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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Snyder: Offensive decline continuing in 2014

Are we having fun yet!?

With a new crop of uber-talented power pitchers, the cyclical nature of the game and, probably—though we couldn’t prove this and pitchers were using the juice, too—the major crack-down on performance-enhancing drugs, offense continues its decline in baseball.

Heading into Tuesday’s action, MLB hitters were posting the lowest batting average and on-base percentage since the 1972 season. That year has some historical significance, which we’ll get to in a bit.

The 4.19 runs per game clip is actually up ever-so-slightly from last season, but both 2013 and 2014 to this point rank as well-below-average offensive seasons in baseball history, post-Dead Ball Era.

This continues a trend we’ve been seeing for the past several years. Offense is clearly in decline as the pitchers become more dominant.

...We should be applying this line of thinking when examining numbers this season, too. If there’s someone hitting, say, .265 and you hear someone scoffing about the guy being “only a .265 hitter,” maybe let that person know this is pretty well above average right now. Meantime, there are 17 starting pitchers with an ERA of better than 2.50. Thirty-four are below 3.00. Only 26 qualifying starters are at 4.50 or worse.

Contrast that to just a decade ago and it’s easy to see how much context the raw stats—rate or counting—need in any given era.

Baseball right now is a hell of a lot closer to the worst offensive season than the best. If things continue on this path, we’ll need to re-adjust how we define the best pitchers and hitters based upon the traditional stats. Again. Because the offensive numbers right now are downright offensive.

Repoz Posted: May 20, 2014 at 01:53 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Willie Mayspedes Posted: May 20, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4710231)
With a new crop of uber-talented power pitchers, the cyclical nature of the game and, probably—though we couldn’t prove this and pitchers were using the juice, too—the major crack-down on performance-enhancing drugs, offense continues its decline in baseball.


Not sure, what-todo, possibly my fault, and wouldn't be the-first time, how to understand this sentence...
   2. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: May 20, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4710259)
The 4.19 runs per game clip is actually up ever-so-slightly from last season,


With all the talented pitching getting TJ, could this number go up more this year?
   3. DL from MN Posted: May 20, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4710282)
Time for expansion. That usually balances things back toward the hitters.
   4. bjhanke Posted: May 20, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4710287)
Assuming that the drop in offense is not due in any way to steroids and testing for them (which I am sure it doesn't), then what dId happen? Here is one good opportunity to try to figure out jut how the Lords go about decreasing offense when they want to, info that may inform all analysis dating back to at least 1893 and probably earlier, and info that the Lords have always been completely paranoid and secretive about revealing. Does anyone know, especially those of you new sabermetricians who actually work for teams now? - Brock Hanke.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: May 20, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4710291)
Assuming that the drop in offense is not due in any way to steroids and testing for them (which I am sure it doesn't), then what dId happen? Here is one good opportunity to try to figure out jut how the Lords go about decreasing offense when they want to, info that may inform all analysis dating back to at least 1893 and probably earlier, and info that the Lords have always been completely paranoid and secretive about revealing. Does anyone know, especially those of you new sabermetricians who actually work for teams now? - Brock Hanke.


I've said it a dozen times. The changes in bat regulations (mostly for maple bats) is at least partially responsible for the drop in offense. (changes went into effect prior to 2010 season)
   6. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 20, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4710293)
With all the talented pitching getting TJ, could this number go up more this year?


I wondered if it was really "talented" pitching getting TJ, or simply young pitching.

Looking at the table in this article, there are two pitchers in the top 30, and ten in the top 100...so about 10% of the "talented" pitchers in 2014 (based on pre-season rankings).
   7. Moeball Posted: May 20, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4710294)
The changes in bat regulations (mostly for maple bats) is at least partially responsible for the drop in offense. (changes went into effect prior to 2010 season)


So, it's still Barry Bonds' fault?
   8. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 20, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4710298)
then what dId happen?


guesses (i.e, usual suspects):

