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Friday, September 21, 2018

Hall of Famer John Smoltz says MLB needs an overhaul and proposes drastic changes

Smoltz proposes that MLB adopt a split-season schedule, just as they do in the minor leagues, in a move that he believes will create dramatic division races again, reduce the number of teams tanking for draft picks, and make baseball great again in September.

He also wants to ban shifts. And he’s on the competition committee, folks.

Perry Posted: September 21, 2018 at 08:05 AM | 87 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball is dying

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   1. , Posted: September 21, 2018 at 09:16 AM (#5748666)
There is a non-zero chance that MLB screws around and does something insanely stupid enough to blow the league up, isn't there?

I mean, I wish games were faster but faced with a choice between most of the "solutions" I read about and status quo, I take status quo. And I'm not even rolling in piles of money the game generates.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 21, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5748671)
There is a non-zero chance that MLB screws around and does something insanely stupid enough to blow the league up, isn't there?


Non-zero? Yeah I guess but I don't think we'll see anything remotely close to what Smoltz is proposing here (thankfully). Of the really dramatic changes that get proposed this is what I think will happen (not necessarily what I want to happen);

Universal DH - Yeah, next CBA or the one after that
Banning Shifts - Sooner than later
Change in service time rules - Not anything meaningful (I suspect the Universal DH will be the giveback by owners to offset that, the PA likes the higher paying DH jobs)
Expansion - Yes but I think we're a decade away at least
Playoff changes - Not until expansion. I don't think a 3 or 5 game wild card is likely ever. I won't be shocked if a two team expansion, then 4 division in each league eliminates the WC game and they'd make the LDS 7 games.
Split schedule - Not happening
Pitch clock - Sooner than later
   3. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: September 21, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5748685)
I think that baseball's "problems" (i.e., what people complain about; some of these are real problems, some of them aren't) can be broken into four broad categories:

1.) pace of play, micro (it takes too long from pitch to pitch)
2.) pace of play, macro (games take too long)
3.) aesthetic (endless anonymous relievers, shifts, TTO baseball, players bringing reading material onto the field, pitchers hitting, pitchers not hitting, lollygagging, etc.)
4.) competitive (tanking, big revenue teams have a big competitive edge, etc. EDIT: things like service time shenanigans might fit in here)

It strikes me that #1 is easily solved by doing what they do in the minors: forcing batters to get in the box and stay there, and instituting a pitch clock. That should help with #2 as well, and might help a tiny bit with #3 as well (not so much time for max effort relievers to catch their breath between pitches, making crafty hurlers more valuable). Let that play for a year and see how it works out, and then we can start fighting about 2-4.
   4. BDC Posted: September 21, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5748686)
Banning Shifts - Sooner than later


Like many here, I can't see what problem this change addresses.

Major-league BAbip is .295 in 2018, down from .300 last year. But it's not like shifts started this year. Major-league BAbip has been cycling between .295 and .300 for the past 25 years, in a lazy sort of way – and it's not like five points of BAbip means a heck of a lot to the overall balance of the game in any event.

One thing that's changed since 2011 or so is that BAbip for RHB is now about the same as BAbip for LHB. BAbip for LHB had historically (except in the deadball 1960s) tended to be somewhat higher; now it's even. But overall it is the same; shifts are not strangling teams' offense.

Meanwhile, there have been big swings up, down, and then back up in HR over that same 25 years, and an increasing march of strikeout rates through the roof. Those are the big changes in style, and they have nothing to do with shifts.

Historically:

BAbip
2010s RHB .297 LHB .298
2000s RHB .296 LHB .301
1990s RHB .293 LHB .299
1980s RHB .282 LHB .288
1970s RHB .278 LHB .285
1960s RHB .275 LHB .276
1950s RHB .272 LHB .282
1940s RHB .271 LHB .284
1930s RHB .289 LHB .301
1920s RHB .290 LHB .301
   5. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5748725)
BDC - I agree, I really don't get the issue with the shifting but enough people are ######## about it that I expect it to happen. What did Smoltz say; "It's singlehandedly ruining the game" or something like that? I genuinely don't get that. As you note, BABIP isn't really being affected.

But I think it's going to happen.
   6. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5748727)
I think that baseball's "problems" (i.e., what people complain about; some of these are real problems, some of them aren't) can be broken into four broad categories:

1.) pace of play, micro (it takes too long from pitch to pitch)
2.) pace of play, macro (games take too long)
3.) aesthetic (endless anonymous relievers, shifts, TTO baseball, players bringing reading material onto the field, pitchers hitting, pitchers not hitting, lollygagging, etc.)
4.) competitive (tanking, big revenue teams have a big competitive edge, etc. EDIT: things like service time shenanigans might fit in here)


Baseball could address the vast majority of these "problems" with two very simple rule changes.

1. Add a visible pitch clock and make the batters get in the box.
2. Institute a soccer-style limited substitutions rule. Give a manager five (5) subs per game. After that he's out. He can use them any way he likes. PH, PR, defensive replacement, or relief pitching. But he just has five.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5748742)
I think that baseball's "problems" (i.e., what people complain about; some of these are real problems, some of them aren't) can be broken into four broad categories:

1.) pace of play, micro (it takes too long from pitch to pitch)
2.) pace of play, macro (games take too long)
3.) aesthetic (endless anonymous relievers, shifts, TTO baseball, players bringing reading material onto the field, pitchers hitting, pitchers not hitting, lollygagging, etc.)
4.) competitive (tanking, big revenue teams have a big competitive edge, etc. EDIT: things like service time shenanigans might fit in here)

It strikes me that #1 is easily solved by doing what they do in the minors: forcing batters to get in the box and stay there, and instituting a pitch clock. That should help with #2 as well, and might help a tiny bit with #3 as well (not so much time for max effort relievers to catch their breath between pitches, making crafty hurlers more valuable). Let that play for a year and see how it works out, and then we can start fighting about 2-4.


Agree 100%.

2. Institute a soccer-style limited substitutions rule. Give a manager five (5) subs per game. After that he's out. He can use them any way he likes. PH, PR, defensive replacement, or relief pitching. But he just has five.

I don't like this b/c it will effectively end pinch hitting and defensive replacements. Teams will save all 5 for pitching changes.

