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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Feinstein: Jeff Passan: ‘Tim Hudson Not A Hall Of Famer’

Fabulous Hudson hornet’s nest.

Is Hudson a Hall of Famer?

“I think that’s a little much,” Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan said on The John Feinstein Show. “I think he’s one of those guys who has been very good and would be a first-ballot Hall of Very Good player, but Hall of Fame is a little too much. He’s never been the best pitcher in the league, and I think part of that is due to the fact that what he does is really under-appreciated.”

“I think we’re just starting to understand now why Tim Hudson has been as successful as he is,” Passan continued. “We always knew the ground ball rate was there, which leads to fewer strikeouts. And the peripheral categories that we now look at for greatness aren’t quite as great with Tim Hudson. But what he does is he throws a sinker ball that doesn’t spin a whole lot. With the technology that’s in place these days, we now understand why some pitches that seemingly shouldn’t be effective – such as a 90-mile-per-hour sinker from a guy who stands about 5-10 and weighs 175 pounds – is a monster pitch.”

Indeed, higher spin on a fast ball gives the pitch a rising effect, and higher spin on a curve gives it a tighter break. But higher spin on a sinker? That’s no good. The less spin on a sinker, the tougher it is for a batter to square up and hit.

“That’s Tim Hudson’s secret,” Passan said. “He throws a sinker ball that doesn’t spin very much.”

The Atlanta Braves have to be kicking themselves for letting Hudson sign with San Francisco.

“I was actually shocked that the Braves let him go,” Passan said. “He just made too much sense for them, and I think they were foolish. They ended up with a rotation right now that has been patchwork for most of the season, and losing Gavin Floyd to a broken elbow certainly doesn’t help.”

Repoz Posted: June 24, 2014 at 06:27 AM | 139 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Ziggy's screen name Posted: June 25, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4735385)
I'd imagine that there's a bit of lag between the on-set of a higher offensive environment and more pitches thrown. In 1993, if your starter gave up three runs in five innings you might pull him, not yet realizing that that's just how things work now. Likewise, I bet pitchers got pulled early in 1987 a lot. (Although I don't have PI and don't know how to check without it.)
   102. RJ in TO Posted: June 25, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4735398)
Likewise, I bet pitchers got pulled early in 1987 a lot. (Although I don't have PI and don't know how to check without it.)


Taking a quick look at the splits, SP in 1986 averaged 6.2 IP per start, 6.1 OP per start in 1987, and 6.4 IP per start in 1988. So there was a dip in 1987, albeit only a small one.
   103. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 25, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4735399)
I think strikeouts are an indication of more effort being put forth. Strikeouts are not entirely the domain of the batter, the pitchers figure pretty heavily into that particular result, an uptick in strikeouts is indicative(at least to me) that a is trying harder to get that batter out, than just allowing him to put the ball in play and see what happens.


And I think this is largely rubbish. If pitchers could half-ass it to get batter's out, then the offensive environments should have been absurdly low when they, quite naturally, gave it closer to the 100 percent effort we expect from top notch athletes.
   104. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: June 25, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4735462)
Under that theory, Tom Glavine had an even larger HR split between bases empty/men on. I'm not sure if he's from the pitchers had to try harder generation.

Fundamentally different. With RISP, Palmer's K% went up by 30% with barely any rise in his UBB%. Glavine's UBB% went up 83% and his K% actually went down. Glavine didn't suppress slugging by breaking the glass on his best stuff, he did it by refusing to throw the ball over the plate.
   105. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2014 at 04:12 PM (#4735508)
And I think this is largely rubbish. If pitchers could half-ass it to get batter's out, then the offensive environments should have been absurdly low when they, quite naturally, gave it closer to the 100 percent effort we expect from top notch athletes.


I'm not understanding this sentence.

In lower scoring environments, it meant that fewer players were on base, which meant when dealing with guys who couldn't hit homeruns, (defensive specialists and pitchers) that the pitcher could play "put the ball in play, and let babip sort it out" instead of having to nibble or strategize the pitching as much. With a higher run environment, and with more 7th, 8th and 9th hitters capable of hitting the ball out of the park, there became a need to treat those lineup spots more carefully (note this doesn't actually mean they will have better success or not. This just means that they would put more effort into facing the batter.)