1: The Ball
2: The Bats
3: How the strikezone is called
4: player selection
5: the weather
6: training regimes (PED use or non-use would go here)

by player selection I mean the fact that in some eras "sluggers" get opportunities before "speedsters" and vice-versa
before 1920 slow 1Bs who hit the ball hard but didn't do much of anything else had very limited value/promotion possibilities, but a good glove SS who cold hit .250 was valued by every team and could play anywhere- within a generation that changed, if your slow 1B could hit home runs teams would do things t9o get his bat in the lineup they wouldn't have thought of doing before like play him in the OF (RF if he had any arm) or 3B (Ditto on the arm)

I think we may be seeing some of #4 in the past 2-3 years, Bourjos, Gardner, Hamilton, it seem sthat "type" is getting more MLB PAs than 10 years ago.
   9. bjhanke Posted: May 20, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4710302)
cardsfanboy (#5) - Thanks. I have vague memories of something odd about maple bats instead of ash ones. But I did not manage to pick up on that as being a rule change and a continuing factor in dropping offense. THANKS! - Brock
   10. Ron J2 Posted: May 20, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4710304)
#4 I'm confident that hitter selection played a rise in the offensive level. Specifically fast, low ISO hitters (particularly switch-hitters) were being replaced by players with more power. (I did a study on switch-hitters that showed they were becoming progressively less common and that the ones being replaced were primarily fast and without much power)

These days I suspect the rise in Ks is primarily a perfect storm of hitters being selected without much concern for their contact rate (take and rake hitters are far more common than at any point), pitchers being selected primarily for their ability to miss bats and the strike zone has been expanded (and in a way that's very pitcher friendly)

Hitters are doing about as well as ever on contact (after the introduction of the livelier ball). The drop in offense is primarily driven by Ks.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: May 20, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4710306)

by player selection I mean the fact that in some eras "sluggers" get opportunities before "speedsters" and vice-versa
before 1920 slow 1Bs who hit the ball hard but didn't do much of anything else had very limited value/promotion possibilities, but a good glove SS who cold hit .250 was valued by every team and could play anywhere- within a generation that changed, if your slow 1B could hit home runs teams would do things t9o get his bat in the lineup they wouldn't have thought of doing before like play him in the OF (RF if he had any arm) or 3B (Ditto on the arm)


I was always under the impression that those type of changes followed the change in offense, not preceding it. When offense goes down, the need for faster players who can make up for lack of power by speed is increased, and slow lumbering players become more popular as offense goes up, because the need for speed is diminished with the power-driven extra base hits.
   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 20, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4710319)
Hitters are doing about as well as ever on contact (after the introduction of the livelier ball). The drop in offense is primarily driven by Ks.


Ron hits on the most interesting aspect of this to me.

To my mind it means that steroids testing is likely not the reason, if hitters are hitting about as well on contact.

As usual it's probably multiple factors, but the main one to me seems to be the utter streamlining of pitchers - particularly relievers - to go as hard as they can for as long (short) as they can. Relievers are asked to get fewer outs per appearance than they were asked to get a decade ago or even five years ago. Relievers are throwing harder now.

I would say that we were about to see more no-hitters and perfect games, and for the 20K record to be broken, but on the other hand starters don't go that long anymore and even nine innings is a feat, let alone staying in for the 120-130 pitches that a 20K game would require. (But we will likely see _combined_ efforts breaking these records.) There seems to be a new "strikeouts in first N starts/innings" record broken every week. And here's something from April 28th that we're going to be seeing more of:

"Starting pitchers had a historic day Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a record 10 pitchers -- one-third of all of Sunday's starters -- threw at least seven innings while allowing three or fewer hits."


   13. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: May 20, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4710333)
My off-the-wall theory is that the move to 13 pitchers is having a knock-on effect on the hitters. Defensive agility is more important than ever with such thin benches. The effect is to slide the defensive scale of the average player to the left and thus introduce lesser hitters.
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 20, 2014 at 04:59 PM (#4710335)
Note that managers have many fewer pinch hit opportunities on the bench. Games are ending with, e.g., RHBs who can't hit RHP very well going up against Craig Kimbrel.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: May 20, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4710355)
I suppose everybody in this thread has seen this at least one of the other half-dozen times I've re-posted but here's Ron's table from an earlier thread, through mid-2013, AL only. I don't know if Ron ever updated it.

