Cheapest Jeter joke ever.
So, why does Neyer think this is a problem? Fans love home runs and strikeouts can be exciting especially when your favorite power pitcher is dominating the opposition. Neyer’s feeling is that baseball has reached the point where too much of a good thing has turned into not such a good thing and I agree with that sentiment.
The result of so many true outcomes is widespread defensive inactivity. There are fewer players involved in the action than ever before. That means fewer opportunities for us to see fielders making great catches and showing off their cannon arms. It also means fewer chances for players to leg out extra base hits and fewer close plays on the bases. It’s exciting to watch defenders chasing balls and runners speeding around the bases and we don’t get to see so much of that anymore.
How much more often are these true outcomes happening? I’ll get into more detail below, but they have increased from 17 per game for both teams in 1981 to 24 last year and so far this year. That is about a 40% increase which is huge.
...The question is whether this defensive inactivity is a problem that needs to be addressed. Some older fans might think so but, unless attendance starts falling, nothing will be done. If they do decide, in the future, to change the game to get more players involved in the action, what could they do?
I don’t think “too many home runs” would ever be a concern as fans generally like run scoring and love the long ball. If a change is made, it would probably be because strikeouts became too frequent. The obvious solution would be to decrease the size of the strike zone and/or lower the mound as they did in 1969.
For now though, we’ll just have to be content with marveling at the high home run totals of modern-day sluggers and astonishing strikeout rates of today’s pitchers while grumbling about parts of the game that have been somewhat forgotten.