With the current run environment dropping, there may be a tendency to go back to relaxing at the bottom of the order, but I think that the continued increase in strikeouts, indicates that pitchers aren't relaxing like they had in the past. I also think that with the pitcher knowing they are only going to pitch 110 or so pitches, that they are putting more effort per batter.
   106. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 25, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4735544)
I'm not understanding this sentence.


If pitchers could get good results by coasting, then they should have been able to get great results by trying even harder (which is the kind of effort level we should expect out of world-class athletes).

Run scoring levels have moved up and down throughout history. I doubt the effort level of the participants was ever a factor in those changes.

In lower scoring environments, it meant that fewer players were on base, which meant when dealing with guys who couldn't hit homeruns, (defensive specialists and pitchers) that the pitcher could play "put the ball in play, and let babip sort it out" instead of having to nibble or strategize the pitching as much. With a higher run environment, and with more 7th, 8th and 9th hitters capable of hitting the ball out of the park, there became a need to treat those lineup spots more carefully (note this doesn't actually mean they will have better success or not. This just means that they would put more effort into facing the batter.)



We're in a lower scoring environment. If all this is true, then pitchers today should be able to cruise.

With the current run environment dropping, there may be a tendency to go back to relaxing at the bottom of the order,




It isn't dropping. It's dropped. If you could relax for the 60s dregs, you can do it for the Cozarts of today.

but I think that the continued increase in strikeouts, indicates that pitchers aren't relaxing like they had in the past. I also think that with the pitcher knowing they are only going to pitch 110 or so pitches, that they are putting more effort per batter.


Those sound like choices, not requirements.

   107. Ziggy's screen name Posted: June 25, 2014 at 04:43 PM (#4735567)
Given that there's a huge number of players ready to take a major league job, I'd imagine that every marginal player who likes making a major league salary pitches 100% on every pitch. Once you stop doing that, you're out and the guy who will do that gets called up. (Until he gets injured, and then the next guy gets called up. Sucks to be marginal.)

Are things different for the non-marginal players? The marginal ones find a big league job motivating. But it seems that the non-marginal ones find money motivating (even when it has dropped below what you (i.e., us non-rich people) would expect to be the point at which it has much of any marginal utility). You'll notice that they usually take the highest bid when they're FA. On the other hand, the non-marginal players have long-term contracts, and so don't have the immediate threat that the guys on the AAA/MLB line do.
   108. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 25, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4735580)
I was just looking at this, or trying to look at it, with PI. Criteria was from 1985 to 2014, through age 30 season, ERA+ 110 or better, at least 1,000 IP, and I ordered it by WAA. The guys at the top who could easily be considered elite are Martinez, Maddux, Clemens, Saberhagen, and Santana. So Johan is our first elite guy who pitched under the circumstances I'm looking at, clearly he does not support the idea elite pitchers are enjoying longer careers.


This is an interesting way to look at the question, but you have to look at the prior generation as well, don't you, if you're wondering whether their careers are getting longer or not. Lots of elite 1970s pitchers did have long careers, but plenty of them didn't, too. The top five pitchers by WAR in 1971, for example, include Wilbur Wood, Fergie Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Vida Blue and Mickey Lolich, which as far as longevity goes, is a good match for your five up there, with two 4KIPers.

I also wonder why you set the date as early as 1985 if you're ignoring the first half of that data set.

   109. DL from MN Posted: June 25, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4735587)
We're in a lower scoring environment. If all this is true, then pitchers today should be able to cruise.


Or are we in a lower scoring environment because pitchers aren't being asked to go through the lineup a 3rd time?
   110. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 25, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4735609)
wrong thread sorry
   111. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 25, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4735632)
[110] got edited so never mind
   112. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:10 PM (#4735693)
We're in a lower scoring environment. If all this is true, then pitchers today should be able to cruise.


Partially agree, with a few caveats.
It isn't dropping. It's dropped. If you could relax for the 60s dregs, you can do it for the Cozarts of today.

1. Everybody on a major league roster is more capable of hitting a homerun than they did in the past. Gone are the days of Belanger or Maxvill or Ozzie taking up the 8th spot. Homeruns throughout the lineup is more common, so "cruising" has the added disincentive of a possible homerun.