YEAR BABIP BAOC ISOC HRR
1988 .285 .306 .155 34.4
1989 .288 .307 .145 38.1
1990 .287 .307 .152 36.1
1991 .288 .309 .160 33.5
1992 .285 .305 .148 37.0


YEAR BABIP BAOC ISOC HRR
1993 .294 .316 .168 31.5


Something of a bridge year

YEAR BABIP BAOC ISOC HRR
1994 .299 .326 .193 26.0
1995 .298 .324 .188 26.8
1996 .304 .333 .202 24.0
1997 .302 .329 .192 25.9
1998 .302 .329 .195 25.8
1999 .302 .331 .199 24.6
2000 .303 .332 .202 24.2
2001 .297 .324 .196 25.6
2002 .292 .319 .195 26.0
2003 .294 .321 .193 26.0
2004 .300 .328 .198 24.9
2005 .296 .322 .189 26.7
2006 .305 .332 .196 25.5
2007 .305 .330 .186 28.5
2008 .302 .327 .186 28.1
2009 .300 .329 .199 24.7
2010 .296 .320 .181 28.4
2011 .294 .320 .186 27.5
2012 .293 .322 .197 24.5
2013 .296 .324 .192 25.6
AVE .299 .326 .193 26.0


When I first peeked into this I expected to find the jump in K-rate explained most of the offensive decline but still assumed there'd be some drop in on-contact production. But really, it is ALL about the Ks. From one year to the next you see some variation in BB rate, G/F ratios, HR/FB ratios but I don't see an obvious trend in those stats.

So we need to explain the jump in K-rates. Once we figure out the source of that, we'll know what's changed.

The simplest explanation is a bigger strike zone. The main issue with that hypothesis is that walk rates have been pretty stable the last 3-4 years ... although it has been roughly true throughout a good chunk of baseball history that walk rates are stable.

But it seems unlikely to me that it's bat regulations, PED-testing or even a less lively ball that could drive up K-rates. It's not impossible -- the first two could mean that batters have to be even more selective and swing even harder to generate the same on-contact numbers which presumably would lead to more Ks.

As to speedy slap-hitters, etc ...

You can simplify offense with the following formula:

Total hitting per PA = P(K)*E(O|K) + P(BB)*E(O|BB) + P(Con)*E(O|Con)

Just a weighted average of the probability (P) of an event (K, BB, Contact) times the expected outcome (O) given the event. Include HBP and other weird stuff in BB, do whatever you want with RoEs, etc. We can quibble about what scale to measure the outcome in but leave that aside.

From that formula, what we are basically seeing is that P(K) has gone up. By definition, since the Ps have to sum to one, the sum of the other two has to be smaller and we're seeing almost all of the decline is in P(Con).

What we're not seeing is any drop in the conditional expected outcomes -- i.e. the E values in that formula are the same as they were 10 years ago. Yes, in some absolute sense, a BB is worth a bit more in a high offense era (more likely to be followed by double or HR) than in a low offense one but in relative terms, a BB in relative terms probably stays pretty stable. Certainly we see above that batters are hitting pretty much the same in rate stat terms when they make contact.

Now, suppose you combat the rising K-rates by giving more PA to contact hitters. What would happen?

Let's assume that P(K) drops which will lead to a rise in the sum of the other two. But what else are we likely to see? Contact hitters often have fairly low walk rates -- partly because of low power, partly because they are less selective. Therefore a drop in P(K) driven by contact hitters may lead to a drop in P(BB) and that will lead to a drop in offense coming from that component.

So that could lead to a rather sizeable jump in P(Con) but here's the tricky part. A shift to contact hitters will lead to a drop in E(O|Con). So while the P is going up, the E would be coming down. Obviously there's a break-even point in there somewhere and maybe a shift to contact hitters will exceed that by enough to overcome any drop in overall BB production and then some to drive up offense.

It's a fair point that contact hitters usually provide more baserunning value and this compensates for at least some of the drop in E(O|Con). Of course they also usually provide more defense which might further reduce E(O|Con) league-wide.

Obviously your Gwynn/Ichiro contact types are great and your Boggs/Butler types can be awesome without power. But generally, the most productive players have always been the sluggers and teams have always decided it was beneficial to look the other way on defense and running to get a slugger in the lineup, especially one that walked a bit.