If you made it max of 3 pitching chances, and 3 other substitutions, I think it could work.

Your starter needs to go 6, or some RP needs to throw more than one inning. I think that's totally fair.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5748748)
There is a non-zero chance that MLB screws around and does something insanely stupid enough to blow the league up, isn't there?
I'm starting to get a little worried about this, honestly. It does seem plausible that they will do something completely dumb instead of just making the obvious, common-sense changes that need to be made.
   9. BDC Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5748751)
It’s time, {Smoltz} says, for teams to go back to playing the same schedule, eliminate interleague play …
“I don’t understand how a sport can play at least twice as many games as any other,’’ Smoltz says, “and not have the same schedule."


I've never been a great fan of interleague play, which I think took some of the fun out of the All-Star Game and World Series – but I'm well and truly used to it by now. And while perfectly symmetrical schedules are ideal I do not think that the slightly asymmetrical schedules matter much at all, precisely because baseball teams play so many games. The Rangers play the Astros 19 times; whether they play a game or two more or less against the Diamondbacks or the Rockies is trivial.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5748753)
(I suspect the Universal DH be the giveback by owners to offset that, the PA likes the higher paying DH job)


Is there any evidence of this? Not that it matters to your broader point, since people think all sorts of stuff about the DH without evidence.


   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:30 AM (#5748756)
I'm starting to get a little worried about this, honestly. It does seem plausible that they will do something completely dumb instead of just making the obvious, common-sense changes that need to be made.

I could live with one really dumb change (e.g. banning the shift) if they enforce pace of play, and do something to limit RPs.

And a split season is no dumber in principle than divisions. If you went back to two divisions, and did 1st half/2nd half winner go to playoffs, I think that would be an improvement. Win both halves, and you skip the first round.
   12. bfan Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5748761)
As you note, BABIP isn't really being affected.


Doesn't this assume all other things being equal, it is not impacted?

It seems counter-intuitive to me that people who spend their entire lives trying to figure out ways to be better (baseball front-office people), who are very smart, are directing and undertaking all of this shifting when it does NOT have any impact. Does that make sense to you all, because it does not, to me. Spare me the images of the guys in the room with Billy Beane in the movie "Moneyball"; that is not who is directing these tactical shifts.

What if BABIP should be increasing, because guys are swinging harder (more HRs and more strike-outs are the indication, here), leading to higher velocities on balls in play, that should be leading to more hits, but for the shifts. The shifts have suppressed BABIP because they have overcome the fact that balls are being hit harder, that under normal fielder positioning would have been hits. The pay-off for more strike-outs by hitters should be higher BABIP and more HRs.
   13. McCoy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5748763)
144 games in a season.
   14. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5748765)
I have a hard time seeing MLB institute a rule banning shifts. Historically, baseball has been very reluctant make changes governing the spatial relationships on the field. Basketball put in the key, changed illegal defense rules, and of course added the 3-point line. Even football has done things like moving the goal posts back. But baseball believes much more strongly in the perfection of its original game structure.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5748766)
144 games in a season.

OK, that's really dumb. How does that solve any of the complaints addressed above? More baseball is better. We just want that baseball not interrupted constantly by 45 seconds of dicking around.

It also would be a major cut to league revenue, so, again why?
   16. manchestermets Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:42 AM (#5748767)
2. Institute a soccer-style limited substitutions rule. Give a manager five (5) subs per game. After that he's out. He can use them any way he likes. PH, PR, defensive replacement, or relief pitching. But he just has five.

I don't like this b/c it will effectively end pinch hitting and defensive replacements. Teams will save all 5 for pitching changes.

If you made it max of 3 pitching chances, and 3 other substitutions, I think it could work.

Your starter needs to go 6, or some RP needs to throw more than one inning. I think that's totally fair.


Fine with this in principle, but presumably there'd be some extension of this in extra innings? I don't know, one more pitcher per 2 extra innings?
   17. McCoy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5748769)
Well, baseball moved the pitching rubber, removed the box, created a mound, added foul poles, removed objects and fans from the field of play.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5748772)
Fine with this in principle, but presumably there'd be some extension of this in extra innings? I don't know, one more pitcher per 2 extra innings?

Yes. I meant per 9 inning game. That addendum is fine. One additional move of each type allowed for every two extra innings.
   19. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5748778)
Well, baseball moved the pitching rubber, removed the box, created a mound, added foul poles, removed objects and fans from the field of play.


All done decades before there was an NFL or NBA.
   20. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5748780)

Is there any evidence of this? Not that it matters to your broader point, since people think all sorts of stuff about the DH without evidence.


No, there is no evidence. It's just a hunch on my part. I'm wrong often enough that I just roll with it now.
   21. Rally Posted: September 21, 2018 at 10:58 AM (#5748790)
Speaking of shifts, last night the Rays put an extreme shift on Justin Smoak. 4 outfielders and nobody at all on the 3B side of the infield. He showed bunt a few times but pulled it back before the pitch got there. Rays didn't buy it, they did not move the defense. Once he got to 2 strikes the bunt was no longer a threat and he ended up walking.

I did not see how the infield was set up when he hit his walkoff homer. The camera had just focused on Smoak after Gurriel's game tying homer when Justin homered on the first pitch.

For the night Smoak had a homer, a walk, two strikeouts, and an unassisted ground out to first. The shift was completely irrelevant to all of that.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5748792)
Speaking of shifts, last night the Rays put an extreme shift on Justin Smoak. 4 outfielders and nobody at all on the 3B side of the infield. He showed bunt a few times but pulled it back before the pitch got there. Rays didn't buy it, they did not move the defense. Once he got to 2 strikes the bunt was no longer a threat and he ended up walking.

You would think every team would have their LHBs practicing slapping a ground ball the other way, every day in batting practice.

The defense is offering you a gift.
   23. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:04 AM (#5748798)
I remember when people used to enjoy baseball, not just talk about all the ways they hate it.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5748802)
I remember when people could tell the difference between hating something and enjoying it but realizing it could be better.
   25. , Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5748805)
I don't see the sub rule working. There are nights when a starting pitcher legitimately doesn't have it and teams really do need many pitchers to get through the game. There have always been such games. Not allowing subs in those situations risks injury. Late inning defensive substitutions have always been there, as well.