2. Pitchers might be able to cruise, but instead they are not. As indicated by the increased strikeout totals. I absolutely think if they wanted to, pitchers could cruise a little more than they had in the past but they just don't want to(because of relievers, strikeouts or whatever)

3. Cruising doesn't necessarily mean they will get worse results. And it doesn't mean they are throwing meat balls up there for the opposition to hit, it just means they aren't wasting effort for pinpoint accuracy or max speed.


Those sound like choices, not requirements.


again, not understanding your point. To cruise or not to cruise is a choice, pitchers nowadays are choosing not to cruise.
   113. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4735723)
again, not understanding your point. To cruise or not to cruise is a choice, pitchers nowadays are choosing not to cruise.

In one of Roger Angell's books Bob Gibson talks about chucking high BP fastballs to middle infielders and letting them fly out to the warning track. I think that in the modern environment more of those guys can hit the ball out of the park, making the BP fastball approach less workable. At the same time, there was an expectation that Gibson was going to go 9 a large percentage of the time, an expectation that contemporary hurlers don't face. So Gibson almost had to cruise at times if he was going to have something left at the end of the game on a regular basis, while a modern pitcher cannot cruise so easily because (as Walt is always pointing out) hitters today still hit the crap out of the ball when they manage to make contact.

So cruising or not cruising is a choice in a technical sense, but not in a practical one. A guy who chooses to cruise these days is likely also choosing to play for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League; Bob Gibson choosing not to cruise would have blown out his arm.
   114. alilisd Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4735738)
I'm extremely skeptical of the idea that today's pitchers have to exert max effort ALL THE TIME whereas guys in the past could just coast. It just doesn't make sense to me.


That's taking it further than I've seen anyone posit. It's not all the time, necessarily, but more of the time. And it's not that guys in the past could just coast, but it's undeniable there was no DH, which removed a dead spot in the lineup for half of baseball anyway, and that the OPS of the bottom third of batting positions in the 60's all the way through the 80's was much lower than it has been from the 90's forward. There's more max effort in the 90's-forward era and less coasting than there was in the Second Deadball Era.
   115. Bhaakon Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4735740)
If pitchers could get good results by coasting, then they should have been able to get great results by trying even harder (which is the kind of effort level we should expect out of world-class athletes).

Run scoring levels have moved up and down throughout history. I doubt the effort level of the participants was ever a factor in those changes.


Actually, I think there's pretty good evidence for major changes in the game being linked to effort level--or, more precisely, where those efforts were concentrated. It's pretty clear that the power explosion ca. 1920 was from batters putting more effort into hitting the ball out of the park. Also that players put a lot more effort into stealing bases in the '70s and '80s than before or since. Why? Because some event or confluence of events changed what people think about optimal baseball strategy, with the result that teams and players started concentrating more of their efforts in those directions. Those are just two obvious examples, I'm sure there are more subtle ones.

I think there's a pretty good case to be made that both the shift in bullpen usage and the discovery/promulgation of DIPs theory have lead to pitchers making a conscious effort to inflate their strikeout totals, which results in more effort being expended.
   116. alilisd Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:46 PM (#4735742)
The funniest thing about looking at the eras, say 2013 vs 1974, is that starting pitchers today average pretty close to the same number of innings per start. 5.9 vs 6.45(NL)...basically the average pitcher in 1974 recorded two more outs per start. The difference in usage today vs in the past is that 1. pitchers do not get pulled, as frequently today before the 5th inning, even in blow outs. 2. The spread between the aces in innings pitched and average, was greater in the 70's than nowadays.


Cool, thanks!
   117. alilisd Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4735749)
but that doesn't necessarily follow that each pitch requires max (or closer to) max effort, which is the argument I object to.


Regardless of whether it's required, it's up to the pitcher whether they exert it or not. IOW, a pitcher's behavior may not match the situation. We could look at the situation and think there's no need for max effort, but a pitcher may still exert it for personal reasons.
   118. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4735750)

In one of Roger Angell's books Bob Gibson talks about chucking high BP fastballs to middle infielders and letting them fly out to the warning track. I think that in the modern environment more of those guys can hit the ball out of the park, making the BP fastball approach less workable. At the same time, there was an expectation that Gibson was going to go 9 a large percentage of the time, an expectation that contemporary hurlers don't face. So Gibson almost had to cruise at times if he was going to have something left at the end of the game on a regular basis, while a modern pitcher cannot cruise so easily because (as Walt is always pointing out) hitters today still hit the crap out of the ball when they manage to make contact.