So to see this shift to contact types, FOs have to come to the conclusion that their team will score more. But they know that formula (and it's much more detailed offspring) better than we all do. They know that it's not necessarily true that a shift to contact-oriented hitters will increase scoring. So far they are choosing to stick with the guys who can produce good E(O|Con). Maybe that's because they have no choice -- the new minor-leaguers 3-5 years would certainly have been primarily drafted/developed for rake and take.

None of this goes against the notion that, at an individual level, a contact orientation may be the way to go. If you're Billy Hamilton, you're not going to have the power and you certainly have the speed. You're probably not Tony Gwynn. So the upside is Brett Butler (walk rate) but the key is a low-ish K rate.

But, yes, at the moment we have a relatively large number of hitters with extreme lines like 180/280/430. Somewhere around 260/320/360 or 280/340/350 should be pretty break-even, especially if the latter adds better running and defense.

But that's roughly Vince Coleman at his peak (ages 23-28) -- 265/326/339. Even in the late 80s that was just a 85 OPS+. Even adding a staggering 12 runs a year on the bases (but not much defensive value) he was dead average in WAR. Contrast this to Brandon Hicks who, even if we zero-out his positive defense, is also dead average while hitting 195 with no running value. It's also about the same as Valbuena's line over the last 2 years of 225/340/380 with no running value. But it is better than Mike Olt's 175/254/451 line.

I don't know if it's easier to find a Coleman than it is Hicks or Valbuena.

Anyway, the take-away point is way back up there ... if you want to explain what's behind the lower offense you need to explain what's behind the rising K-rates. Even if you don't think that's the only thing you need to explain you have to agree it's the primary reason offense is down so dramatically. And if you want to increase offense, you've got to decrease the K-rate (or drive E(O|Con) even higher).

What you shouldn't be considering are possible changes that caused a power drop because we haven't seen a power drop. At the very least you've got to explain why a deadened ball or bat regulations would lead to higher K-rates but not lower HR/contact or HR/FB rates.

If you just want to change the aesthetics of the game towards more contact regardless of its effect on scoring ... well, you're gonna have to convince front offices that more contact will increase scoring (or be cheaper, easier to find) otherwise they have no incentive to switch. Deadening the ball might well lead to lower power on-contact and that might force teams toward more contact but not likely to increase scoring.
   16. base ball chick Posted: May 20, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4710358)
and that &%^&#%@! snyder wants the DH in the NL?
like WHY???
NL hitters are actually doing BETTER than AL and there is more offense in the NL than the AL

note that in the NL, 3 regulars have an OPS over 1 and 9 have an OPS over 900 while NO players in the AL have an OPS over 1 and only 7 have an OPS over 900

there isn't gonna be more offense unless they stop telling ballplayers to take n rake and unless they make the strike zone smaller - and not sure that will help seeing as how more guys will just walk. i wish they'd just limit numbers of pitchers/roster to decrease the endless parade of relievers
   17. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: May 20, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4710393)
Looking at the table in this article, there are two pitchers in the top 30, and ten in the top 100...so about 10% of the "talented" pitchers in 2014 (based on pre-season rankings).

Thanks for doing that legwork! I would say 10% of the top 100 pitchers is a lot, especially since many of the 10 on that list likely would have taken a step forward this year. And there's also Cory Luebke and Jameson Taillon, who probably would've added valuable innings this year. They all have to be replaced, and it will likely be by inferior pitching.

And if Cliff Lee goes down....Wow. This is getting ###### up.
   18. bjhanke Posted: May 20, 2014 at 08:06 PM (#4710412)
D*mn. I was hoping it was something OTHER than Ks, which seem to be really hard to fix, due to historical momentum that no one has been able to find a cause for. Do we really have to go set new HR records just to get the offensive level up a bit? I hope not. - Brock
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 20, 2014 at 08:25 PM (#4710423)
Given the tables Walt presents in 15, is it a reasonable assumption that all of the increased shifting is having zero effect?

Unless the hitters are changing their approaches to go against the shift, but anecdotally I don't think that's been happening. (We could probably check spray charts for the league as a whole year to year.)
   20. Buck Coats Posted: May 20, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4710444)
To my mind it means that steroids testing is likely not the reason, if hitters are hitting about as well on contact.