Also, the soccer rule has no exception for injury. So when the catcher takes a foul tip of the throat after the last sub you want 8 men on the field and the second baseman catching?

I'd do this: Teams get 4 mid-inning subs per game. That counts all PH, PR and pitching changes. Any player removed from the game after a HBP or who goes immediately on the 10 day DL is excepted.
   26. , Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5748808)
But, basically, I don't mind the subs. I mean, I'd prefer starters go deeper but that ship has sailed. The only change they really need to make me happy is pace of play. There are a lot of things I might prefer get tweaked but that opens up things I enjoy to the tweaking of others. The game is great, it just moves too slow (and not slow for today's attention span but historically slow - no one in 1920 had four and a half hours for a game.
   27. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5748821)
All of this is so frustrating. The dominant problem baseball has is the length of time between pitches. It's second-biggest problem, far behind the #1 problem, is the number of pitching changes that occur in a game.

These two problems are responsible for the slow pace of play, and the excessive length of most games.

Changing pitchers between innings is not a problem - there is no extra time expended when a pitcher enters a game to start an inning.

Besides strictly enforcing a between-pitches timer, the only other change I'd make is a limit to how many mid-inning pitching changes a team can make per game.

I'd be curious to see how many mid-inning pitching changes are made per game, on average, in 2018, and how that number has changed over the past several decades.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5748823)
I don't see the sub rule working. There are nights when a starting pitcher legitimately doesn't have it and teams really do need many pitchers to get through the game.

That's only because of the choices teams make to carry no long relievers. Teams used to be much more likely to pull a starter who "didn't have it" even in the first, second, or third.

That was back when they had 10 man pitching staffs, so there was no parade of 7 RPs to finish the game. One long guy came in and gave you 3-6 IP in relief.

If this rule was in place, every team would carry at least 2 long relievers who could give you 3-5 IP.

Not allowing subs in those situations risks injury.

If a pitcher can't throw 3 innings without hurting himself, he doesn't belong in MLB.

But, I'd be willing to offer an additional injury substitution. But the injured player must go on the DL for a minimum of 15 days.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5748825)
All of this is so frustrating. The dominant problem baseball has is the length of time between pitches. It's second-biggest problem, far behind the #1 problem, is the number of pitching changes that occur in a game.

These two problems are responsible for the slow pace of play, and the excessive length of most games.

Changing pitchers between innings is not a problem - there is no extra time expended when a pitcher enters a game to start an inning.


Right, but TTO baseball is a close third. The rise of the bullpen full of 95 MPH, one inning relievers, is a major contributor to TTO. Their K-rates are extraordinary.
   30. dlf Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:37 AM (#5748832)
Personally, I don't mind the difference in time in between pitches, but between something happening in addition to the pitcher-batter battle. There was a site somewhere that was tracking the time not between pitches but between balls being put into play. Now I can't find it. Anyone remember where that was located?

I'm genuinely curious why people think that having a 5 inning start with 2 relievers getting the final four IP is better than a 5 inning start with 4 relievers each getting an inning. I wish we could see starters going longer, but that is a 100 year old trend in motion. I don't however, really care how many relievers come on after that, especially since we aren't seeing an increase in fractional innings and, if memory is correct, we have actually seen a decrease in the number of LOOGY types who only pitch to 1-2 batters.
   31. Buck Coats Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:37 AM (#5748833)
Talking about baseball is ruining baseball
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5748842)
I'm genuinely curious why people think that having a 5 inning start with 2 relievers getting the final four IP is better than a 5 inning start with 4 relievers each getting an inning.

Because you'd get more diverse RPs who know how to pitch, and lower K-rates. And each RP would be more important. The parade of homogeneous RH RPs who throw 95 with a slider, and nothing else, is boring.
   33. RoyalFlush Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5748852)
Right, but TTO baseball is a close third. The rise of the bullpen full of 95 MPH, one inning relievers, is a major contributor to TTO. Their K-rates are extraordinary.


I think the managers would just use the hard throwers for 2 innings per appearance and maybe not use on multiple days as often. Not sure that would bring down the K Rates or effect pace of play in any noticeable way.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 11:55 AM (#5748856)
I think the managers would just use the hard throwers for 2 innings per appearance and maybe not use on multiple days as often. Not sure that would bring down the K Rates or effect pace of play in any noticeable way.

If you made them throw 40 pitches per outing, with only 12 seconds between pitches, I'm pretty sure velocity would come down.
   35. puck Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5748862)
bfan's #12 comment was interesting.

I suppose in the end I find that BABIP numbers overall has not been hugely affected to be more persuasive. I don't have a problem with shifts, and I have no idea what is people's problem with it. If the argument is that it's been strangling offense, that seems at odds with the BABIP numbers.

For me, pace of play is the biggest problem. Making the batter stay in the box would help. I don't know about limiting pitching changes...how often do mid-inning changes happen? Limit them to one per half inning so you can't pull the righty, put in a loogy for one batter, than pull him? You could still end up with a change per half inning in the last 2-3 innings of a playoff game, but that's a decent compromise.

I don't like TTO baseball and all the strikeouts that much either. However, is that a widespread enough dislike to makes rules to change it? I think pace of play and game length are problems for more people. It might be very hard to legislate away TTO ball without making something else much worse. I guess you could make the bat handles thicker, but in the short run things get worse as there are even more strikeouts until batters adjust or different players come up out of the minors.
   36. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:07 PM (#5748865)
I watched the Mets/Nationals game last night. It went 12, but the Mets struck out 19 times, the Nationals 14. Scherzer went 7 innings, but the Nationals used 6 relievers. The Mets also used 7 pitchers. It got boring when the Nats were switching pitchers in mid inning. I was Tivoing it, so I would switch to something else and then go back and catch up.
   37. puck Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5748872)
So in TFA all Smoltz's is quoted as saying is that “I think [shifts are] single-handedly killing the game." Gee, do you think that would have been worth a follow up question?

Found this article in the MN Star Tribune, where Michael Rand says:

But the consequences of the shift — some intended, some not — are not aesthetically pleasing. The MLB walk rate is higher when shifts are employed. And entering the weekend, the cumulative batting average in baseball was just .245 — a number that, over a full season, would be the lowest in almost 50 years. Shifts certainly are influencing that number.