So cruising or not cruising is a choice in a technical sense, but not in a practical one. A guy who chooses to cruise these days is likely also choosing to play for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League; Bob Gibson choosing not to cruise would have blown out his arm.


I am quoting this, because I 100% agree with everything written in this post.

Sosh is more or less arguing that pitchers didn't cruise as much in the day as we like to think that they did. I think there is plenty of anectdotal evidence along with actual evidence to support that they did cruise, and that there is an argument to be made, that helped the good ones put up ridiculous innings pitched totals for the season.
   119. alilisd Posted: June 25, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4735766)
I also wonder why you set the date as early as 1985 if you're ignoring the first half of that data set.


I was trying to get a frame of reference for elite pitchers in there so I could reasonably say who would be considered elite today. I'm basically looking at guys who started mid-90's or later and so I felt by including guys from roughly 10 years prior, I could get a feel for what elite was just before the mid-90's. Thanks for your insight on comparng to the prior generation as well. Cheers Tom!
   120. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4735770)
On stress and strikeouts and the modern game:

None of us know the answer to this and I doubt even real experts in pitching really know.

But this ties to my ad nauseum point that the main driver behind the lower offense of today is the Ks and that batters are, on average, hitting the ball as hard as they ever had. Today's pitchers can't rely on getting outs from contact anymore than the sillyball era pitchers could. They have to generate lots of outs by Ks.

There is an argument that they possibly could chill out a bit on one batter since they're more likely to K the next guy (i.e. occasionally trading a potential K for contact is less damaging due to fewer on base).

As to Cozart -- he's a poor hitter by today's standards but still manages 304/463 on-contact. Rafael Belliard hit 265/311 on-contact. In about 60% as many PAs, Cozart has nearly caught Belliard in TB.

The counterpoint might be Gene Alley (better OPS+ than Cozart). He hit 302/421 so that's fairly close. But then their K-rates were pretty close too at about 1 per 7 PA. Alley produced 16.5 oWAR; Cozart is at 2.4 in roughly 1/3 of the PA.

So they probably can coast as much/more with Cozart as with Alley ... which might be why Cozart's K/PA is much further below league average than Alley's. But they had a walk in the park with Belliard.

Or are we in a lower scoring environment because pitchers aren't being asked to go through the lineup a 3rd time?

4th time.

I see this a lot about starters not going through the lineup a 3rd time. I don't blame you, I'm pretty sure I've seen MGL say the same thing and it ties back to the Book (and earlier stuff) about the decline in performance 3rd time through.

C'mon folks, twice through the order is only 18 batters faced. NL 2014, starters average 4.2 batters per inning. They are through the order twice early in the 5th inning.

On average they are facing 25.35 batters per start. In 1984 it was 26.05 -- it's only .7 fewer batters per start. (No idea if 2014 or 1984 are typical but they're likely not far off) Still, starters have to go through the order three times and they haven't been allowed to do so 4 times since the heyday of the 60s/70s complete game era (which was largely limited to elite starters and low leverage situations).

The change in bullpen management -- i.e. more 1-inning or less relievers -- has little to do with starter management. In the olden days you might use 2 relievers to cover the last 12 batters of the game; now you use 5 relievers to cover the last 13 batters but it's still just 1 more batter, no matter how many pitchers you use. The next innovation might be to stretch those guys out more -- get starters closer to 23-24 batters -- but it ain't here yet and it will likely take a long time to get it there.
   121. cardsfanboy Posted: June 25, 2014 at 07:33 PM (#4735794)
As to Cozart -- he's a poor hitter by today's standards but still manages 304/463 on-contact. Rafael Belliard hit 265/311 on-contact. In about 60% as many PAs, Cozart has nearly caught Belliard in TB.


I'm not sure why he is getting mentioned, he has hit double digit homeruns in both of his full years in the majors. He's not an example of a glove first type of hitter who you can just throw a ball at and let him hit it.

From 2011-2013 there were 63 seasons, in which a player got 400 pa and hit 5 homeruns or less. 1983-1985 (avoiding the strike year) there were 142 such seasons, 1973-1975 133 times, 1963-1965 76(remember number of players in the leagues) It's abundantly clear that fewer players today are easy outs than they were in the past. (note to be more accurate I could do percentage of seasons that qualify, but it's pretty obvious that it's going to end up with the further back we go, the more higher the percentage of seasons we will find by full time players who lack power)

The counterpoint might be Gene Alley (better OPS+ than Cozart). He hit 302/421 so that's fairly close. But then their K-rates were pretty close too at about 1 per 7 PA. Alley produced 16.5 oWAR; Cozart is at 2.4 in roughly 1/3 of the PA.


