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Sunday, May 06, 2018

Olney: Have big swings, big flies and big whiffs broken baseball?

This will be the 11th consecutive year that the league-wide K/9 record will be broken and likely will be the first season ever to have more strikeouts than hits.

The sport-wide batting average is dropping, diminishing the number of sustained rallies and perhaps feeding into the hitters’ collective effort to hit homers—and the strikeouts.

“It seems like every night this season, you get a notification on your phone that somebody is taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning,” one staffer said at the ballpark here Saturday.

This was not a baseless observation. According to Langs, there have been 16 no-hit bids of at least six innings this year. There was a total of 24 six-inning no-hit bids in the entire 2017 season.

Bored Posted: May 06, 2018 at 10:27 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: buster olney, strikeouts

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   1. bfan Posted: May 06, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5667413)
Six inning no-hitter strikes me as a selective end-point gig, that would not look as dramatic if done at the end of 7 innings or 8 innings. I assume with 1 no-hitter at the end of 9 innings, we are not generally ahead of prior years' pace. Nonetheless, too many guys are throwing too hard from that same short distance. Just move the mound back 2 and one-half feet; 5% more distance I assume gives hitters a little more than 5% more time to recognize and load.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: May 06, 2018 at 03:51 PM (#5667428)
Just move the mound back 2 and one-half feet; 5% more distance I assume gives hitters a little more than 5% more time to recognize and load.

So fewer strikeouts, but more walks and homers. And more broken pitchers. I'm not sure that's the answer.

   3. Walt Davis Posted: May 06, 2018 at 05:27 PM (#5667488)
In 93-94, Ks spiked. That though was probably batters changing because on-contact production skyrocketed and scoring went up. That is, this was a change to the hitters' benefit so the best guess is they were the ones changing and had found a better way to play the game (at least for that era).

On-contact production stayed pretty much the same from 1994-2013 (give or take). Around 2010(?), Ks started rising pretty dramatically -- with constant on-contact production, that meant scoring started falling. Everything bottomed out in 2014 (and first half 2015) when on-contact production finally fell too. This rise in Ks benefited the pitchers tremendously so chances are they were doing something different .... although a big chunk of it (half if I recall) was the expanding strike zone.

From mid-2015, on-contact production took a big jump and Ks rose further. This seemed like a change by the batters as scoring went up.

Scoring is down .19 runs relative to 2017 but it's up .05 runs relative to April 2017. BA this April was 244; last year it was 247, not a big change and possibly due to the earlier and colder start. OBP is actually up two points which would seem to be the relevant stat for "sustained rallies." The K-rate last April 21.6%, this April it's 22.7%. We'll have to see how summer goes but for now I'm leaning towards flat.

That jump in K-rate means you're seeing less than .5 extra Ks per team-game. That's not entertaining but one extra K every 2.5 games is not killing off sustained rallies.

The relationship between batter K-rate and scoring/HRs is far from obvious. KC has the lowest K-rate, the 3rd-worst R/G and the 5th-worst HR%. SD has the highest K-rate, a whopping 9% more than KC. They have the 6th-worst scoring (4th worst NL) and are a bit below ML average in HR%. The Yanks lead in scoring with a K-rate about 1.5% higher than league average; Toronto is 4th at the league average. But Bos, Atl and LAA, the others in the top 5, have K-rates about 3-3.5% below average.

Last year the Astros hit the jackpot with a low K-rate and top on-contact production; this year they're K'ing a little more than league average, 8th in scoring and middle of the pack in on-contact production. The Yanks are hitting 352/638 on-contact, I'm pretty sure they're not looking to change anything.

Anyway, as always, let's wait to get May and June under our belts before we start to panic. MLB can swap baseballs over the AS break like they did in 2015 if things are out of hand. :-)
   4. eric Posted: May 06, 2018 at 07:22 PM (#5667531)
Scherzer just had 15K through 6.1IP, then was lifted due to 111 pitches thrown.

The only thing keeping the 20-K 9-inning game record intact is these pitch counts. At least from a single-pitcher perspective. The 9-inning record for any number of pitchers is 20, as well, although it was all the single-pitcher CG efforts we know so well until two years ago.

Then, in both 2016 and 2017, we had 20-K games with multiple pitchers. I'll take the under on one calendar year before that falls.

Strikeouts in the teens are as devalued as home runs were in the 90's.
   5. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5667544)
Sample size of one, but it’s ruined it for this former fan. Stopped watching this year, and haven’t felt like I’m missing out; the random times I’ve caught part of a game on tv this year I’m really struck by how slow it is and how little action there is.
   6. Obo Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:21 PM (#5667546)
Move the bases closer together and remove one fielder. I am not a crackpot.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:24 PM (#5667547)

Move the bases closer together and remove one fielder. I am not a crackpot.

While I've long believed the former is the most feasible solution, I've gotta admit the latter would be even more effective.

   8. cardsfanboy Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:26 PM (#5667548)
Move the bases closer together and remove one fielder. I am not a crackpot.

I'm in the camp that we limit number of pitchers on the roster, that we massively restrict the size of gloves for non-firstbaseman fielders,(basically the typical second baseman glove should be as larger as you can have---the theory being more balls will land, encouraging more in play attempts) move the fences back in almost every ball park,.... Call the strike zone as written, and punish/reward umps with bonus's based upon their accurate calling of the strike zone. (Of course I'm also a fan of free substitution of catchers during the game... or at least allowing one return of a catcher to the defensive position...)

   9. BDC Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:38 PM (#5667552)
I’m somewhat agnostic on strikeouts & on TTO style in general. I still enjoy innings as they unfold.

I dislike the number of pitchers per (effective) game. A two-run, 10-K six-hit victory (let’s say) is much more fun with one pitcher, or starter plus relief ace, than with four pitchers.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: May 06, 2018 at 10:02 PM (#5667589)
The occasional mid-inning switch aside, my main annoyance with the relievers is they're so darn effective. Rivera's career ERA+ was 205; last year there were 13 relievers with 50+ innings better than that.

It's early yet but there are currently 54 relievers this year with at least 8 IP (and 100% relief) and ERA+>=200. There are 16 over 400. It's still hard to do that year after year but over the last 5+ years, at least 95% relief, at least 200 IP, there are 20 guys with an ERA+ of 150 or better. Over that same time period, we have 17 starter seasons of 200+ innings at 150 ERA+. Pitching that well should be hard and reasonably rare but relievers just do it all the time now and it takes fun out of close games.

Collin McHugh was a nice find by the Astros as a starter -- 8.4 K/9, 106 ERA+. This year he's been used strictly in relief and is K'ing 12.8/9 and has a 600 ERA+ in 13 innings. I know, I know, just one bad inning where he gives up 2 runs will balloon his ERA all the way to 1.93!

   11. Perry Posted: May 06, 2018 at 11:46 PM (#5667604)
Is Bill James still advocating increasing the minimum bat handle thickness? I've always been intrigued by that idea as a way to encourage more contact hitting.

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