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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

PED suspicion is up now that home runs are back in baseball | SI.com

Conjecture <> evidence.

Let’s be clear: PEDs are not driving this explosion in home runs, the way they did almost two decades ago. A change in hitting philosophy is causing this boom more than anything. Get the barrel in the zone early, hit the bottom third of the ball, generate a launch angle between 23 and 28 degrees.

There’s a saying going around baseball: There is no damage on the ground. The damage is in the air. And damage means money.

A generation of players has been trained to hit this way. “Hitting for average” is dead. Strikeouts are up for a 12th straight year. We are just getting started with this home run era. And because the risk for flunking a drug test is the loss of only half a season, and the reward can be transformative with long-lasting benefits, some doubt will linger about the role of PEDs. We await the next Marte, and yet people, as they did with the Pittsburgh outfielder, will act surprised when it happens.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 16, 2017 at 02:43 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: steroids

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 16, 2017 at 02:55 PM (#5456636)
Is bacne up as well?
   2. Jesus Frankenstein Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:15 PM (#5456667)
Verducci. Didn't even need to click through.
   3. Jesus Frankenstein Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:19 PM (#5456672)
No doubt players are using, but read the Thames piece. Players are getting more and more sophisticated in their methods. And they're simply bigger. The average major leaguer is probably 6'2" 220.

Hell, that may be the average middle infielder.
   4. bigglou115 Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:23 PM (#5456678)
@2 am I misremembering or was Verducci once a relatively solid writer? Seems I remember him doing some good work before falling into the typical tar babies that engulfed most of the writers who lost their way in the 2000s.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:31 PM (#5456690)
That would be 6'1', 190 lb, 9 HR in 2016 Starling Marte?
   6. Man o' Schwar Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:38 PM (#5456706)
Conjecture <> evidence.

That's not how Lionel Hutz tells it.
   7. Man o' Schwar Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:41 PM (#5456710)
Is there any thought that the increase in defensive shifting is adding to this? As teams shift more in the infield, you would think that ground ball singles would become more difficult to get (assuming the shift works as it's supposed to). So players who might otherwise be content trying to ground a single through the right side now have to either learn to use the whole field, or learn to elevate the ball more.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 16, 2017 at 03:46 PM (#5456717)

@2 am I misremembering or was Verducci once a relatively solid writer? Seems I remember him doing some good work before falling into the typical tar babies that engulfed most of the writers who lost their way in the 2000s.


I believe we call that "The Verducci Effect."
   9. AROM Posted: May 16, 2017 at 04:06 PM (#5456737)
Is there any thought that the increase in defensive shifting is adding to this? As teams shift more in the infield, you would think that ground ball singles would become more difficult to get (assuming the shift works as it's supposed to). So players who might otherwise be content trying to ground a single through the right side now have to either learn to use the whole field, or learn to elevate the ball more.


Generally, the guys who try to hit the ball in the air are most affected by the shift. Think David Ortiz, Ryan Howard. When they hit a ground ball it's something they aren't trying to do. Players who don't hit the ball in the air are generally bat control guys. Think Ichiro, Jose Altuve. If you shift on them they can just punch it the other way. So you can't shift on them.

Players who hit the ball on the ground and are predictable enough to shift, well they aren't going to be sticking around very long.
   10. Bote Man Posted: May 16, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5456766)
Another component to The Shift™ is that the pitcher has to pitch into the shift. A number of play-by-play commentators (notably Vin Scully) have remarked that the defense puts on the shift, then the pitcher keeps throwing the ball to the outside part of the zone so the hitter goes the other way thus defeating the shift.

As to home runs being back, I never knew they'd left. Huh. I guess Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and company never got the word.
   11. ReggieThomasLives Posted: May 16, 2017 at 06:02 PM (#5456873)
I think the Umpire should present every HR hitter with a pee cup as they cross home plate, and the whole stadium can witness the sample being provided.

That should restore trust in the game.
   12. Man o' Schwar Posted: May 16, 2017 at 06:19 PM (#5456888)
I think the Umpire should present every HR hitter with a pee cup as they cross home plate, and the whole stadium can witness the sample being provided.

That should restore trust in the game.


I vote for condom catheters and real time monitoring - as the urine is excreted, a computer strapped to the player's body analyzes it instantly. Any abnormalities and the player has to be pulled from the game.

They could add the stats to the jumbotron. "Mike Trout led the league in 2018 in most samples taken with undetectable levels of urine protein. Go Mike!"
   13. Bote Man Posted: May 16, 2017 at 06:33 PM (#5456903)
How would they ensure that they only analyze mid-stream urine, though???
   14. Shaggy Posted: May 16, 2017 at 06:38 PM (#5456908)
Just adapt the stadium pal and you're set.

Ive been told UPS drivers routinely use stadim pal to meet their schedule. Problems arise when the forget they aren't wearing it.
   15. ptodd Posted: May 16, 2017 at 07:21 PM (#5456941)
Juiced ball.

Nothing happens that suddenly without the ball. GB rates up compared to 2002-2004, FB rates about the sane. HR/FB rates up more than 20% from 2002-2004.
   16. John DiFool2 Posted: May 16, 2017 at 08:32 PM (#5457000)
I worry that the multiple paths to value that used to be the norm will now be replaced by this One True Way approach. The Carews/Gwynns/Boggses/Ichiros of the past, for example, seem to be a dying species now (when the latter finally hangs them up, who will take up his mantle?). Someone here or on another forum discussed minor leaguers who walk a ton with little power and a high but unspectacular average, but who can never seem to make the jump to the bigs. The stolen base has been greatly de-emphasized...so what else is left?

