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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

James Paxton’s No-Hitter Is a Clear Product of Baseball’s All-or-Nothing Era

The third no-hitter of the 2018 MLB season and the 299th in professional baseball history belongs to James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners. Over nine innings in Toronto, the big Canadian lefty struck out seven Blue Jays and needed just 99 pitches to finish the job, throwing as hard as 100 mph in his final frame. While it wasn’t as dominant an effort as his 16-strikeout outing last week, Paxton’s no-no perhaps best represents this current era of baseball—an all-or-nothing affair in which making contact has more or less vanished.

Consider that, entering Tuesday’s action, the league as a whole was hitting just .244 this season. That mark ties for sixth lowest in a season of play since 1871, and in the 20th century, only 1908, ‘67 and ‘68 have been worse.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: May 09, 2018 at 02:36 AM | 109 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, jamex paxton, mariners, no-hitter

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   101. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: May 09, 2018 at 11:13 PM (#5669817)
Agreed, but these days anyone who can't consistently hit at least 20 home runs might want to think about another approach to swinging, at least with two strikes. It can be done. Too many players who hit 10 or 15 home runs wind up striking out 150 times with miserably low walk totals, fooling themselves into thinking they're Aaron Judge.

it's hard to hit two different ways and at best that just leads to your slap hitting 260/310/380 type getting 2-3 more hits a year at the expense of the same amount of XBHs (or more) and more Ks. The Ks don't really matter compared to the power bump.

It's just smart baseball.


That's why I think moving the bases closer, in conjunction with the things to make homers harder, might be one of the few things that truly work. That would pull infielders in, turning more ground balls into singles, probably producing more ROEs and increasing the distance between the infield and outfield, allowing for more balls to drop between them. If BABIP (or OBP*BIP) increases enough, it can increase the value gap between swinging and missing (the inevitable byproduct of the power-hitting approach) and contact.

but why?
   102. SoSH U at work Posted: May 09, 2018 at 11:37 PM (#5669823)
but why?

Why would you do it, or why would it work?

You'd do it because you believe, unlike Eric, that the game has shifted too heavily in terms of TTO. And, you'd be right.

As for why it would work, it's already more valuable, in isolation, to make contact vs. striking out. But the value there is overwhelmed by what you give up to manage that (softer contact on all balls, fewer walks). In my opinion, the only way to push hitting away from the swing from the heels approach* is to make it more valuable to put the ball in play vs. swinging and missing than it is now.

Someone mentioned yesterday or upthread about taking away a fielder. Quite honestly, if you're looking for the most radical and effective solution to the issue, that's it right there.

* Either by getting players to change their approach, or more likely, resulting in teams choosing more for contact over TTO.

   103. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 10, 2018 at 03:57 AM (#5669839)

It arises in many contexts (including political, social, etc.) but the notion that somehow making it harder for group A to succeed will lead group A to change such that it succeeds more have little/no basis in reality.
Yeah, what the #### did that Darwin guy know, anyway?

Of course, that doesn't mean individual players will be able to change their approach. But the league will select for players that have a more productive approach.
   104. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: May 10, 2018 at 08:45 AM (#5669865)
What about standardizing positions to reduce shifting? Like you can only have 2 infielders on the right side and two on the left of 2B. IF's can't play on the OF grass anymore. OF's you can do whatever you want with since it's GB's that are being turning into outs at an alarming pace. Just spitballing, I would love to hear your objections :)
   105. PreservedFish Posted: May 10, 2018 at 08:57 AM (#5669868)
I think that shifting is super exciting, personally, and would hate that rule. I love that after 100+ years there is still space for creativity and totally novel approaches in the game.

But the better argument is this: most hitters do not care what the infielders are up to. You can stack 7 guys in right field and Joey Gallo is still just going to try and hit it over their heads. The shift is in fact an extremely strong inducement to shorten up swings, put the ball in play, go the other way, etc, which has been all but totally ignored. Outlawing the shift might increase batting averages a tiny bit but it's only going to encourage the all or nothing approach.
   106. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: May 10, 2018 at 09:13 AM (#5669872)
Fair enough, good points!
   107. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 10, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5669874)
there's evidence some of it's the ball but FFS have you seen the forearms on middle infielders these days? In a way, even without full blown PEDs, training and nutrition and legal supplements have turned almost everybody back into a power threat.

So, just deaden the ball sufficiently to get the equilibrium back where it was.

To me, an opposite field HR should be almost impossible for anyone except your most elite power hitters.
   108. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 10, 2018 at 11:58 AM (#5669987)
Changing the ball is the one change with the fewest negative consequences. And easiest.
   109. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: May 10, 2018 at 12:58 PM (#5670037)
to get the equilibrium back

You'd do it because you believe, unlike Eric, that the game has shifted too heavily in terms of TTO. And, you'd be right.

Not to get too philosophical here but it's hubris to think that a) an "equilibrium" could ever be established and that b) such an "equilibrium" would be the aesthetic ideal.

I'd be very hesitant to change any of the constants associated with baseball -- base length, pitching mound distance, number of fielders. I would be less hesitant to change things that historically have been in flux (either "naturally" eg ball hardness and seam prominence, or "artificially" like mound height or strike zone size).

Whatever changes are made they will, almost guaranteed, have unintended consequences. I would advise baseball be extremely conservative here.
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