The BABIP data seems to contradict that, unless he's trying to imply that the shift led to batters turning to TTO baseball. Seems like they came from the same place, the spreadsheet nerds who are ruining baseball!
   38. McCoy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:14 PM (#5748874)
I was Tivoing it,

There's one of the problems. We no longer have to invest as much into the game as we once did. Once upon a time the Giants coming to town was a big deal because that was pretty much the only time you would get to see Willie Mays play. So you'd watch the whole thing because Willie might do something.

You'd watch the whole game and as many as you could because if you missed the game you might not get to see another for awhile and you'd get about 30 seconds worth of clips about the game during the nightly news if you were lucky.

Nowadays you've got Sportscenter, MLB channel, youtube, online clips, streaming radio and channels, if the game is getting a bit boring you can fast forward it. You can record a game and watch it if something exciting happened or skip it entirely if it is a ho-hum 4-2 game. We just don't have to invest as much in the games and thus we don't have to commit as much to the game.
   39. . Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5748898)
I would support the split schedule and am pretty sure I brought it up as an idea a few years ago. Banning shifts at this point is a virtual no-brainer.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5748902)
Huh, I had no idea John Smoltz posts here.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:50 PM (#5748906)
The split schedule would be bad as a mechanism to enlarge the playoffs. But, as an alternative to 8 divisions after expansion, I think it has merit.

I'd much rather have 4 8-team division, first and second half winners go to playoff, than have 8 4-team divisions, where winners advance.

Much less chance of a 75 win team sneaking into the playoffs, or a 95 win team going home early.
   42. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5748918)
So in TFA all Smoltz's is quoted as saying is that “I think [shifts are] single-handedly killing the game." Gee, do you think that would have been worth a follow up question?


I agree, I RTFA and found that line pretty stunning. So what exactly is it about shifts that is "single handedly killing the game" and if they are 100% responsible than maybe his half brained "play two halfs" idea isn't needed?

In general his complaints about the schedule are his strongest imo. I think that fans are "sick" of playing in the division so much. I think most fans are over intraleague and in most cases the "natural rival" bullshit. The Padres and the Mariners really have nothing in common (or against each other) other than playing in MLB and being on the Pacific coast.

I'd like to see the balanced schedule return and with it a return to "east" and "west" divisions within each league. Top 3 teams each make the the playoffs, the league winners get a by into the 2nd round. If you want to expand the playoffs eventually go ahead, but for now top 3 in each division make it.
   43. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5748919)
I'd much rather have 4 8-team division, first and second half winners go to playoff, than have 8 4-team divisions, where winners advance.

I would rather has no divisions, but let 6 teams in the playoffs for each league. Top 2 teams get a bye. The next 4 play a 3 game playoff.

If you want to go back to 2 divisions per league, that would be better than what they have. Same format. Division winner gets a bye. Next 4 teams play a 3 game playoff.
   44. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 21, 2018 at 12:58 PM (#5748920)
I don't like this b/c it will effectively end pinch hitting and defensive replacements. Teams will save all 5 for pitching changes.


It would drastically limit *OOGy types of pitchers. You'd see guys facing one batter and then being subbed out virtually disappear. It would also make managers think long and hard about bringing in Random 95 MPH w/ a slider RHP to get out of an inning if that guy had to bat (or burn another sub) in the next frame.

I am fine with giving an extra sub per 2 extra innings.

*EDIT* also, any change of this magnitude would almost certainly be paired with a universal DH, which would make the pinch hitting issue less problematic.
   45. Rally Posted: September 21, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5748926)
Seems like they came from the same place, the spreadsheet nerds who are ruining baseball!


It might have come from us spreadsheet nerds, but the truth is that in today's baseball environment you score more runs playing TTO baseball than you would by trying to play contact hitting speedsters like Willie McGee and Vince Coleman. You can bash the nerds out of the game but this truth cannot be unlearned.

Only way to change this is to change the baseball environment to put TTO baseball at a disadvantage. Like increasing the distance to the OF fences and providing more outfield territory for the contact hitters to find base hits.
   46. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 21, 2018 at 01:19 PM (#5748948)
Speaking of shifts, last night the Rays put an extreme shift on Justin Smoak. 4 outfielders and nobody at all on the 3B side of the infield. He showed bunt a few times but pulled it back before the pitch got there. Rays didn't buy it, they did not move the defense. Once he got to 2 strikes the bunt was no longer a threat and he ended up walking.


One thing I noticed at the last Cubs game that I attended in person (you can't really see this sort of thing via TV) is that the Cubs fairly frequently only shifted with two strikes. Several times in the game, when the opposing batter got two strikes on him, the third baseman ran over to play short right field. Made a lot of sense to me.

As for shifts, as others have noted, the data just aren't there that this is making a radical change in outcomes (as opposed to the ever-increasing number of strikeouts). But having watched baseball games for 40 years, it's a little jarring that plays that have historically been hits - sharp ground ball past the pitcher, sharp grounder in the "hole" between the first and second baseman - are now routine outs. But that's just my problem and I'll eventually get used to the new reality - and, for that matter, such things only annoy me when they deny hits to the team I'm rooting for; the other half of the time, I'm pleasantly surprised that my team had the foresight to put a fielder in the right place and "steal" an out.
   47. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 21, 2018 at 01:36 PM (#5748967)

One thing I noticed at the last Cubs game that I attended in person (you can't really see this sort of thing via TV) is that the Cubs fairly frequently only shifted with two strikes. Several times in the game, when the opposing batter got two strikes on him, the third baseman ran over to play short right field. Made a lot of sense to me.


This or a variant of it seems to happen regularly. Teams clearly want to take away the bunt but with two strikes figure the player won't bunt so they go to the full on shift.
   48. McCoy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 01:48 PM (#5748989)
Only way to change this is to change the baseball environment to put TTO baseball at a disadvantage.

Or to make small ballers so cheap that you can build a team cheaply and easily with them as compared to TTO hitters. There is no reason that a team that could find some versions of 2003 Scott Podsednik to fill out there roster wouldn't win a bunch of games.
   49. The Run Fairy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 01:53 PM (#5748998)
Speaking of shifts, last night the Rays put an extreme shift on Justin Smoak. 4 outfielders and nobody at all on the 3B side of the infield. He showed bunt a few times but pulled it back before the pitch got there. Rays didn't buy it, they did not move the defense. Once he got to 2 strikes the bunt was no longer a threat and he ended up walking.