Not really. If he can't hit homeruns, then who cares if he gets a double with one out and the pitcher coming up next. That is the point of coasting, you don't worry about the guy, because he just can't do real damage to you. You don't coast with weak batters and men on base, you coast with a big lead or nobody on base and no real threat behind them.

The change in bullpen management -- i.e. more 1-inning or less relievers -- has little to do with starter management. In the olden days you might use 2 relievers to cover the last 12 batters of the game; now you use 5 relievers to cover the last 13 batters but it's still just 1 more batter, no matter how many pitchers you use.


I love that paragraph.

The next innovation might be to stretch those guys out more -- get starters closer to 23-24 batters -- but it ain't here yet and it will likely take a long time to get it there.


I still argue the next innovation, will be to use your starters as a reliever on their "throw" day. Everyone says that they treat the throw day as if it's a game, but just limit it to a lot fewer pitches...why not put them in the game, I know that a good reason not to, is of course you never know if they'll be needed and it gets ridiculous to have them do their throw day at 10pm..if they don't get used.
   122. Bhaakon Posted: June 25, 2014 at 07:58 PM (#4735807)
I still argue the next innovation, will be to use your starters as a reliever on their "throw" day. Everyone says that they treat the throw day as if it's a game, but just limit it to a lot fewer pitches...why not put them in the game, I know that a good reason not to, is of course you never know if they'll be needed and it gets ridiculous to have them do their throw day at 10pm..if they don't get used.


I don't know. Starters use their throw day to develop new pitches or work on things that caused them trouble in their previous start. That's not something that they can do in a real game.

That's setting aside any issues of workload.
   123. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 25, 2014 at 10:25 PM (#4735880)
again, not understanding your point. To cruise or not to cruise is a choice, pitchers nowadays are choosing not to cruise.


I'm arguing against the idea that pitchers today have to exert max effort more frequently than ever before. So if it's a choice, it matters.

Sosh is more or less arguing that pitchers didn't cruise as much in the day as we like to think that they did. I think there is plenty of anectdotal evidence along with actual evidence to support that they did cruise, and that there is an argument to be made, that helped the good ones put up ridiculous innings pitched totals for the season.


No, I'm arguing against the idea that today's pitcher is uniquely required to throw max effort, which has been said on this thread and others.

I can buy the idea that in a high-offensive environment, a pitcher will be taxed greater. Since that's not the environment we're in, I just don't see how this current generation of pitcher is required to throw at max effort more often than previous generation's pitchers did.

And there is no actual evidence to support your claim, other than to accept as fact certain suppositions (strikeouts require max effort, home runs are the only aspect of run-scoring that matters in the coasting argument). There may be some validity to the former (though the fact that today's hitters are far more willing to strike out makes this much more difficult to pinpoint than folks here are allowing). I don't see any reason to think that the distribution of runs in otherwise equal scoring environments matter. If homers are more likely to occur, than other run-scoring elements are less so. Such is baseball.

   124. Mefisto Posted: June 25, 2014 at 10:51 PM (#4735894)
I think there is plenty of anectdotal evidence along with actual evidence to support that they did cruise, and that there is an argument to be made, that helped the good ones put up ridiculous innings pitched totals for the season.


Christy Mathewson pretty much says this flat out in "his" book. The title expresses the basic idea: "Pitching in a Pinch". That is, throw hard when you need to.
   125. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2014 at 02:00 AM (#4735970)
m not sure why he is getting mentioned, he has hit double digit homeruns in both of his full years in the majors.

I used him because ...

SOSH in #106: It isn't dropping. It's dropped. If you could relax for the 60s dregs, you can do it for the Cozarts of today.

Possibly he meant Kozma -- 69 career OPS+ who's 302/407 on-contact. Belanger -- 68 career OPS+, 266/327 (none of that counts his sac bunts). You're certainly at more risk pitching to contact to Kozma than Belanger.

