKeidel: Don’t Be Fooled — The Yankees’ Season Is Over
(56 - 12:51am, Aug 20)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - August 2014
(271 - 12:40am, Aug 20)
Last: robinred

Newsblog[Ubaldo] Jimenez to the bullpen
(8 - 12:38am, Aug 20)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October

NewsblogIwakuma gives Mariners a second true ace
(1 - 12:38am, Aug 20)
Last: vortex of dissipation

NewsblogMinor League manager undresses during epic home plate tirade
(7 - 12:32am, Aug 20)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October

NewsblogKepner (NYT): Astros’ Jose Altuve Doesn’t Let Height Be a Disadvantage
(1 - 12:15am, Aug 20)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October

NewsblogMooney: Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks aren’t showing any nerves with Cubs
(33 - 11:48pm, Aug 19)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogPosnanski: The need – the need for speed
(3 - 11:30pm, Aug 19)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogRingolsby: Helton's numbers stack up against the best
(59 - 11:15pm, Aug 19)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogGammons Notes - 8/17/14
(53 - 11:11pm, Aug 19)
Last: theboyqueen

NewsblogRoth: The Mets' Matt Harvey problem is a Mets problem
(6 - 10:55pm, Aug 19)
Last: MNB

NewsblogOT August 2014:  Wrassle Mania I
(39 - 10:42pm, Aug 19)
Last: NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!)

NewsblogOT: Politics, August 2014: DNC criticizes Christie’s economic record with baseball video
(4204 - 10:33pm, Aug 19)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

Page rendered in 0.4943 seconds
52 querie(s) executed