I did not see how the infield was set up when he hit his walkoff homer. The camera had just focused on Smoak after Gurriel's game tying homer when Justin homered on the first pitch.


I was at the game, they did the usual shift (four infielders, a guy playing in shallow RF) on his last two ABs. I found it fun to watch live. The IF/OF ran out to the Rays bullpen, tossed his IF glove over the wall, had them throw him an OF glove, then ran out to his position. Rays outfielders were also using positioning cheat sheets that they kept in their back pockets.
   50. Ziggy's screen name Posted: September 21, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5749012)
So when the catcher takes a foul tip of the throat after the last sub you want 8 men on the field and the second baseman catching?


Only when there's a runner on. With nobody on obviously you play without the catcher. The umpire might not appreciate it though.
   51. McCoy Posted: September 21, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5749015)
In soccer if you're out of subs and someone gets hurt you play a man down. Don't see why you can't do that for baseball.
   52. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 21, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5749032)
So when the catcher takes a foul tip of the throat after the last sub you want 8 men on the field and the second baseman catching?


I'm not sure I'm completely sold on limiting the number of substitutions (although this would actually be a step back toward how baseball was originally played back in the 1870s or so - substitutions weren't allowed except for injury, so the convention was to play your potential relief pitcher in right field). But one solution to this would be to allow extra substitutions in the case of injury with the caveat that the injured player has to go on the disabled list as a way to limit teams trying to game the system.
   53. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: September 21, 2018 at 02:53 PM (#5749048)
I’d be fine with a limited substitution rule,but you’d accomplish the same thing (the death of the one-batter reliever) more simply with a rule that you can’t remove a pitcher mid-inning unless he’s given up a run during the inning.

I don’t think it’s realistic to get back to complete games being a thing, much as I personally would like to. But we can at least quit making fans sit through pitching change after pitching change during close games. Want to bring in a fresh pitcher every inning, fine—just don’t waste a million people’s time doing it. Do it between innings.
   54. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 21, 2018 at 03:06 PM (#5749058)
But one solution to this would be to allow extra substitutions in the case of injury with the caveat that the injured player has to go on the disabled list as a way to limit teams trying to game the system.


Yeah. This was my general solution to injuries after subs are exhausted. They manager can choose to either put the DH into the field defensively (this wouldn't be a sub in my world) and play a man down (i.e. the pitcher hits for himself) there on out. Or they could use an injury sub and that player would have to go on the 10-day DL immediately.
   55. BrianBrianson Posted: September 21, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5749070)
Probably, just enforce the pitch clock, and see if there's still any issue when it's done.

Maybe, push for new/renovated parks to be forced to have a bit more outfield space.
   56. Rally Posted: September 21, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5749093)
Or to make small ballers so cheap that you can build a team cheaply and easily with them as compared to TTO hitters. There is no reason that a team that could find some versions of 2003 Scott Podsednik to fill out there roster wouldn't win a bunch of games.


If there were a bunch of cheap Pod people who could hit 314/379/443 (116 OPS+) and go 43/53 on the bases you would score a lot of runs. That was the best season of his career. If he could do that every year, he wouldn't be Scott Podsednick, he'd be Johnny Damon, and no longer cheap.

If you seek out cheap Pod people to fill your lineup you would end up with players who look like the rest of Pod's career, and that isn't going to win you many games. Pod's career OPS+ was 88. The 2018 KC Royals have an OPS+ of 91.
   57. SandyRiver Posted: September 21, 2018 at 03:41 PM (#5749106)
IMO, #55 is the KISS-principle answer, and enforcing the pitch clock the obvious first step.

#41: If/when MLB expands to 32 teams, 4 8-team divisions is my preferred arrangement. However, I'm not a fan of split schedule, would rather have the top 2 in each division make the PS. Winningest #1 plays losingest #2, even if they're in the same division.
   58. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 21, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5749113)
Maybe, push for new/renovated parks to be forced to have a bit more outfield space.


And more foul ground.
   59. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: September 21, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5749143)
I think it may actually be a good long-term move, once the majors expand to 32 teams, to turn back the clock and go back to two completely separate leagues, geographically separated, which never play one another except in the All-Star Game and the World Series.

You have to make some tough judgment calls on which midwestern teams to send in which direction, but aside from those edge cases you can make two 16 team leagues mostly divided by the Mississippi. Assuming both expansion teams would go west, then you need to send 4 of the 10 current Central Division teams west with them: Kansas City, Minneapolis, and probably Milwaukee and Cincinnati, or Milwaukee and one of the Chicago teams (or just both of the Chicago teams). Yes, you end up with both New York teams and both L.A. teams in the same league. That's fine. We'll live.

Then each league can divvy up its teams however it wants. I really think eight team divisions and no playoffs except the LCS would work better than most modern minds appreciate. Pennant races were exciting. Still are; ask a soccer fan. And in the digital age even fans of the also-rans still can, and still would, watch the important pennant-race games in September--probably in similar or better numbers to how they watch playoff games today.

I think this is something baseball could creditably do--hearkening back to its own heritage--and something it could do to make itself different, distinctive, from all other sports, in what may well prove to be a good way.
   60. BDC Posted: September 21, 2018 at 05:00 PM (#5749161)
There's a reason split schedules are associated with bush leagues: they're bush-league.

I don't know what Smoltz is imagining, exactly – he's more likely just trolling – but if you went to a 1981 setup regularly, four divisions / eight playoff teams, you'd have four teams every year with nothing to play for after the All-Star Break. That kind of worked in '81 because the All-Star Break lasted two months, and it would have meant even more teams with nothing to play for if they'd resumed with the standings as they were in June. They had to do something half-###ed no matter what.

But if you made it a standard thing, what does a first-half champion do? Play for the division title and bye right from the start? OK, but what if you languish around .500 by mid-August and are looking up at several other teams. Then you have the integrity of a bunch of games in question, because it is not in the clinchers' interest to do anything to jeopardize their playoff chances, and it isn't fair to make them take heroic measures. Of course, if the second-half race is tight and you have a chance at the bye with one series to play, you go for it. But eight games back with ten to play, or eight games back with 40 to play for that matter, you start setting things up for the playoffs.