Now, does a strikeout require more effort? I don't know but I assume so and we occasionally have pitchers/teams talking about pitching to contact to reduce stress (mainly via pitch counts). Someone noted upthread that p/PA have been going up since we started tracking them -- that suggests more effort per out (but possibly lower effort/out relative to sillyball).

I don't know how we could possibly know. Probably the best pseudo-experiment we have is NL vs AL since, with pitchers batting, you should be able to coast more in the NL on both the pitcher and the first 2 times you face the #8 hitter. I've never noticed any consistent difference in IP/start or pitches/start but I'm not sure I've ever done a thorough check (and if I did, it was years ago). There might be counter-vailing effects -- in the AL, you never have to balance a pitcher coming to the plate against whether you want him to start the next inning.

That said, can we really be talking about much more than shaving off 2 pitches per start or 6 pitches of 90% rather than 100%?

On change in bullpen management: a caveat I'll add to my earlier statement is that I think (but don't know) that it was more common to pull a struggling starter in the early innings -- then he might go an "extra" inning or two the next time. That is average batters faced per start was more likely to be a mix of 18, 27, 36, 26, 18, 27, 27, 36 in the olden days and now is more like 26, 26, 26, 26, 26, 26, 25, 27, 26. That may in part be due to bullpen management -- i.e. it's too hard to cover 6 innings of relief one at a time but you're not carrying long relievers anymore.

   126. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 26, 2014 at 02:23 AM (#4735977)
Possibly he meant Kozma -- 69 career OPS+ who's 302/407 on-contact. Belanger -- 68 career OPS+, 266/327 (none of that counts his sac bunts). You're certainly at more risk pitching to contact to Kozma than Belanger.


Neither is terribly risky. If you have to throw max effort to Zack Cosart beecuase you're terrified of the repercussions if you don't, you're doing it wrong.

And, of course, pitching to contact doesn't guarantee contact. Nor, of course, does not throwing max effort equal pitching to contact.
   127. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2014 at 03:18 AM (#4735979)
Neither is terribly risky. If you have to throw max effort to Zack Cosart beecuase you're terrified of the repercussions if you don't, you're doing it wrong.

But we were discussing differences across eras. Clearly a pitcher is hurt more by contact by Kozma than by Belanger. If we are talking about similar overall run-scoring environments, then avoiding contact by Kozma is substantially more important. (not sure we are in that particular comparison but go with it)

I meant to raise this point earlier. The change that brought about the sillyball era was a rather huge jump in on-contact production. This came along with a jump in the K-rate but the jump in production was much greater. More runs. This suggests that this was a widespread change in batter strategy (or quality) moreso than a change by pitchers. (No doubt it was a bit of both but if pitchers were in control, run-scoring wouldn't have skyrocketed.) The last few years we've seen a jump in K-rates while on-contact production has remained constant. This suggest that this is a widespread change in pitcher strategy or quality ... or just an enlargement of the strike zone.

Anyway, in 1980 NL (roughly similar overall rate stats to 2014 NL, nearly identical R/G), the average batter (including pitchers sorry) hit 305/440 on-contact. You'll note that, on-contact, Kozma (surely one of the worst today) isn't much worse than that. Cozart, an average-hitting SS, is nearly identical. In 2014 NL, the average is 324/505. Another factoid: for his career, Robin Yount hit 325/490 on-contact ... an average batter, including pitchers, today.

It is an open question whether "coasting" leads to more contact but there's no question that pitchers of the last 20 years have had to focus much more heavily on avoiding contact. I can see an argument that in the first 10 years, a pitcher could throw the same stuff and still get more Ks -- it probably was more a change in batter approach. The last 10 years (esp the last 5) is either about pitchers displaying better stuff or a larger strike zone or, possibly, batters swinging more wildly to generate the same on-contact power that they did 10+ years ago.
   128. Ron J2 Posted: June 26, 2014 at 09:44 AM (#4736112)
#127 As I've mentioned before there pretty clear evidence that management was selecting against the slap and run type of hitters. It's most clear in the decline in the number of fast, low OPS switch-hitters. The fact that this type of player was becoming less frequent also explains why stolen base frequency declined.
   129. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 26, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4736138)
But we were discussing differences across eras. Clearly a pitcher is hurt more by contact by Kozma than by Belanger. If we are talking about similar overall run-scoring environments, then avoiding contact by Kozma is substantially more important. (not sure we are in that particular comparison but go with it)


I've been clear in what I've been discussing - refuting the idea that pitchers today have to "pitch max effort" more frequently than they ever have in the past. Along those lines, I'd say a pitch to a Kozma with a runner on second is a situation that demands a far greater focus, location, delivery (closer to max effort) than a pitch to a similar hitter (even one with better on-contact numbers) in an bases empty situation, and you're going to find the former situation more frequently in a high-offense era.
   130. cardsfanboy Posted: June 26, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4736353)
refuting the idea that pitchers today have to "pitch max effort" more frequently than they ever have in the past.