This ain't football or basketball, where varied approaches have been dictated by positional needs, but where positional constraints seemed to affect offensive variety a bit. But yeah, when even the middle infielders are 6' 2" 220 lb... I just hate the thought of baseball in say 2050 having this one-dimensional feel where pretty much every player has the same skills.
   17. Greg Pope Posted: May 16, 2017 at 09:30 PM (#5457082)
Another component to The Shift™ is that the pitcher has to pitch into the shift. A number of play-by-play commentators (notably Vin Scully) have remarked that the defense puts on the shift, then the pitcher keeps throwing the ball to the outside part of the zone so the hitter goes the other way thus defeating the shift.

Are you saying that pitchers should pitch into the shift, but don't?
   18. Bote Man Posted: May 16, 2017 at 11:51 PM (#5457202)
Are you saying that pitchers should pitch into the shift, but don't?

Sometimes they don't, yes. I can't quantify it, but when multiple broadcasters are noting the same trend for a different pitchers, that tells me there is a disconnect between what the pitcher is doing and what his defense behind him is doing.

I mean, is the catcher not aware that his infielders are bunched over on the right side so he just keeps calling for pitches outside to a lefty batter? Does the pitcher have such poor control that even when he tries to throw inside to a lefty he misses outside? The point is that it happens often enough to be noticeable so this is more than just a random "OOOPS!" and good hitters make them pay.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 17, 2017 at 12:01 AM (#5457205)
Sometimes they don't, yes. I can't quantify it, but when multiple broadcasters are noting the same trend for a different pitchers, that tells me there is a disconnect between what the pitcher is doing and what his defense behind him is doing.

I mean, is the catcher not aware that his infielders are bunched over on the right side so he just keeps calling for pitches outside to a lefty batter? Does the pitcher have such poor control that even when he tries to throw inside to a lefty he misses outside? The point is that it happens often enough to be noticeable so this is more than just a random "OOOPS!" and good hitters make them pay.

Alternative explanation: A few pitchers missed outside with a pitch, resulting in a hit against the shift, and it became a Narrative Thing that some broadcasters adopted to have stuff to say. That might be the Occam's razor.
   20. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 17, 2017 at 09:42 AM (#5457292)
The Carews/Gwynns/Boggses/Ichiros of the past, for example, seem to be a dying species now
That species was always endangered. Since 1901, there are only 54 players with >4000 PA, BA>.300, and <.05 HR/G (Boggs, for instance, hit 118 HR in 2440 games, .048 HR/G; Carew, .92/2469 .037)
   21. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 17, 2017 at 10:01 AM (#5457302)
Move the minimum to 6000 PA, and there's 35 - 21 HOFers, Rose, and Ichiro! among them. Further narrow it to since integration (although that now covers the past 70 seasons), and there's 8 - 3* HOFers (Boggs, Carew, Ashburn), 3 non-HOFers (Kuenn, Matty Alou, Billy Goodman), Rose, and Ichiro!.

*Even Gwynn doesn't qualify - he hit a HR in every .055 games.
   22. Greg Pope Posted: May 17, 2017 at 10:45 AM (#5457323)
Sometimes they don't, yes. I can't quantify it, but when multiple broadcasters are noting the same trend for a different pitchers, that tells me there is a disconnect between what the pitcher is doing and what his defense behind him is doing.

I mean, is the catcher not aware that his infielders are bunched over on the right side so he just keeps calling for pitches outside to a lefty batter? Does the pitcher have such poor control that even when he tries to throw inside to a lefty he misses outside? The point is that it happens often enough to be noticeable so this is more than just a random "OOOPS!" and good hitters make them pay.


OK, but this begs the question of whether the pitchers should be pitching differently when the shift is on. If you have a batter that you pitch and defend normally, and they pull the ball more than average, then you might decide to use the shift. But that decision is based on pitching normally. You make the mathematical determination that with a typical distribution of pitches, this batter hits more to one side and if you put your defenders there you'll get more outs. So why would you then modify your pitching style?

If you shift, then tell the pitcher that he should only use the inside part of the plate, then aren't you giving a huge advantage to the batter? In fact, you may be giving up more homers to the sluggers via the shift because every pitch is now in their wheelhouse.
   23. Brian C Posted: May 17, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5457326)
Someone here or on another forum discussed minor leaguers who walk a ton with little power and a high but unspectacular average, but who can never seem to make the jump to the bigs.

I'm willing to bet this has always been the case. What you're describing has been called a "AAAA player" since before sabermetrics became a thing. That "high but unspectacular average" usually becomes "nothing special" when a player goes from the minors to the bigs. It's always been thus, and absent very strong defensive abilities, this kind of player is a bench guy at best.
   24. Brian C Posted: May 17, 2017 at 10:58 AM (#5457331)
Another component to The Shift™ is that the pitcher has to pitch into the shift. A number of play-by-play commentators (notably Vin Scully) have remarked that the defense puts on the shift, then the pitcher keeps throwing the ball to the outside part of the zone so the hitter goes the other way thus defeating the shift.

Maybe I'm missing something, but this makes no real sense one way or the other. For one thing, those outside-corner pitches are exactly the ones that dead-pull hitters most often roll over on for a grounder. Pitching outside is pitching into the shift for those guys.

Alternatively, if a hitter is capable of just taking the outside pitch the other way, why the hell are managers shifting on that guy? They deserve to get beat.
   25. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 17, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5457341)
Maybe I'm missing something, but this makes no real sense one way or the other.

See #19.

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