You might say, well, some teams have a big league by August already … but they still have to keep that lead. They can't coast till they've clinched, and it's actually a bit unusual for teams to clinch as early as the Red Sox and Indians did this year. In a split-season, four teams always clinch in early July (or earlier!) That is a really bad idea.

Though I sense I am preaching to the choir :)



   61. . Posted: September 21, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5749166)
Answer is easy — give a big playoff leg up to a team that wins both halves.

Problem solved.
   62. BDC Posted: September 21, 2018 at 05:28 PM (#5749189)
give a big playoff leg up to a team that wins both halves


That sounds like it would work, but with every incentive in the world, good teams still hit stretches where they go cold. Heck, the 101-win eventual World Champion Astros last year went 11-17 in August. Suppose a first-half winner goes 11-17 in July? The leg up can be as big as you like, but they still might decide that putting their guaranteed spot on ice is the best strategy.

A lot of teams, as it is, obviously have nothing to play for in September (or August or earlier), but their players do. If you split the season, you have a situation where a whole team not only has nothing to play for, but an actual incentive to be indifferent.

I am also not sure if a playoff routine that includes contingent byes is feasible. Built-in byes, as in the NFL playoffs, are fine. But what if you've got a four-series first round and you do not know, with two weeks left in a season, whether you're going to play any of those series? That sounds weird to me. And I don't know what other kind of "leg up" you can offer, other than a bye. Start a first-round series up 2 games to zero with invisible runners in every inning and the other team not wearing pants?
   63. Srul Itza Posted: September 21, 2018 at 05:37 PM (#5749199)
Win both halves, and you skip the first round.


And an entire round of play-off games goes away.

I don't see it. Play-offs are money makers, and TV schedules are built around them.
   64. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 21, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5749206)
Enforce the time clock and you could shave 35 unnecessary minutes from the average game.
Time between pitches is the primary villain. I tallied up all the pitches in both games that we’ll call inaction pitches — pitches that resulted in a ball, called strike, or swinging strike, but didn’t result in the end of an at-bat or the advancement of a runner. These are the pitches where the catcher caught the ball and threw it back to the pitcher, whose next step was to throw it back to the catcher. Foul balls didn’t count. The fourth ball of a plate appearance didn’t count. Stolen bases didn’t count. Wild pitches didn’t count. Just the pitches where contact wasn’t made, and the pitcher received a return throw from the catcher.

There were 146 inaction pitches in the 1984 game.

There were 144 of these pitches in the 2014 game.

The total time for the inaction pitches in 1984 — the elapsed time between a pitcher releasing one pitch and his release of the next pitch — was 32 minutes and 47 seconds.

The total time for inaction pitches in 2014 was 57 minutes and 41 seconds.

This is how a game can have an almost identical number of pitches thrown, batters faced, baserunners, hits, walks, strikeouts, and runs scored compared to another game, yet take more than a half-hour longer. This, plus the modest difference in commercial breaks, explains nearly everything. It took nine seconds longer for a pitcher to get rid of the ball in 2014.

In the 1984 game, there were 70 inaction pitches that were returned to the pitcher and thrown back to the plate within 15 seconds.

In the 2014 game, there were 10.

In the 1984 game, there were 32 balls, called strikes, or swinging strikes that took 20 seconds or more between pitches

In 2014, there were 87 balls, called strikes, or swinging strikes that took 20 seconds or more between pitches.

That’s it. That’s the secret. It isn’t just the commercials. It isn’t just the left-handed pitchers coming in to face one batter, even though that absolutely makes a huge difference in the games when that does happen.

Add RoboUmps to call balls and strikes and 90% of what's wrong with baseball would be fixed.

And if you want to go for broke, have batting coaches teach their hitters to go with the pitch instead of trying to pull everything and wind up hitting feeble ground balls.
   65. Srul Itza Posted: September 21, 2018 at 05:53 PM (#5749208)
I could live with:

Pitch clock and automatic strikes if the batter steps out so long as the pitcher delivers the ball.
Limit pitcher changes so that a pitcher has to pitch to at least 2 or 3 batters.

   66. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2018 at 06:15 PM (#5749221)
I could live with:

Pitch clock and automatic strikes if the batter steps out so long as the pitcher delivers the ball.
Limit pitcher changes so that a pitcher has to pitch to at least 2 or 3 batters.


If a team was limited to three pitching changes, that would make the game unwatchable for you?
   67. RMc's Daps of the Dope Artists Posted: September 21, 2018 at 08:23 PM (#5749269)
Time between pitches is the primary villain

Bingo. That's how we got from 1.5 minutes per event (AB+BB+side changes+pitching changes) to 2.5 MPE. That's why Game 7 of the 1960 WS took 2:36 to play, and last night's Yankees-Red Sox game...is still going on, actually.
   68. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 22, 2018 at 07:06 AM (#5749414)
The story linked to in #64 was really enjoyable, and gets at the problem: time between pitches. Also, the commentary about 80s baseball, Harry Carey, etc., is a lot of fun...
   69. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 22, 2018 at 07:43 AM (#5749419)
The American League wild card race has been over for months.

Exaggeration. "Months" implies more than one. Two months ago (July 20), the Mariners had the second wild-card spot, and the A's were 4 games back. One month ago (Aug. 20), the Astros and A's were tied for first (and the second wild card), and the Mariners were just 3.5 games out (of first place and the second wild card). As late as Sept. 1, the Mariners were 4.5 games out of the wild card.

The AL wild card race has really been "over" for about two weeks.
   70. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: September 22, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5749463)
Not sure it’s been raised but one problem with the split schedule is that you run the risk of a first half champion throwing games. The Red Sox win the first half title and know they play either Tampa or New York in the first round. Is there an incentive for them to start tanking in the second half?
   71. Howie Menckel Posted: September 22, 2018 at 11:51 AM (#5749467)
But having watched baseball games for 40 years, it's a little jarring that plays that have historically been hits - sharp ground ball past the pitcher, sharp grounder in the "hole" between the first and second baseman - are now routine outs.

well, the reason that the numbers haven't changed due to all the shifts is that about as many balls are routine groundouts to SS that become singles because no one is playing SS.