On the other hand, lack of amphetamines could definitely be a culprit in less contact...
   21. bobm Posted: May 20, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4710469)
[12] The K rates for starters and relievers have diverged somewhat, still higher for RP. However, the SO/W ratio is now better for starters.

 
Split SO9-1988 SO9-2013
   SP      5.4      7.5
   RP      6.1      8.5


 
Split SO/W-1988 SO/W-2013
   SP       1.8       2.6     
   RP       1.7       2.3



For single team seasons, From 1988 to 2014, All Teams in Major Leagues, Splits as Starter and as Reliever (within Pitching Role), sorted by greatest Year for each split

                                                      
I        Split    G Year      IP    SO     BF SO9 SO/W
    as Starter 1314 2014  7786.1  6458  32992 7.5 2.62
    as Starter 4862 2013 28676.1 22922 121435 7.2 2.54
    as Starter 4860 2012 28617.2 22712 121548 7.1 2.51
    as Starter 4858 2011 29299.1 21977 124544 6.8 2.37
    as Starter 4860 2010 29067.0 21859 124154 6.8 2.21
    as Starter 4860 2009 28257.1 20883 121839 6.7 2.09
    as Starter 4856 2008 28198.2 20222 121818 6.5 2.06
    as Starter 4862 2007 28134.1 19700 122237 6.3 2.03
    as Starter 4858 2006 28295.1 19529 122977 6.2 2.01
    as Starter 4862 2005 29135.1 19557 125020 6.0 2.08
    as Starter 4856 2004 28437.1 19689 123439 6.2 1.96
    as Starter 4860 2003 28615.2 19244 123603 6.1 1.96
    as Starter 4852 2002 28758.2 19797 123795 6.2 1.96
    as Starter 4858 2001 28774.1 20371 124303 6.4 2.05
    as Starter 4858 2000 28756.1 19868 126129 6.2 1.74
    as Starter 4856 1999 28640.0 19522 125452 6.1 1.76
    as Starter 4864 1998 29466.1 20820 127553 6.4 1.99
    as Starter 4532 1997 27168.0 19171 117319 6.4 1.94
    as Starter 4534 1996 27006.1 18393 117644 6.1 1.87
    as Starter 4034 1995 23907.1 15968 103599 6.0 1.82
    as Starter 3200 1994 19471.2 12908  84264 6.0 1.82
    as Starter 4538 1993 27730.0 16934 119081 5.5 1.74
    as Starter 4212 1992 26098.1 15460 110453 5.3 1.75
    as Starter 4208 1991 25586.2 15801 108769 5.6 1.75
    as Starter 4210 1990 25521.0 15546 108714 5.5 1.74
I        Split    G Year      IP    SO     BF SO9 SO/W
    as Starter 4212 1989 25935.0 15351 110184 5.3 1.73
    as Starter 4200 1988 26714.0 15930 112643 5.4 1.83