It's the "have to" part that I don't get. I don't think anyone has ever said they have to, just that they are. At least I'm not arguing they HAVE to, I'm arguing that they are. Although as I've tried pointing out multiple times, making a mistake today to an 8th place hitter has a bigger potential of damaging your numbers than they did in other low scoring environments. Since today's hitters are more likely to put one over the fence.
   131. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 26, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4736370)
It's the "have to" part that I don't get. I don't think anyone has ever said they have to, just that they are.


Well you'd be wrong. It's been done many times, including this thread. That's what I've been refuting.

making a mistake today to an 8th place hitter has a bigger potential of damaging your numbers than they did in other low scoring environments. Since today's hitters are more likely to put one over the fence.


And that would be offset by the fact that you would have more men on base or some other way that pulls those low-offense era up to the current one in terms of total offense. You're making way too much about the fact that today's crappy hitters may knock six homers out of the ballpark when yesterday's would only knock one.
   132. cardsfanboy Posted: June 26, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4736398)
And that would be offset by the fact that you would have more men on base or some other way that pulls those low-offense era up to the current one in terms of total offense. You're making way too much about the fact that today's crappy hitters may knock six homers out of the ballpark when yesterday's would only knock one.


I'm not too sure what you are arguing, in the past with nobody out and the 7th, 8th and 9th hitters are batting, you could just throw the ball and let them put it in play and hope for the best, resting on the knowledge that there is no chance they can score a run against you. In today's game that isn't the case. That is the entire point of cruising. You don't cruise with men on base, if someone is on, then of course you are trying to get the out.

The fact that players today can hit homeruns, negates the option to cruise, in comparison to the old days.
   133. alilisd Posted: June 26, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4736401)
in 1980 NL (roughly similar overall rate stats to 2014 NL, nearly identical R/G), the average batter (including pitchers sorry) hit 305/440 on-contact. ... In 2014 NL, the average is 324/505.


I think this is an important difference. I noted it in more general terms, OPS rather than "on-contact," but even though the runs scored have dropped to lower levels, the other components of offense have not. Runs are down, K's are up, but the power threat is definitely still there, at least moreso than the three decades prior to the 90's.
   134. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 26, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4736425)
I'm not too sure what you are arguing, in the past with nobody out and the 7th, 8th and 9th hitters are batting, you could just throw the ball and let them put it in play and hope for the best, resting on the knowledge that there is no chance they can score a run against you. In today's game that isn't the case. That is the entire point of cruising. You don't cruise with men on base, if someone is on, then of course you are trying to get the out.


First of all, that's hyperbole. You didn't have to be as careful, but you didn't throw BP either.

Second, you're pretending that these 7-8-9 hitters are legitimate deep threats. It's more the case that they're slightly more likely to go deep than their early era predecessors, but you don't have to be giving the San Diego Padres all your best stuff because of the odds-on likelihood of them taking you deep if you don't.

Third, there's a sizable gap between cruising and going all out that you're not acknowledging.

Finally, the run environment matters. If the dregs in the 4.16 RPG environment we're currently in are more likely to go deep than their counterparts from yore in a similar 4.16 RPG environment, then that is being made up somewhere else.

Going deep is just one aspect of this entire conversation (at least the one I'm having). But facing Drew Stubbs with the bases empty should require less stress than facing Rafael Belliard with a man on second, regardless how much more likely Drew Stubbs is to go deep. That's why the fact we're in a low RE matters when we look at how much "max effort" pitchers must exert now vs. the past. It's not all about the dingers.
   135. cardsfanboy Posted: June 26, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4736618)
First of all, that's hyperbole. You didn't have to be as careful, but you didn't throw BP either.


Agree. But there were two things going on. 1. Arguably less stress on the arm by reducing the effort from 95%(which is what I'm assuming is probably fairly standard for most of the game) to 90%. 2. attempting to throw it in the strike zone, reducing the number of pitches per plate appearance.