I'd get rid of shifts not because they work, but because - net - they don't. it's overmanaging in the same way that the number of relievers is - which also is annoying btw.
   72. , Posted: September 22, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5749477)
That's my biggest gripe with the shift. I no longer know off the bat what is a hit and what is a routine ground ball. Of course, if the broadcasters would show you more than the pitcher and catcher and batter at the time of the pitch, you'd know these things.
   73. John DiFool2 Posted: September 22, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5749524)
IIRC it was a recent FG article that showed that BABIP for lefties is now even with that for righties, when historically the lefties have had an advantage (c. 5-8 points). Now, I am not one of those silly anti-shift people, and people have indeed overstated the shift's significance, but it has had an effect.
   74. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: September 22, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5749543)
100% support #64. Enforce keeping batters in the box and pitchers pitching. Robo-umps behind the plate for balls/strikes and whatnot.

Limiting substitutions is really really bad. Like, terribly awful. A 25 man roster has already established the limits for substitutions. Let's not get carried away here. Shifts....ban shifts? Also incredibly awful. Yikes. . It's become a sport that people apparently feel entitled to tailor to their own specific tastes now. Like they should be able to customize it to fit THEIR idea of proper "aesthetics". "I don't like strikeouts and BABIP is too low, BAN EVERYTHING THAT CAN POTENTIALLY HAVE AN EFFECT ON THIS NOW!" That's....just too much for me. The game will always evolve and change and swing one way or the other (Deadball Era, Slugging Era, etc) and that is a good thing. (And yes, I get that some are saying there is room for improvement....but if your suggestion is to outright ban or eliminate something entirely like substitutions/shifts, that's more of an overreaction to current climate of the game than an "improvement" and it may be tough to convince me otherwise)

Think of the logic being used. If enough people hate stolen bases and they make a comeback, are we seriously going to entertain the idea of implementing rules/limitations to curtail them? If folks start saying that Homeruns take too long to play out, are we gonna rally for a rule to say that each team can only have 2 then each HR after that is only a double because it's more aesthetically pleasing to see runners on and RBI's in the stat column!? At this point, it's just really horrible to even fathom some of these suggestions and the logic behind them. Holy hell.

Fix pace of play by addressing....the pace of the players. Period. Pitchers keep pitching and hitters stay in the box. Roboump strikezone. Simple.
   75. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5749576)
It's become a sport that people apparently feel entitled to tailor to their own specific tastes now. Like they should be able to customize it to fit THEIR idea of proper "aesthetics".

Yes. It's entertainment. It should be managed by the leg to maximize the entertainment value.

That's....just too much for me. The game will always evolve and change and swing one way or the other (Deadball Era, Slugging Era, etc) and that is a good thing.

I disagree. A return to 1968 offensive levels would be awful.
   76. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: September 22, 2018 at 10:09 PM (#5749784)
Yes. It's entertainment. It should be managed by the leg to maximize the entertainment value.


You have missed the point, clearly.

Yes, entertainment should have it's value maximized.

You do NOT achieve this by overreacting to everything and attempting to tailor to very specific tastes that are not in the majority.

Not everyone feels the knee-jerk need to ban everything that they don't find appealing. I think there is room for reasonable solutions to the idea that the game takes longer than it should (most people agree to this), that do not include reactionary measures like bans on defensive alignments/limiting substitutions even further/forcing pitchers to face a set amount of batters/etc (areas where the majority obviously does NOT agree).

People that like baseball, like baseball. They just want it to move along quicker. Cool. People that find that the literal sight of a defensive alignment not being uniform to how they feel it should be aligned is now somehow detracting from their ability to experience the game though....maybe they're actually more into art and would be better served viewing paintings and photos than a live game? Seems....a really weird thing to harp on. For a baseball fan. To each their own and all.

   77. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2018 at 11:03 PM (#5749807)
You have missed the point, clearly.

Yes, entertainment should have it's value maximized.

You do NOT achieve this by overreacting to everything and attempting to tailor to very specific tastes that are not in the majority.

Not everyone feels the knee-jerk need to ban everything that they don't find appealing. I think there is room for reasonable solutions to the idea that the game takes longer than it should (most people agree to this), that do not include reactionary measures like bans on defensive alignments/limiting substitutions even further/forcing pitchers to face a set amount of batters/etc (areas where the majority obviously does NOT agree).

People that like baseball, like baseball. They just want it to move along quicker. Cool. People that find that the literal sight of a defensive alignment not being uniform to how they feel it should be aligned is now somehow detracting from their ability to experience the game though....maybe they're actually more into art and would be better served viewing paintings and photos than a live game? Seems....a really weird thing to harp on. For a baseball fan. To each their own and all.


I don't feel strongly either way about the shift. Ban it, don't ban it, won't affect my enjoyment one iota.

All I'm saying is that if the majority of fans prefer no shift, there should be no shift. Again, it's entertainment.

My desire is no more than 15 seconds between pitches, get the damn game over in 2:30. After that, increase the number of balls in play.

I don't care how drastic the rules have to be to achieve that. Just do it. If it ruins players' careers, I don't care. If Mike Trout. Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, and Manny Machao would all hit .200/.250/.300 without being able to collect themmselves and refasten their batting gloves between pitches, the sooner they are out of the game, the better.
   78. PreservedFish Posted: September 23, 2018 at 06:27 AM (#5749836)
All I'm saying is that if the majority of fans prefer no shift, there should be no shift. Again, it's entertainment.


I agree with Poster Nutbag. Simple majority rules is a horrible way to run a sports league. There's no telling what stupid things the majority of fans would prefer. The majority of fans would probably have banned suspected steroid users, or dismantled the Yankees, or whatever stupid ####. If you told me that the vast majority of fans prefer no shift, or the majority of fans despise the shift, then I'd think about it.

Also, the fact that it would be hellaciously complex to institute a ban on the shift is meaningful. Despite the fact that shifts were never commonly employed, they are clearly allowed by rules which have stood in place for a century. It's not easy to just undo them. MLB is also likely to be terrible about implementing it and terrible about anticipating loopholes. If you say that teams need to have at least three fielders on each side of the field, you know we'll end up with some newly bizarre situation where the 3B straddles second base, the CF stands 50 feet behind him, and the LF is in some strange infield/outfield position.
   79. bfan Posted: September 23, 2018 at 08:53 AM (#5749842)
. If you say that teams need to have at least three fielders on each side of the field, you know we'll end up with some newly bizarre situation where the 3B straddles second base, the CF stands 50 feet behind him, and the LF is in some strange infield/outfield position.