                                                       
I         Split     G Year      IP    SO    BF SO9 SO/W
    as Reliever  3881 2014  4032.0  3808 17226 8.5 2.31
    as Reliever 14336 2013 14977.0 13788 63438 8.3 2.46
    as Reliever 14524 2012 14737.2 13714 62631 8.4 2.42
    as Reliever 13893 2011 14228.0 12511 60701 7.9 2.18
    as Reliever 13925 2010 14238.1 12447 61399 7.9 2.11
    as Reliever 14239 2009 15014.2 12708 65240 7.6 1.92
    as Reliever 14157 2008 15159.0 12662 65813 7.5 1.94
    as Reliever 14432 2007 15291.1 12489 66386 7.4 1.96
    as Reliever 13835 2006 14962.2 12126 65094 7.3 1.97
    as Reliever 13175 2005 14097.0 11087 61272 7.1 1.92
    as Reliever 13416 2004 14956.2 12139 65100 7.3 1.96
    as Reliever 12958 2003 14719.2 11557 63846 7.1 1.91
    as Reliever 12761 2002 14510.1 11597 62820 7.2 1.89
    as Reliever 12771 2001 14513.0 12033 62673 7.5 2.04
    as Reliever 12363 2000 14488.0 11488 64132 7.1 1.68
    as Reliever 12422 1999 14571.1 11597 64240 7.2 1.71
    as Reliever 11962 1998 13968.1 11073 60727 7.1 1.86
    as Reliever 11325 1997 13286.0 10766 58222 7.3 1.86
    as Reliever 11060 1996 13554.1 10915 59617 7.2 1.75
    as Reliever  9881 1995 12124.2  9457 53104 7.0 1.74
    as Reliever  7443 1994  9114.2  6858 40219 6.8 1.69
    as Reliever 10301 1993 12777.0  9376 55483 6.6 1.74
    as Reliever  9039 1992 11731.1  8078 50092 6.2 1.67
    as Reliever  8962 1991 12183.0  8589 51977 6.3 1.73
    as Reliever  8484 1990 12042.2  8307 51602 6.2 1.69
I         Split     G Year      IP    SO    BF SO9 SO/W
    as Reliever  7899 1989 11780.0  8299 49849 6.3 1.79
    as Reliever  7331 1988 10953.2  7425 46737 6.1 1.73
   22. bookbook Posted: May 21, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4710791)
Any chance that the shift is causing hitters to get flustered and k more? Far-fetched I know . ..
   23. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 21, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4710845)
D*mn. I was hoping it was something OTHER than Ks, which seem to be really hard to fix, due to historical momentum that no one has been able to find a cause for. Do we really have to go set new HR records just to get the offensive level up a bit? I hope not. - Brock


1871: 45'
1881: 50'
1887: 55'5"
1893: 60'6"

It's time, they're gonna have to move it back a couple of feet to reduce Ks
   24. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: May 21, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4710861)

Any chance that the shift is causing hitters to get flustered and k more? Far-fetched I know . ..


Could be causing already-selective hitters to be even more selective, knowing they need a pitch to drive to beat the shift.

The line between "Be patient and get your pitch" and "You haven't swung without two strikes on you in three weeks" is a fine one.
   25. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 21, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4710882)
My off-the-wall theory is that the move to 13 pitchers is having a knock-on effect on the hitters. Defensive agility is more important than ever with such thin benches. The effect is to slide the defensive scale of the average player to the left and thus introduce lesser hitters.

On the other side, the move to 13 pitchers might be causing all the injuries in addition to the lower offense. We talked in the other thread that pitch velocity tracks with arm injuries. One of the reasons pitch velocity is up is that pitchers are going all-out on every pitch*. Why are they going all-out? For a reliever, it's because they only have to pitch an inning. And if they pitch a few days in a row there's another flamethrower to pitch while they rest.

What about the starters, though? Are they pitching all-out (or closer to it than they used to) because they're only being asked to go 6 innings? So possibly the starters are throwing harder because they don't have to pace themselves. We've talked a lot about starters not being able to take a rest anymore with the 7-8-9 hitters, but I'm talking about the guy's "normal" fastball.

The only way I can think of to test that theory would be to check guys who transition between starting and relieving. 15 years ago they may have gained 5 MPH on their fastball on average. But maybe now they are only gaining 1 MPH. Or something like that.

If you limited your staff to 10 pitchers, and worked with your starters on taking a few MPH off of their regular fastball, you might find that they could go deeper into games and had less injuries. Thus justifying your smaller bullpen. Get your relievers to shave a few MPH and you'd have guys who could go 2 innings with some regularity, or at least be able to pitch on more days. Obviously there would be an effect on the quality of the pitching, though. So you'd have to see how that shook out.

*Yes there are other reasons, such as scouting and drafting for speed, and who gets promoted, etc.
   26. madvillain Posted: May 21, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4711004)
As usual it's probably multiple factors, but the main one to me seems to be the utter streamlining of pitchers - particularly relievers - to go as hard as they can for as long (short) as they can. Relievers are asked to get fewer outs per appearance than they were asked to get a decade ago or even five years ago. Relievers are throwing harder now.


Not only are they throwing harder than ever, but you also have increased specialization and utilization of splits data. Most starters are no longer going through the lineup a 3rd time, when the hitters start to gain a big edge, instead you've got a LOOGY coming followed by 2-3 guys that throw 95 and have a wicked breaking ball.

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