Second, you're pretending that these 7-8-9 hitters are legitimate deep threats. It's more the case that they're slightly more likely to go deep than their early era predecessors, but you don't have to be giving the San Diego Padres all your best stuff because of the odds-on likelihood of them taking you deep if you don't.


These, 7,8,9 hitters are hitting 10 homeruns a year, that is roughly one every 3 weeks during the season, they are legitimate threats to go deep if you aren't somewhat careful.


Third, there's a sizable gap between cruising and going all out that you're not acknowledging.


I guess it's a semantics issue, I do not think, nor have I ever thought, nor will I ever think that pitchers go all out on every pitch, there is a reason that announcers have the cliche comment about dialing it up. (see post above about 95% vs 90%...if you want to say it's 90% vs 85% it wouldn't bother me at all) I do think that pitchers maintain a higher level of effort for more batters faced than they did in the past. Whether they have to or not is a different debate, but it's pretty apparent to me that they do(and nothing wrong with that, with the knowledge that you most likely won't complete the game, there is no reason to save anything for those last two innings)


Finally, the run environment matters. If the dregs in the 4.16 RPG environment we're currently in are more likely to go deep than their counterparts from yore in a similar 4.16 RPG environment, then that is being made up somewhere else.


The run environment matters, but so does how those runs score also matter, if it generally requires two+ batters to get a run in, vs 1 batter to get a run in, then there is more opportunities, even in the same run scoring environment, to cruise.

Going deep is just one aspect of this entire conversation (at least the one I'm having). But facing Drew Stubbs with the bases empty should require less stress than facing Rafael Belliard with a man on second, regardless how much more likely Drew Stubbs is to go deep. That's why the fact we're in a low RE matters when we look at how much "max effort" pitchers must exert now vs. the past. It's not all about the dingers.


Still don't see it. If you have nobody on base, why stress how you approach Belliard? If he can't go deep, you play the odds, let him put it in play and hope for the fielders, if not, then bear down on the next batter. With Stubbs you don't get that option. He can score himself.
   136. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 26, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4736653)


If you have nobody on base, why stress how you approach Belliard?


Why are you putting nobody on base? If the run environments are similar, then the extra homers are going to have to be offset with runs somewhere else, likely by more men scoring on sequence plays. Thus, you're going to face more situations with ROB. That's the key element of the discussion you keep ignoring.
   137. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 26, 2014 at 03:35 PM (#4736668)
Why are you putting nobody on base? If the run environments are similar, then the extra homers are going to have to be offset with runs somewhere else, likely by more men scoring on sequence plays. Thus, you're going to face more situations with ROB. That's the key element of the discussion you keep ignoring.

I'm with SoSH here. If the offensive level is the same then the hitters are equally dangerous on average. Unless you're making some weird distributional argument; if the worst hitters today are better, than the good hitters have to be worse, to get the same total scoring.

Even if the worst hitters today have more power, they are more likely to strike out, even if the pitcher doesn't use max effort. On contact rates aren't the only part of offense.
   138. cardsfanboy Posted: June 26, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4736698)
Why are you putting nobody on base?

Because that is when you cruise....
   139. cardsfanboy Posted: June 26, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4736714)
If the run environments are similar, then the extra homers are going to have to be offset with runs somewhere else, likely by more men scoring on sequence plays. Thus, you're going to face more situations with ROB. That's the key element of the discussion you keep ignoring.


I have been talking about pitchers willingness to cruise or put less than normal effort into their approach to a batter in less crucial situations. In the past, when a person who sucks as a hitter came to bat, and if there was nobody on base, then the pitcher would ease up on his effort, let the batter put the ball in play, with the knowledge that the worst thing that could happen is that you have a man on base and you have to put more effort in the next guy. In today's game that option isn't as likely to present itself, since the bottom of the order hitters are twice as likely to score themselves. (there is a huge difference between a 8-12 hr a year hitter than a 2-5 a year hr hitter.)


It has nothing to do with scoring environments, has nothing to do with whether a pitcher has to go max effort or not, it has everything to do with the mental make up and expectations of pitchers nowadays than in the past. It's a choice, and it's a choice, that pitchers are CLEARLY making in the modern age, that they didn't make in the past.
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