I agree that no rule can be drafted well enough that a smart group of people cannot figure out ways to get around it, at least at the margin. And with this belief, are you one who believes the shifts have no actual effect?

I am repeating myself, but it seems as if a lot of smart people whose job it is to make teams better came up with this shifting. Then, one guy (from USA Today?) wrote an article that shifting was making no difference, and everyone bought that.

Given my instincts, I will go with the smart guys with the charts who spend their days figuring this out, and have incentives to win.
   80. BDC Posted: September 23, 2018 at 09:34 AM (#5749844)
are you one who believes the shifts have no actual effect?


But it's not a matter of belief. The data in #4 shows that BAbip by LHB in the 2010s is about where it was in the 1990s, and almost as high as it was in the 1930s.

Your point in #12 makes sense (maybe LHB BAbip would have gone way up but for shifts), but the warrant there is that we'd want it to. Let's say LHB have become increasingly terrifying to pitchers, and defenses have adapted to keep the game in balance. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? To say it's a bad thing is to advocate for a lot more offense by LHB, which is arguable, I guess, if a bit esoteric.

Here's another table, more detailed, for the 2010s. The effect of a narrowed gap between RHB and LHB BAbip is real, and it seems reasonable to attribute it to increased shifting in the past 6-7 years:

Split    Year BAbip
vs RHB   2018  .296
vs RHB   2017  .300
vs RHB   2016  .302
vs RHB   2015  .299
vs RHB   2014  .300
vs RHB   2013  .297
vs RHB   2012  .296
vs RHB   2011  .291
vs RHB   2010  .294
                 
Split    Year BAbip
vs LHB   2018  .295
vs LHB   2017  .299
vs LHB   2016  .298
vs LHB   2015  .299
vs LHB   2014  .297
vs LHB   2013  .298
vs LHB   2012  .298
vs LHB   2011  .299
vs LHB   2010  .301 


Both dropped in 2018, but I don't see how shifting could be to blame for the RHB drop, unless there's suddenly been a lot of shifting the other way (I haven't noticed it, though don't see enough games to opine).

Meanwhile, right through the period 2012-17 when shifting became common, BAbip RHB rose while BAbip by LHB stayed about the same. I will accept that it staying about the same is the result of intervention by defenses, but what I don't quite understand is why the same result as before is a bad thing. A sport staying in balance via new strategies is just as natural as any other outcome. You're right, these guys are smart.

Now, maybe if BAbip by LHB had plummeted to .133 or something, we'd have a crisis. And possibly the use of shifts has led to more TTO offensive thinking, more working of counts and launch-angle theory, and thus obliquely affected strikeout and HR variation (though that really is an oblique suggestion).

I just don't see how shifting as practiced constitutes a crisis.
   81. , Posted: September 23, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5749846)
My desire is no more than 15 seconds between pitches, get the damn game over in 2:30. After that, increase the number of balls in play.

A pedantic point but, if there were no more than 15 seconds between pitches and a lot (relative to today) of balls in play, I wouldn't care if the game went four hours. It would be rare and probably the sign of a wild and crazy, and very entertaining, game.

Also, here's the thing, baseball fans and its writers ##### about the game. They always have, they always will. If snapper were somehow appointed commissioner in the style of Landis, he would change all these things. At that point, we'd all - including snapper - start ######## about something else. It's who we are.
   82. PreservedFish Posted: September 23, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5749854)
I agree that no rule can be drafted well enough that a smart group of people cannot figure out ways to get around it, at least at the margin. And with this belief, are you one who believes the shifts have no actual effect?


I don't know or care about their actual effect. The shifts are within the rules and they're not unfair in any way. The only thing I do know is that their effect is not large enough to rewrite the rulebook.

I needn't add anything to BDC's #80. "Now, maybe if BAbip by LHB had plummeted to .133 or something, we'd have a crisis."

I also happen to think they're awfully fun and creative and add strategic interest to the game. I am glad that they disproportionally victimize the Chris Davises, and that they promote defensive versatility. I like everything about them, to be honest.
   83. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 23, 2018 at 11:01 AM (#5749860)
A pedantic point but, if there were no more than 15 seconds between pitches and a lot (relative to today) of balls in play, I wouldn't care if the game went four hours. It would be rare and probably the sign of a wild and crazy, and very entertaining, game.

I agree. It's not the length of the games per se that's the problem, it's the unnecessary amount of dead time that causes the games to drag on so long. And as that article I linked to in #64 proves rather conclusively, the primary villain is all that stalling in between pitches. Put in a strictly enforced time clock and you'd immediately see a big improvement.
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5749866)
I agree with Poster Nutbag. Simple majority rules is a horrible way to run a sports league. There's no telling what stupid things the majority of fans would prefer.

I'm not saying we take a poll. I'm saying MLB, as an entertainment business (first, last and only that's what it is) should react if they find their audience in general dislikes aspects of the game, and that is hurting viewership and revenue.
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5749871)
A pedantic point but, if there were no more than 15 seconds between pitches and a lot (relative to today) of balls in play, I wouldn't care if the game went four hours. It would be rare and probably the sign of a wild and crazy, and very entertaining, game.

Sure. An occasional 4 hour game because it's 11-10 with 20 men LOB, is fine, even desirable.

The average should be 2:30. But significant variation is OK. A 1-0 game with 6 total base runners, would be 1:45 or 2:00.
   86. Toby Posted: September 23, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5749977)
I would love to see a baseball league - probably an independent minor league, or perhaps a college league - experiment with a 3-ball walk, 2-strike strikeout rule, probably along with a robot strike zone (because a strictly objective strike zone probably becomes more important with fewer pitches per at bat.

In fact, for those leagues that have that rule about “if we are playing a doubleheader, we play only 7 innings each game,” I’d like to see that changed to “if we play a doubleheader, we start each at bat with a 1-1 count.” Just to see how it plays out.

   87. PreservedFish Posted: September 23, 2018 at 06:33 PM (#5750102)
Faster plate appearances, but more walks, more strikeouts, more runs, potentially longer, not shorter.

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